Review: Till I Met You Episode 2 – Friends In Love

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First Aired: 30 August 2016

Running Time: 27 minutes

Review In A Nutshell:
What was wonderful about this episode is that it was a well-wrapped gift in the sense that a typical conflict, often a source of long-drawn melodramas in Filipino teleseryes, was resolved by the end of it and in the most mature way possible.

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DISCLAIMER:

As this episode was aired prior to this review, I re-watched this thru IWantTV. Currently, IWantTV subscribers on free plan can re-watch select Till I Met You episodes sans the 3-day limit for the whole month of September 2016, thanks to Ponds wherein Nadine Lustre is one of its latest endorsers.

If you want to read why I wanted to pursue this episode review challenge, please click here. Also, if you haven’t started watching this series yet (and why not), be prepared for spoilers. A whole load of it.

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Friends In Love continues the journey with Iris expressing her sadness over Ali entering the PMA to her mother, Cassandra. As they were talking, Zoe came down and said the she wasn’t feeling well. It was eventually learned that Zoe had diabetes and she needed regular insulin injections to avoid further complications. Being the reliable sister, Iris focused her energies into helping her mother’s business, making ends meet, providing for her younger sister’s medication and going to college.

During a typical school day, a schoolmate asked Iris out on a date for a Gary V concert, which she refused because she didn’t have time and she was missing/still pining for Ali. As she was leaving the school premises, Iris got a surprise call from Ali. She learned that Ali left the PMA and he was there on campus. The best friends got reunited and started to ponder on how to tell Ali’s dad, Greggy, that he left the PMA. Iris encouraged Ali to face his father because she was confident Ninong Greggy loves him and would understand him. Iris offered her support by saying that she will join Ali when he meets his father.

To Ali and Iris’ shock, Greggy didn’t take the news very well and scolded Ali for bringing shame to the family’s name. In typical Filipino melodrama, Greggy didn’t want to see Ali’s face and was asked to leave the Nicolas’ household after the latter disappointed him. This forced Ali to seek refuge under Cassandra’s care where he was welcomed with open arms. Agnes then visited Cassandra’s place and spoke with Ali, giving her son her understanding and support of his dream to become a chef.

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While generally scared of the path he’s forging for himself, Ali sent a thank-you message to the person who inspired him to live his life and pursue his dreams: Basti — a half-Filipino/half-Greek, happy-go-lucky, adventurous guy who was seen in the previous episode to be part of the online James Dean Fan Club. Both guys exchanged messages and got to learn that they had a lot of things in common, one of which is having issues with their dads. From this point, it would suggest that the two, Ali and Basti, become good friends.

Meanwhile, confident in his innate talent, Iris offered to help Ali secure a scholarship grant in the school she was studying. With Iris’ help, Ali did what he could to secure the grant and he got it. The best friends were happy with Ali’s achievement as a scholar. This news reached Agnes and she expressed how proud she was of her son. Noticing that he overheard the conversation, Agnes reminded Greggy of his own struggles with his father, that he pursued his own dream of being a soldier against his father’s wishes that he became a doctor. This struck a chord in Greggy and he decided to mend his relationship with Ali and support his dreams of becoming a chef. The Nicolas family was reunited.

Through all the good and bad times in their lives, Ali realized how Iris has been there to support him. It was then where Ali told Iris that he loved her and she said the same. As the scene fades away with Ali and Iris holding each other, it finally made sense to me why the episode was given that title.

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Following the trend of the first episode, Friends In Love covered a lot of ground, this time regarding Ali’s exit from the PMA, his discovery of his real passion (cooking) and his burgeoning friends-to-lovers relationship with Iris. What was wonderful about this episode is that it was a well-wrapped gift in the sense that the father-son conflict, somewhat typical and often a source of long-drawn melodramas in Filipino teleseryes, was resolved by the end of it and in the most mature way possible. It made me absolutely happy because it made the episode thoroughly relatable and promoted the idea that families can have an open discussion about things that matter most. Sure, disappointments happen but if these were discussed openly, families can find their way to love and not hate. This episode struck a nerve in me and made me say a prayer for a schoolmate who left this world too soon.

