the gapanese invasion is nigh!

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

the business of crossing social class boundaries


in the wake of heart evangelista's transfer to gma-7, of geoff eigenmann's strutting in sexy trunks in lobo, of anne curtis' forthcoming fantaserye entitled dyosa and of kris aquino's araw-araw na pagka-casino (alcohol, that is), let me post this old review of their well-received teleserye hiram.

Love transcends barriers. This cliché had been proven wrong by lovers who had been struggling against the odds of the world ever since. In our society today, people still cannot accept the union of two individuals coming from different social classes. There is this hegemonic reality that presumes the existence of the status quo --species of the same breed do not mingle with other kind. Even if they felt the pangs of their heart or the striking feeling up in their spine, logic always gets over one’s system. Is the power of the heart that weak nowadays? Will the merging of two people as one already be based on rationale? Is love’s rationality not enough? To evade from this substandard existing condition, television scriptwriters present the ideal love paradise one has always been dreaming of entering. This suspension of reality thus fascinates audience into viewing television soaps phenomenally known in the Philippines as teleserye.
ABS-CBN, the country’s leading media network, showcases big-budgeted, star-studded teleseryes, one of which is the highly-rated Hiram, currently televised weeknights at 9 to 9:30. With all its ingredients, Hiram tries but so far fails to provide its audience the necessary fix to realize--even on TV--that love indeed cuts across borders. The basic plot reads thus: Diana (Kris Aquino) “inherits” her dead friend Beatriz’ (Mickey Ferriols) daughter by the unknowing father Edward (John Estrada), Diana‘s long-time secret love. The rub, though, is that Edward is an absurdly rich haciendero and Diana used to work for him as household help. While it was made apparent that the guy’s heart has a soft spot for the maid, the love seems forbidden because of the gap in their social classes. The rags-to-riches experience of Diana--a result of her ascent to television stardom and partly of the guidance of her soul sister and potential love rival, Sofia (Dina Bonnevie)--closes the aforementioned gap and, in effect, makes Diana worthy of Edward’s romantic attention. To date, the soap is in full swing ratings-wise and the audience is left guessing who gets whom after the supposed “borrowing” (read: hiram) of lovers, but it is never lost to the viewers that Diana merits Edward’s love only because they hobnob in the elite society’s circle and the only time the former servant will bring a champagne glass to the master is to clink hers with his.
An interesting subplot is the potential love triangle involving Harry/Andrew (Geoff Eigenmann), Margaret (Heart Evangelista) and Stephanie (Anne Curtis). While there is a friction as to wealthy yuppie Margaret’s falling in love with the originally hideous-looking Andrew (who is really her beloved Harry, only amnesiac and surgically enhanced now), she cannot borrow him from his girlfriend and her soul cousin Stephanie. Andrew’s poverty is beside the point, since he is destined to match the moneyed Margaret with his designation as a high-ranking officer in Sofia’s giant corporation. The catch is that monstrous-faced Harry has to undergo the gorgeous Andrew transformation in order to merit Margaret’s love. Given that the scheming mother of Stephanie, Sofia, masterminded Harry’s operation in order to take Margaret away from him while his identity is lost, the general plot has allowed this to happen so the beast can evolve into a prince charming for the princess-like Margaret.
While it is understandable that the audience needs to feed on the star complex foisted on them by the capitalizing Kapamilya network (suffice it to say that the Kapamilya here is the Lopez family), hence the hiring of flawlessly beautiful actors and actresses, the elemental love binding the characters seems incapable of dissolving social borders: the poor has to become rich and the ugly has to become beautiful to make a perfect match. Only when one is able to cross classes is one rendered worthy of the beloved’s attention. It destroys the reality-bound illusion that members of various classes can intermarry despite many obstacles. It even puts forth the hilarious suggestion that the conventionally ugly guy can merit a pretty girl only if he goes under the knife, or that a governess like Rose Porteau cannot turn into a heiress because she can never marry a multimillionaire.

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