Category Archives: TV

Ali’s Beautiful, Selfless Love

First post of 2017 and it’s not a review, nor something news-like. Also, I’m about 102 episodes late in providing my reviews/reactions for Till I Met You, which bowed out from TV last January 20, 2017. While I may attempt to produce other blog posts related to the show in the future (throwback, maybe), I couldn’t resist this one. I needed to.

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What prompted this post is Basti’s voice over (seen above) towards the last 10 minutes of the finale. This was heard as Ali was leaving the country to pursue his dreams with Stephen. It was undeniably and achingly appropriate.

I have seen love portrayed in all art forms. In recent years, nothing has touched my heart more than the love Ali gave to every one he cared about. His love is so pure, beautiful and most of all, selfless. Ali’s depth and capacity to love surpasses his label in the show, especially with what he showed to Iris, Basti, Kelly, Agnes, Greggy and Stephen, which was reciprocated wonderfully.

  • Iris, despite getting her heart broken, accepted and continued to love Ali. Both bore witness to each other’s growth and happiness. They became each other’s rock when nobody else was there for them.
  • Basti accepted Ali unconditionally despite a shocking admission that could’ve destroyed a burgeoning friendship. Because of this, Ali became Basti’s moral compass. It helped Ali be brave enough to support Basti’s pursuit of Iris and point out his missteps too.
  • Kelly is Ali’s silent better half. Through her humor and wit, she helped Ali become truthful by taking him out of his comfort zone and by helping him to see things even he couldn’t believe or accept.
  • Agnes’ love for Ali is beyond limits, beyond words. She showed him the truest extent of a mother’s love; that she would go out on a limb for him. Her example became Ali’s touchstone.
  • Greggy’s reluctance nurtured Ali’s courage and resilience. A father’s love is often hard to articulate but when finally expressed, it flows rapidly and freely. Greggy’s expression of pride and love freed Ali from his self-imposed constraints.
  • Stephen is Ali’s gift from the universe. In his journey of “almosts” and “maybes”, Ali found his true purpose with Stephen. Stephen brought out the best in Ali and showed to him a world that defied the stereotypes and perceptions often perceived of the LGBT community. When they fell and expressed their love for each other, it was so organic. I didn’t see two gay men; I saw two people who were in love. Stephen is Ali’s “always” and with them, you truly believe: tayo, hanggang dulo.

As I use this post to say goodbye to Ali, I want to thank the following:

  • The creative team of Till I Met You for bringing Ali into mainstream media. His is a story that needed to be heard and it was brought to life successfully and sustained beautifully from start to finish.
  • JC Santos for his sensitive, top-notch portrayal of Ali. You are a gem of an actor, one that I look forward to seeing more in the future. I will pray for your continued success. You have my support as a fan.

Ali, you are forever scored in my heart. I will never forget you.

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Review: Till I Met You Episode 3 – Hello Greece

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First Aired: 31 August 2016

Running Time: 27 minutes

Review In A Nutshell:
Hello Greece is perhaps the most relatable and humorous episode to date and it has set up a future major conflict in the series by unwrapping a mystery.

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DISCLAIMER:

As this episode was aired prior to this 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, now on extended promotion, thanks to Ponds wherein Nadine Lustre is one of its latest endorsers.

Also, this episode was made available via ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel. Click to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoLmLyZAKic

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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Hello Greece continues the journey with Ali and Iris’ relationship being out in the open with their respective families and friends, and was received positively. However, both have agreed to label their relationship as having a mutual understanding (MU) given their school priorities.  In the same vein, Ali develops a closer bond with Basti and both were seen to have regular voice calls/chats.  Through their conversations, Ali developed an interest in visiting Greece.  In the process, Ali learned that their school had partner based in Greece and was able to convince Iris to see it as an option for their OJT.

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Having set their sights on Greece, Ali and Iris performed well in school enough for them to be accepted in the international OJT stint after 3 years. Basti learned of the good news from Ali through a video conversation and assured the latter that he will help them during their stay in Greece. Iris doesn’t trust Basti though especially when the latter accidentally stripped naked in front of her during a video chat with Ali, which was presumably cut/frozen given internet access issues.

At some point in the episode, the mystery of Val’s absence was resolved. It was learned that she is now based in Greece and knows Basti well. Also, it was revealed that Basti is the son of Nestor Valderama, Cassandra’s ex, and that Val is engaged to him (the diamond solitaire on her left ring finger is so noticeable in its brightness). Basti seems to have a good relationship with Val, as she doted on him like a mother, giving him a care package which included pictures of Nestor. It was clear that she wanted the two to mend their relationship. How it was broken was showcased in a flashback as Basti returned to his apartment in Greece. In the flashback, an 8-year old Basti was seen to be living with Nestor after his mother died. Crippled with sadness, Basti didn’t know how to be with Nestor and the latter made things worse by focusing on his career rather than understanding the former by giving him love and care.

Towards the end of the episode, Ali and Iris were seen to be preparing for their trip to Greece.  Their respective families accompanied them to the airport. Ali and Iris stayed at the lounge, sharing their collective excitement for their OJT, before boarding their flight.  Basti then fetched the two at the airport, and their journey in Greece begins.