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When I was in college, I encountered Jim (not his real name) in one of my GE subjects during start of freshman year. He was studying to be a doctor and he knew some of my course mates back in high school. He had an openness and joy in him that couldn’t be contained. In my brief encounters with him, I liked his personality; he never failed to make me laugh and my course mates as well. He was undeniably intelligent and had a sharp wit. However, I didn’t know that he was using it as a veil for his sadness. You see, Jim is gay. He never hid it from us, even his schoolmates from high school knew it. However, his dad, who held a high-ranking position in the armed forces, didn’t know. To him, Jim was a manly guy who was going to make his family proud by being a doctor. When he’s in school, Jim was the fun, lovable gay guy. When he’s at home, Jim put on the “kuya”, strong man front with his dad. There were moments where I noticed him talking to my course mates, in tears, perhaps expressing his struggles of keeping with two personalities. When I could, I would give Jim a shoulder squeeze or a pat on the back; he would smile in return.

During second semester, one Monday morning, as I was about to return a borrowed book to the library, I noticed some of my course mates crying, along with their fellow schoolmates in high school. It was then I learned that over the weekend, Jim committed suicide by shooting himself using his father’s gun. When his siblings found him, they thought that Jim was playing a prank because he did the same thing before (i.e. pretending to be dead). Upon learning that news, I found myself grabbing onto anything that could hold me. Having experienced a death in the family less than six months, it was too much especially when I learned the reason. He fell in love and he wanted to come clean with his dad. His fears of his dad not accepting him became too much to bear that he killed himself. I didn’t go to his wake; I couldn’t bring myself to because I didn’t want to remember him that way. Also, I didn’t want to see his dad and mentally blame him for Jim’s death. I said a prayer for him and for his family to find strength and peace despite the loss.

Jim’s death opened a number of if-onlys and what-ifs in me, even some existential questions too. With his death, I came to pray for a time when members of the LGBT community will be accepted as part of the society, no longer discriminated or forced to portray stereotypes often associated with them. Years have passed since then, yet I live in a world that still struggles with the LGBT community.

Aside from the reasons I previously stated, Till I Met You is giving me hope that there’s light in the struggle, that acceptance is possible. It has clearly laid the path of Ali’s character in the series, even before it started, that he will learn to discover who he really is. I hope that in the process of his self-discovery, Ali will not be another Jim in this world, that when he comes out to the people he cares the most, in due time, he will be met with all the understanding and love that he deserves.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Best Performance:

JC Santos and Nadine Lustre (because their chemistry is amazing)

Favorite Scene:

Greggy, muling nakipag-ayos sa kanyang anak na si Ali

Iris, sinuportahan si Ali sa kanyang pagbabalik eskwela

Favorite Line:

“Don’t let other people tell you what to do. Live your life!” – Basti Valderrama

Fun Stuff: Episode 2 Outtakes

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THROWBACK: When I tweeted about #TIMYFriendsInLove…

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COPYRIGHT NOTE:
All images featured in this blog post can be seen on Till I Met You’s official and show websites, and Facebook page. Some are screencaps from clips and outtakes uploaded in ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel.

Review: Till I Met You Episode 1 – Love Begins

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First Aired: 29 August 2016

Running Time: 41 minutes

Review In A Nutshell:
For a pilot episode, it covered a lot of ground and established most of the key points of the series, even the end game was blatantly presented. It is a risky yet refreshing move, one that I hope will be something that the series can benefit from in the long run.

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DISCLAIMER:

As this episode was aired prior to the review, I re-watched this thru YouTube and IWantTV. Currently, IWantTV subscribers on free plan can re-watch select Till I Met You episodes sans the 3-day limit for the whole month of September 2016, thanks to Ponds wherein Nadine Lustre is one of its latest endorsers.

The pilot episode is also available via ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel. Click to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–zODLfX2g8

If you want to read why I wanted to pursue this episode review challenge, please click here. Also, if you haven’t watched this episode yet (and why not), be prepared for spoilers. A whole load of it.

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Love Begins opened with a voice over about love and relationships, sweeping landscape shots of Greece and the two of the three main characters, Iris (Nadine Lustre) and Basti (James Reid), finding themselves on a rooftop of some building, smiling sweetly at each other. Within those first two minutes, you know what you’re getting into and were given a preview of how it will end. It was effective enough that it will make you curious about how it all started.

True to form, the viewers got to travel back in time, continued through Iris’ voice over on her mother’s journey to the altar. Iris’ mother, Cassandra (Carmina Villaroel), got her heart broken by Nestor (Zoren Legaspi), who she discovered was involved with other women namely Val (Angel Aquino) and Agnes (Pokwang). In a plot point almost similar to what happened in The Other Woman, the three ladies became good friends. Over time, they saw through each other’s highs and lows, especially when Cassandra got pregnant and was left behind by Iris’ biological father (Jay Manalo). Despite the challenges of single parenthood, Cassandra was able to raise Iris into a caring and smart daughter, who was well aware of their hardships and has vowed to help any way she could. Iris did so by selling some of her mother’s handicrafts in school and in the restaurant managed by her Ninang Agnes.

