‘Sana Maulit Muli’ transcends time and genre and even expectations on what “love stories” are. Beyond the usual pa-kilig and the pa-sweet depiction of love, Agnes and Jerry showed us a timeless story of enduring love.
SYNOPSIS: Agnes (Lea Salonga), a painfully shy girl, is extremely devoted and dependent on her confident and free-spirited boyfriend Jerry (Aga Muhlach), an idealistic advertising executive. Their differences strengthen their relationship. Agnes then gets petitioned by her absentee mother based in California. As Agnes flies abroad, she finds herself struggling to survive in the US. Everything seems difficult for her, especially because Jerry is not with her. Meanwhile, Jerry spends the days without Agnes guiding his career and develops another relationship with Cynthia (Cherry Pie Picache). Their long distance relationship is weakened until Agnes and Jerry fall apart. In the long run, Agnes learns to cope with the fast-paced lifestyle in the US—she gets a new place, car, and attitude. She becomes totally independent, almost emotionless. One day, Jerry is assigned to join an ad conference in New York. He pays a visit to Agnes with the hopes of winning her back. Will Jerry’s visit to the United States reignite flame that has waned because of distance? (synopsis from the official website)
DIRECTOR: Olivia M. Lamasan
WRITERS: Olivia M. Lamasan, Jose Javier Reyes, Mel Mendoza Del Rosario, Shaira Mella-Salvador
GENRE: Romance, Drama
CAST: Lea Salonga | Aga Muhlach | Tina Paner | William Martinez | Gina Pareno | Cherry Pie Picache
“Mahirap naman ata talagang magkaintindihan ang dalawang taong nasa magkabilang dulo ng mundo.”
Bago pa man tilian sila Popoy at Basha, bago pa man maging sensation ang KathNiel, Lizquen, JaDine at maging ang ngayo’y pinagkakaguluhang #AlDub, mayroon na noong love pair na naging source of kilig at nagpaigting ng #relationshipgoal ng marami: ang tambalang Aga Muhlach at Lea Salonga.
Twenty years ago, sa parehong buwan, ipinanganak ang samahang Jerry at Agnes na minahal ng mga manunuod via the film Sana Maulit Muli. This served as the second major movie outing of the love team (following the equally successful Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal), which later on won the Best Picture plum at the 19th Gawad Urian and a grand-slam finish for its story and screenplay. Siguro nga isang indikasyon na successful ang isang pelikula kung dalawang dekada matapos itong unang ipalabas, may clamor pa rin from critics and fans alike na mapanuod muli ang isang love story that went beyond the confines of the usual saccharine depiction of girl-meets-boy, boy-woos-girl, pa-kilig plots in the past.
Bago pa man magpaulit-ulit ang big screen adaptations ng buhay OFW sa mga “country” movies of late (and by country, we mean movies whose titles are based on countries where the stories unfold: i.e. Milan, Dubai, I.T.A.L.Y. to name a few), Sana Maulit Muli talked in great lengths about the intricacies of life in another land. Sa pelikulang ito, walang “ayieeee, magkakatuluyan na ‘yan” moments. Walang push and pull ng emotions, walang tuksuhan. The story allowed us to sneak a peek and eavesdrop into the life of a couple dealing with the roughest patch in their relationship.
In fact, the conflict is not grounded much on the romance or the relationship per se, it is one that is anchored on the characters’ paths to self discovery. One where they reach that tasking point of looking further into themselves and having a clearer understanding of who they are, what they really need, and what makes them complete. Admirably, the movie detailed the lives of its two characters without using the relationship as the axis by which their lives revolve into.
Agnes Sarmiento (Lea Salonga) is an American citizen wooed by her mother to live with her after years of living separate lives. Even her boyfriend, Jerry Morales (played to perfection by Aga Muhlach), agrees. Kung papanuorin niyo ngayon ang pelikula, malamang sa malamang, iisipin niyong pinuno ng #pabebegirls si Agnes. She’s the type who calls in to check if her boyfriend “loves her” or to check with him which dress to wear going into a birthday celebration. Jerry, on the other hand, is a hardworking hot-shot advertising executive who’s balancing a life supporting his family and Agnes.
Nang tuluyan na ngang lumipad papunta ng Amerika si Agnes, nagkaroon ng lamat ang noo’y matatag nilang relasyon—madalas na nagiging problema ng mga magkakarelasyon sa magkakaibang lugar. Agnes’ first days in a foreign land were, of course, a challenge. Di lang dahil nasa ibang bansa siya kundi maging sa bahay kung san siya tumutuloy, nananatili siyang “othered”. Naturally, she calls for her boyfriend for help. Eh kasi naman, wala pang Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Viber, iMessage o Line noon. Everything has to be coursed through an expensive “long distance call”. As the narrative progressed, Jerry’s absence slowly ripped off band-aids to Agnes’ insecurities and instability that he, himself, put in place by always being by her side.