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If there were two words that I can use to describe Hello Greece, it would probably be relatable and humorous. First off, the relatability factor; there’s so much in this episode that I can relate to, allow me to break it down:

  • HRM and OJT Angle – Ali and Iris are studying to be a cook and a hotelier respectively. As a person who has previously worked in the industry and having managed an OJT program, I am well-aware how hard it is to secure internship slots and how expensive international OJTs can get.  I’m sure that both Ali and Iris were exceptional students in their school for them to be considered in an international OJT stint.  Despite this, it’s not a bed of roses for these two. The fact that Agnes shouldered the one-way tickets of Ali and Iris is proof positive that such international stints require some investment.  Iris is lucky to have a generous godmother in Agnes.

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  • Internet Access Issues – While it seemed like fate was playing a game on Iris as she is unable to properly meet Basti in the two attempts that Ali tried to introduce her, the frozen/disconnected screen is a shot at how terrible the internet access is in the Philippines, not to mention one of the most expensive rates at low band speeds in the whole of Southeast Asia. When I went to Singapore on a 3-week business trip, it was important that I connect and check with my family once in a while. In Singapore, I had no issues connecting to the internet (their band speeds are ridiculously fast and there was internet everywhere) but I didn’t escape the disconnected/frozen screen moments, all because of the intermittent connections experienced back home.  That was 4 years ago.  Fast-forward, nothing has changed; I think it has gotten worse.
  • Long Wait at the Airport – In all my international business trips, I would wait an average of 2-3 hours before I could board my flight (this is after checking in and passing through customs which is always such a delightful experience… *insert sarcasm*). Since I travel alone and I don’t like the idea of missing my flight because I passed out on the metal chairs due to lack of sleep, keeping myself awake is crucial. I wish Pokemon Go was invented then but I always had a book and my laptop to keep me company.  I wish there will be a time when I will be able to travel with a friend outside of the country.  That will be awesome.

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In addition to this, Hello Greece happens to be one of, if not, the funniest episodes in the series so far.  In all the times I have watched/re-watched this episode, it never fails to make me double over with laughter and here are my favorite bits:

  • Kelly’s spitfire commentary on the Ali’s forehead kiss and possible first kiss – I will admit that it was one of my kilig moments in Episode 2. However, a forehead kiss is often viewed as a sign of respect, not love, and done to the elderly.  This prompted Kelly, Iris’ girl best friend, to call her “Lola” or a grandma.  Iris didn’t mind it though as she knew where she stood in her relationship with Ali.  Despite that, she obviously looked smitten even at the thought of it. Furthermore, Kelly commenting on how Ali is possibly setting up Greece to be the place where Iris might experience her first kiss was also funny.
  • Greggy and the future Nicolas grandkids – Upon announcing their relationship status to the family, Greggy already envisioned Ali and Iris’ marriage and having grandchildren who will be soldiers in the future to compensate for his only son leaving the PMA. Ali clearing his throat was a subtle but funny moment.
  • Basti stripping in front of Iris via video call – This is the most hilarious bit of the entire episode. Presuming that the video call was disconnected, Basti started to strip off his clothes to prepare for work. On the other end, Ali left to answer his dad’s call.  Iris then asked permission to use his laptop to surf the internet when suddenly, the video chat was restored and she saw Basti remove his shorts and underwear.  She screamed at Basti and Ali rushed back to ask what happen.  Ali’s response to the situation was everything (meme below as seen on this tweet) :

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  • When Ali and Basti finally meet – Upon arriving in Greece, Basti searched for Ali in the crowd as the he offered to fetch them at the airport. When they saw each other, both ran towards and hugged each other.  Basti even kissed Ali on both cheeks, which seemed to be a Greek custom, since he almost did the same to Iris, who went all conservative and threatened to punch him.  Iris suddenly became the third wheel to Ali and Basti.  This, coupled with her first impression resulting from Basti’s accidental stripping, will heavily influence most of the conflict that will happen among the three lead characters.

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Aside from the relativity and humor, Hello Greece has set up what I foresee to be a major conflict that will happen in the series: Cassandra and Agnes finding out that Val and Nestor are engaged to be married, which I suspect would happen in Greece.

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Having seen how strongly Cassandra reacted to Iris’ research which led to Nestor Valderama, it was very clear that the three friends have not been in touch for ages.  This made me curious to find out how Val and Nestor ended up together, given their history, which I’m confident will be revealed in succeeding episodes.  A bombshell this big requires some time to nurture before it bursts, which I hope will happen soon enough.

So far, it seems like the direction of the next set of episodes will be the dynamic among Iris, Ali and Basti in Greece.  From what I’ve seen so far in this episode, it promises to be a riot.

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (because there were so many hilarious moments in this episode)

Best Performance:
JC Santos (because even if it was heavily suggested that he will come out as gay in the series, I was convinced that Ali was indeed in love with Iris) and Nadine Lustre (because running in heels and falling off Ali’s bed shows her commitment to doing her own stunts)

Favorite Scene:

Favorite Line:

“Dapat kilalanin mo muna yung tao bago mo husgahan.” – Cassandra Duico

Fun Stuff: Episode 3 Outtakes (there is a moment where you can see how awesome the chemistry is between JC Santos and Nadine Lustre)

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THROWBACK: When I tweeted about #TIMYHelloGreece…

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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 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.