Along the way, Cassandra opened her heart again, this time with Oliver Duico (Richard Yap), a regular customer in the flower shop she was working for, whose wife recently died. Upon securing Iris’ permission, Cassandra and Oliver got married and started a new life with their blended families (Oliver had two children from his first wife, Paolo and Zoe). It was picture of marital bliss; Iris was happy to be part of a loving, relatively well-off family as Oliver was a good provider and took care of Cassandra well. Unfortunately, on Iris’ ninth birthday, Oliver collapsed and was taken to the hospital. There, it was discovered that he was very ill and went into coma. Oliver’s hospitalization took a toll on the family’s finances but he seemed to be fighting to keep his promise to Cassandra. Eventually, the family decided to take him off life support because there was no assurance that Oliver would get well. After Oliver’s death, Cassandra took care of Paolo and Zoe. Iris became Cassandra’s rock; she took the role of the doting sister to her two adopted siblings. In all of Iris’ highs and lows, she found support in her best friend Ali (JC Santos), son of her Ninang Agnes and Ninong Greggy (Robert Seña), who always looked after her and became her protector.

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Fast forward to the present, Ali and Iris’ friendship became solid through the years; both graduated at the top of their high school class and will pursue college degrees to help them fulfil their dreams. During their graduation ball, Iris and Ali became each other’s dates and were announced King and Queen of the ball. It was during the traditional dance when Iris suddenly heard her heart beat loudly. She was reminded of her mother’s story on how she knew that her Tito-Papa Oliver was the one. Iris felt like she was on Cloud 9. However, she realized that she may never get the chance to tell Ali how she felt because he was going to enter the Philippine Military Academy the following day. Eventually, Iris decided it wasn’t very lady-like for her to tell Ali what she feels; she will just focus on her studies and maybe wait until Ali exits the PMA and hopefully decides to court her.

The story then shifts to Ali, who was packing his clothes and looking very nervous about entering the PMA. Agnes sorted out Ali’s feelings and offered support while Greggy expressed his excitement over his only son entering the academy. As he couldn’t sleep, Ali decided to pass time by opening his computer wherein it was revealed that he was part of an online James Dean Fans Club. As he was browsing through the site, he saw a video of a look-a-like named Basti, who was writing a motorcycle, oddly similar to the James Dean poster he got from Greggy when he was younger. The episode ends with a cut of the three main actors’ faces sharing the screen before the next episode preview was shown.

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For a pilot episode, it covered a lot of ground and established most of the key points and relationships of the series. Despite the amount of material covered, the pace of the storytelling was good enough. OTWOListas may find some comfort and familiarity with the pilot — the voice over by Nadine Lustre; a recycled footage from Clark and Leah’s wedding; past to present transition; Iris and Leah both being smart, caring and dutiful daughters who understand their dire situations. The similarities end there though. Some of the differences include the presence of Ali being Iris’ best friend, the brief suggestions regarding Ali’s true self, and biggest — the end game being blatantly presented in the pilot (Iris and Basti ending up together).

The early revelation of the end game in the promotional teaser and pilot episode is a risky yet refreshing move. Risky in the sense that most teleseryes, the HEA (happily ever after) is not immediately known; there may be hints but nothing more. I mean, sure, people will expect that the main protagonists, a.k.a. featured love teams, will end up with each other. But if there’s anything the Princess and I teleserye taught most viewers and production teams, you don’t necessary end up with the person you’re paired with. Else, fans would have not gotten KathNiel or LizQuen. I also see this as refreshing, especially for JaDine fans who are afraid of JC Santos’s Ali becoming Jigs/Simon Part Deux. Since Ali was taken out as a threat, the show’s focus can be more on the character development, which is a facet of a good series. I sincerely hope that this move can benefit the series in the long run.

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I was on a wait-and-see mode after watching the pilot but generally, I was hooked.

Best Performance: Carmina Villaroel

Favorite Scene: Cassandra, nagpaalam na sa kanyang minamahal na si Oliver

Favorite Line: “A man’s character is not only defined by his words and actions, but also by how he respects his own abode.” – Greggy Nicolas

Fun Stuff: Episode 1 Outtakes

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THROWBACK: When I tweeted about #TIMYLoveBegins…

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COPYRIGHT NOTE:
All images featured in this blog post can be seen on Till I Met You’s official and show websites, and Facebook page.