Ironically, by way of its exposition, sa pelikula, ang umalis ang siyang nagmukang napag-iwanan. Agnes’ and Jerry’s plans to start a life together were foiled by Jerry’s obligations and ambition. Andiyan yung tatawag si Agnes pero walang Jerry na makakausap. Life overseas became even more daunting, and the longer she stayed there, the farther Jerry seemed to have drifted away from her.
In Agnes’ defense di lang naman siya nagpapabebe for pabebe’s sake, when she says she misses Jerry, she actually means she misses a portion of herself na iniwan niya sa boyfriend—kung sino siya with Jerry. Para sa kaniya, walang Agnes kung walang Jerry. Nakaangkla ang buong pagkatao niya sa kung ano sila ng boyfriend niya. Nakabaon sa kaniya ang tinik ng pag-iwan sa kaniya ng ina, at ang untimely death of her father turning Jerry into her remaining support system, to which, a huge chunk of her sense of “being” was being sustained in. When their book closed and the formerly unsure person cocooned by insecurity that is Agnes blossomed into a strong, successful career woman, we see the unraveling of a reversal of fortune. Lilipad papuntang Amerika si Jerry para magkaroon ng second chance ang kanilang relasyon at dito, siya naman ang makakaramdam ng alienation, in every sense of the word.
The strength of the material
really lies on the well-rounded
characters that we have
followed from start to end
Sa pelikula, mahalaga para sa mga manunuod na sundan ang mga karakter na kilala nila. Yun bang hindi kailangang napagdaanan mo na kung ano ang napagdadaanan nila pero dapat makuha ng mga pangunahing karakter mo ang simpatiya ng audience. Mahalagang makuha nila ang interes ng mga manunuod na patuloy sundan ang pagdevelop nila kung hindi, lalabas ang mga manunuod sa sinehan with a big “So what?” on their faces.
While the movie’s packed story may seem a bit confused on what it really intend to say, the strength of the material really lies on the well-rounded characters that we have followed from start to end. Hindi ito ginawa para lang magkaroon ng movie outing ang tambalang Aga at Lea. Ni minsan, hindi mo mararamdamang love team ang nasa harap mo, kundi nakikitsismis ka sa buhay nila Agnes at Jerry, kaya naman sa pagtatapos ng pelikula, it’s either #TeamBabes ka o hindi. Either way, you’re looking at the two characters, and not actors made to play certain roles.
On this area, Direk Olivia Lamasan’s treatment and the team of writers behind the story and the screenplay succeeded. Crowded man with fast-paced events and complexities ang depiction ng mga buhay na sinundan natin on-screen, it didn’t feel like we’re being overfed with so many things. The seesaw of points of view, constantly shifting from Agnes to Jerry may be a tricky technique but Lamasan made it with so much finesse that we actually tuned in to see which one of the two characters would succeed, and which one would raise the white flag and give up.
The romantic struggle, in fact, served simply as a backdrop to an elaborate post-colonial discourse on the Filipino immigrant’s plight in America—from oppressive employers, cultural divide, and the apparent blurring of identities. Mabigat man at may tendency na magmukang teleserye ang mga ganitong tema, pero admirable ang direction ni Lamasan na nagbura sa mga flaws ng story.
Aga Muhlach’s Best Actor trophy was well-deserved. May restraint pero fully-developed ang approach niya sa karakter niya bilang controlling yet loving boyfriend kay Agnes. This was blended perfectly with his struggles at home. Pagdating naman sa Amerika, the reversal into a meek, blue-collar worker from a formerly successful young professional was well thought-out. Characters this layered and “pressured” can easily be overcooked by any actor, Muhlach handled it well and he came out successful. For some time, naging every-girl’s boyfriend si Muhlach, what with his natural charm and raw, unrehearsed acting chops. Lea Salonga was also commendable in her transition from a shy girl into a fist-up, successful career woman. Together, the remarkable chemistry of the two sold us into believing that who we are seeing are not mere characters, but actual people with actual stories.
Other memorable performances include Gina Pareno’s divine portrayal of a hapless mother making ends meet and Tony Abuel, whose memorable “I love you, son” telephone scene had everyone reaching for their tissue boxes (By everyone, this writer means himself).
Sana Maulit Muli deserves to be called a classic for having a timeless narrative that transcends and encompasses genres. It’s a love story that graduates from mere pa-kilig to a believable mirror of people and their plight to self-discovery. ♦