The Struggle of Being a Closet Fangirl

By Real Talk by Alex Castillo - 2:33:00 AM

After so many years of producing overly-cheesy (and sometimes stupid) romantic dramas, someone has finally figured out the right formula to capturing the hearts and interests of the Filipino audience. That someone being Antoniette Jadaone, screenwriter and director of the successful indie romcom 'That Thing Called Tadhana', who is now at the helm of ABS-CBN's latest teleserye, 'On The Wings Of Love' starring James Reid and Nadine Lustre.

It has been a long time since I've been invested in a Philippine "teleserye". In fact, it's been years since I've actually liked a Filipino soap opera, but with ABS-CBN's new show, I've found myself obsessed--to the point where I make sure to get home in time to watch it after work and basically turn into a teenager overcome by emotions while in front of the TV. 

Photo from the On The Wings Of Love's official Facebook page

The story goes like the typical starcrossed lovers cliché; Leah Olivar (Nadine Lustre), a young woman with an American dream, is on her way to the US with a tourist visa to compete with her choir in an international singing competition. There, she meets Jack (Cherry Pie Picache), the Overseas Filipino Working (OFW) mom of her ex-boyfriend, Jiggs (Albie Casiño) who helps her figure out a plan to legally stay in the US, to make a better life for her family. Of course, with only a tourist visa, the only way for her to stay would be to either stay illegally or get married to an American citizen. That's where Clark Medina (James Reid) comes in--a young Filipino-American buried in debt and looking for a way to pay off his loanshark. Oh and did I mention that he was Jack's nephew? Not to mention, Jiggs' rival since they were children (Awakwaaard). Put the two together, along with the complicated rules of not falling for each other, and you've got yourself one addictive love story. 

As cheesy and corny as that sounds, trust me, it's a pretty good show. Here's why:

  1) It's culture-bound
Every Filipino on earth is a sucker for a good love story (whether they admit it or not). So when you mix that with a couple of cultural aspects, like the importance of family, and striving to be the best you can be for them, you've got yourself a hit. 

2) The leads are hella attractive
Let's face it, Filipinos--much like any other audience in the world--are shallow. So when you've got at least one of the leading actors reach that general level of attractiveness (e.g. light-skinned, tall, tan but not too tan, dark haired, etc), you'll definitely have an audience. 

3) Effortless chemistry
One of the things that will ultimately sell a show to an audience is the actors' on-screen chemistry. You can't fake that. With James Reid and Nadine Lustre's acting, everything seems to come naturally that they are able to make us believe that the fantasy is real. 

4) It stimulates wanderlust
No matter what age you are or where you are from, you will always find someone who loves to travel. TV in itself has always been a form of escapism, but when people see the places they want to be at through it, then you’ve got yourself a good bet that that show is going to be a hit. 

5) Writing and Direction is on point 
It's rare to find quality films and television shows in the Philippines now-a-days. What with the recycling of exhausted plots, overexposed actors--I mean, celebrities--it actually comes as a surprise that something produced by mainstream media ends up being great; great being substantial, visually appealing, and cohesive. Antoniette Jadaone is someone who understands her market and is a true artist in her field. She is, I feel, one of those people who won't let high ratings or an influx of revenue get in the way of a good story. Props to you, Ms. Jadaone. You're doing the industry proud. 

Photo from the On The Wings Of Love's official Facebook page

Despite all of these great aspects, though, I can't help feeling guilty for liking it so much. It's like there's this fear that stops you from being proud of something that's so mainstream--that it's not cool to be part of the norm; add that to the fact that there will be people who will judge you for being lame or jej (jejemon), or jologs. 

It wasn't until about a week ago, when I was having a conversation with my co-worker that I realized why and how you could hate that you love the show. She said to me, "it's because it's a no-brainer," and I realized, she was right. OTWOL isn't the type of show that you have to think about what's going on on-screen or where you have to make intelligent guesses about what's going to happen next; It's just a good narrative that plays on your emotions, the way Filipinos love their teleseryes. 

Hey, it's not perfect, but it's ours--and a hell of a lot better than what was produced over the past I-don't-even-know-how-many years. After all, audiences now are smart enough to know when they're being served quality output or not. 

The success of this show makes me feel that the Filipino audience is ready for more out-of-the-box stories and that we're finally moving from the cliché sarswela plotlines. So I guess what I'm trying to say is give it a chance. It doesn't hurt to patronize your own culture every once in a while.

What do you think of the show? Leave a comment below and let's get the conversation going. 

Thanks for reading! :)

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