Till I Met You Episode Reviews: A Prologue

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To say that I had a blogging slump is a huge understatement. I had many reasons but it’s largely because I needed to find myself again, my writing voice. Despite this long interlude, I didn’t stop trying things out; if you see my Twitter feed, you’ll see that I’m still that person. In those quiet adventures, I discovered something that is now leading me to embark on this frightening yet thrilling blogging challenge: That Thing Called Tadhana.

Most of my long-time friends know my bias with Philippine movies and TV series. It’s not because it’s not good but it has gotten too formulaic for my own liking. I grew up in a household where TV series like John and Marsha, Mara Clara, Valiente were viewing staples. Movies that starred Dolphy or FPJ as well as some memorable love teams like Guy and Pip, Vi and Bot, Sharon and Gabby dominated my Saturday and Sunday afternoons with my family. They were all good but the tropes were the same. It became too predictable, so much that I would find myself watching the first week and correctly guessing plot points that will sustain the series for years, if not months. Every ending was a happy one despite convoluted twists and turns. I lost hope as a result. I felt bad about it but I didn’t want to waste my time and effort to watch something I knew I wouldn’t like.

Then last year, a good friend of mine begged me to join her in watching That Thing Called Tadhana. Having sworn off anything Philippine made, it took that friend of mine a lot of convincing (well, bribing) to see it with her. She even chided my anti-mainstream/anti-hype attitude (in between begging and bribing) because I was well aware that everybody was talking about how great the movie was. She used the only recourse she knew I wouldn’t back out of: a bet and a dare — if I didn’t like the movie one bit, she was going to pay for the ticket and a post-movie meal. I went inside the cinema wary and scared; I left feeling light-hearted, refreshed and shocked. I was surprised that a Filipino movie can be simple yet sublime; I began to feel hope. I took note of the director’s name — Antoinette Jadaone — and swore to myself that I will watch everything she has made and will make. This lead me to many movie adventures and a teleserye, On The Wings of Love, which transformed me into a JaDine fan (another surprise) and a proud OTWOLista. I didn’t miss a single episode, even if meant watching it on IWantTV within hours after its live TV airing. There was something about Antoinette’s brand of storytelling that resonated in me; it was straightforward but hugely relatable and often tugs at your heartstrings.

Because of the success of On The Wings of Love, Antoinette Jadaone is working again with James Reid and Nadine Lustre (JaDine for the unaware) for Till I Met You. In the initial announcement, the series was being touted as JaDine’s most mature work to date, that it will explore certain themes that are considered ground-breaking for Philippine television. When the first teaser aired, I realized that the ground-breaking aspect of it was it will include a character representing the LGBT community, played by a relatively unknown actor named JC Santos, who doesn’t look like the typical token gay character often seen in most Philippine movies or TV series. Honestly, this plot point didn’t shake my world especially if I were to consider that this wasn’t the first Philippine teleserye to include a gay character in a love triangle (Hint: MHL). However, it didn’t reduce my interest at all; in fact, I was looking forward to seeing how JC Santos will bring that character to life. So like every other OTWOLista, I tuned in 8:00 p.m. on August 29 (Monday) and watched the pilot episode. Fifteen episodes in and I’m still hooked; I look forward to watching every episode every night.

I guess at this point you are wondering why I have decided to embark on this episode review for Till I Met You when it has aired fifteen episodes already (and yes, it will start from Episode 1). My reason is simple: I love the series and I want the episode reviews to become my thank-you notes to Antoinette, James, Nadine, JC, and rest of the cast and crew. Thank you for delivering another series that I will look forward to every night.

I’m well aware that I may not be the first person to do reviews of the series and it may seem like a crazy undertaking, given the effort. However, there is a saying, better late than never thus I’ll forge ahead. Wish me luck.🙂

 

P.S.
Lest people may think I’m part of the community being highlighted in the series, I’m not. I’m straight but definitely not narrow-minded or homophobic (I hate this word actually). I’m a firm believer that everybody deserves to love and be loved in return, regardless of gender or sexual preference or social constraints. Also, I believe that love is not blind, it only refuses to see, thus my reviews will stay true to how I want it to be: objective and honest.

 

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COPYRIGHT NOTE:

All images featured in this blog post can be seen on Till I Met You’s official and show websites, and Facebook page.