Rarely do we witness a teleserye so well laid out yet intricate, and superbly narrated despite its complicated plot.
Sino Ang Maysala: Mea Culpa brings so much exhilaration and suspense, viewers truly yearn for what happens next, given the moral dilemmas and obvious hitches with the law.
And ironically, one main story arc revolves around a group of bar exam passers, who were euphoric about their feat—Gaylord (Sandino Martin), Lolita (Ivana Alawi), Greco (Kit Thompson), Drei (Tony Labrusca), and Juris (Bela Padilla). Add Bogs (Ketchup Eusebio), who might not have hurdled that challenging test but joined in the fun being a dear friend to the group as well.
Traumatic and life changing
Their celebratory trip to Baguio City became both a sort of coming of age fete and a toast for their accomplishment, yet little did they expect it was going to be the most traumatic and life-changing experience of their lives.
After a drunken spree and a weed-induced stupor, the group set off on the road in the outskirts of the city until they heard a loud thud. It took a while before they realized they had been involved in a fatal incident—running over a lady, who was instantly killed by the impact.
They were all desolate and distraught by what had just happened, as they foresaw that the “killing” would derail their lifelong dreams of being lawyers, yet knowing pretty well how much they had broken the law they are set to protect with their actions. As the upright and righteous Juris sought how they must follow the course of justice, a majority of them decided by vote to hide it by burying the body by the roadside.
And as they did what was unthinkable, another complication arose—they heard a baby crying nearby, who obviously was with the dead lady that had just buried. With another argument ensuing if they should take the baby or not, Juris chose to follow her conscience and get the child, whose mother they thought they had killed.
But unbeknownst to them, the baby was not actually orphaned in that tragic accident. The girl’s mother is very much alive, and she was actually snatched by the lady they killed who was a member of a child trafficking syndicate. Fina (Jodi Sta. Maria), a simple Baguio farm worker, is the child’s real mother. And the kid, whose name is Joy, was taken from Fina and her mom Amor (Janice de Belen) by the child trafficker while being confined in a local hospital for a rare blood disease.
And Fina’s frantic search for Joy is contrasted with Juris’s instant affection and care for the kid, whom she has taken as her own, and even baptized and named Leyna.
Fina and Juris’ backstories
We got to know Fina’s tale of hardship, losing her husband to a deadly mishap working overseas and legal custody of her other child to her mother-in-law Maribel (Maria Isabel Lopez) after Joy went missing.
Juris had also been revealed as a lost child when she was young, but had been rescued and cared for Bantay Bata with an educator and school principal Emil (Buboy Garovillo) guiding her. Emil would then adopt and raise her well, thus making her an achiever throughout student life, and placing 11th in the Bar Exams as her pinnacle. With Juris’ closeness to Emil as a foster child, she wasn’t able to hide the truth about the Baguio incident and spilled the beans. While Emil was devastated and urged Juris and her friends to come clean and surrender to authorities, he just couldn’t imagine Juris experiencing life behind bars, and eventually joined the group in concealing the crime, thus compelling himself to resign as school principal.
Her romance with Drei flourished, despite his politician mom Matilda’s objections, and they eventually walked down the aisle. Five years hence, Drei had been a San Juan councilor and Juris a prominent lawyer under the Public Attorneys Office. They had since been legal adoptive parents to Leyna, who is now a consistent honor student at her primary school but continues to undergo treatment for her rare blood disease.
Gaylord had been a state prosecutor while Greco became a top NBI agent. And Lolita, whose affair with Greco had been quite unmistakable, she chose to strengthen her marriage to her billionaire businessman Lucio (Jay Manalo) and have her corporate career thriving, being the head of the legal department of her husband’s company. Bogs, however, remained downtrodden, as he long blamed himself for the Baguio incident as their drug-induced state at the time was his doing. He would try to take his life a number of times only to be saved by his loyal friends at the last minute.
And while most in the group had reached the peak of their careers and their personal lives, a distraught Fina would only want to get her child Joy back at all cost even as five years passed since the incident. And when a construction team unearthed remains of the lady they killed by the Baguio roadside, the narrative has now reached a major turn.
The drama’s pilot week is definitely breathtaking with the way the disparate yet linked story arcs are masterfully developed on their own and slowly merged in an emphatic manner as we look forward to that eventual collision course of the lead characters.
Directors Dan Villegas and Andoy Ranay might have crafted a complicated mesh of narratives but these are pieced together so well that the viewers can easily comprehend and appreciate it. This boils down to a well-written script that effectively covers all aspects of the conflict, especially the dilemmas and quandaries the characters encounter in terms of their personal morality and the laws of the state, while they delve in socially sensitive topics, such as politics and illegal drugs.
Production elements were at its best, from the stirring camera angles to splendid editing work.
Performances were outstanding and praiseworthy. Bela Padilla continues to show that she is the current dramatic toast with her believable and natural portrayal of a character facing difficult predicaments, and slays those complex emotions with much integrity.
Ketchup Eusebio was exceptional as he impressively delivers a contrasting range of emotions related to his loose and forsaken character. Sandino Martin, Kit Thompson and Ivana Alawi all showed impeccable promise with their brilliant characterizations. But of course, Tony Labrusca brings out that incredible charm that lights up the screen.
Janice de Belen, Buboy Garovillo, and Maria Isabel Lopez likewise provide remarkable thespic support, while Ayen Munji-Laurel gives a noteworthy, standout performance. And, we all look forward to how explosive Agot Isidro’s role as the real mom of Bela Padilla’s character will turn out.
But we are all breathless with the credibility of Jodi Sta. Maria’s portrayal as she instinctively embodied and personified an oppressed and unfortunate character who tries to stand up and fight back. Motherly qualities are well-depicted—from the despair her character Fina felt losing her child to the strange connection she sensed upon seeing Juris at a gas station.
Netizens are likewise overwhelmed…