I am not a fan of teleseryes.
I usually go home around 5 pm. If I have classes until 5:30 pm, I go home around 6 pm. The difficulty of riding a jeep in UP, a train in MRT, and another jeep in Mandaluyong during rush hours would result to longer travel time. I usually arrive home around 8 to 8:30 pm. Upon arrival, I go up in my room, finish some school work, and then go down to eat. This is around 9 to 9:30 pm.
The TV is always on. People at home watch Kapamilya shows starting from TV Patrol until the last teleserye before Boy Abunda’s show. Whenever I eat dinner, I always chance upon On The Wings Of Love (OTWOL). It was as if the serye was made to accompany me during dinner. However, this was not my initial thought on OTWOL.
When they were advertising this new show featuring James Reid and Nadine Lustre, my first reaction was: ‘They’re going to have another teenage-loveteam-romance teleserye’. I dismissed OTWOL as one of those usuals, which take popular love teams to lead only for it to rate while the story is less than desirable. That is so pessimistic of me.
But as I eat dinner while watching OTWOL, as the story was revealed, I was wrong. From that first scene in the street corner in San Francisco to the last scene in today’s episode, I have seen them. Why? Because it went beyond my expectation. The story was not the usual after all. In fact, on certain occasions, I see how OTWOL tries to be relevant to the plight of certain sectors of our society, primarily of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).
In my limited exposure to migration research, I learned the experiences of the OFWs especially during times of crisis. Being an OFW is not an easy life. The hardship one has to endure, particularly being away from one’s family, seems unimaginable, but is real and happening. Leah’s American dream is something most Filipinos can relate with. Clark’s industry in order for him to send money for his siblings is not foreign to us. These simple manifestations of OFWs life abroad reflect how OTWOL is sensitive to the nature of most Filipino families today—one that has, at least, a member of the family away to work and stabilize the family’s economic well-being.
Still on OFWs, one memorable scene I remember from OTWOL is when Leah was arranging her balikbayan box to be sent to her family. Clark remarked that balikbayan boxes are now checked and may take time before they reach their destinations. This was during the time when the Bureau of Customs has been on the hot seat for its (in)actions regarding balikbayan boxes. OTWOL was successful in its attempt to bring the issues of the day to its audience without trying too hard.
OTWOL is also sensitive to its audience. During the bridal shower for Leah, Clark wore a police uniform. This resulted in various reactions in the social media, particularly within the uniformed sector. Some episodes later, OTWOL made an apology, still within the context of the show’s story, and again, without trying too hard.
I enjoyed watching OTWOL to the extent that I am able to bring the experiences of characters to my classes, as examples say, whenever I explain concepts and relationships in political sociology and political thought (Of course, only those that apply). I also share stories and reactions with my students who also watch the serye.
There are values that OTWOL imparts to us, like the value of family, of marriage, of friendship, and of love. The line ‘Kung mahal ka, babalikan ka’ and other similar formulations will now be remembered by every OTWOLista as the message of true love, one that does not abandon, but returns and remains. In its simple yet impactful ways, OTWOL has carried us to a roller-coaster of emotions every night, within a single episode.
Finally, OTWOL is not just one of those seryes. It is a brand of its own. It is sui generis. It is the only serye or story that I know that tried to develop all the key and even supporting characters. Each member of the Medina and Olivar families, of Tenement Uno, of Artmart, of Woodlands, has a story to tell and lessons to share. I acknowledge the dedication of the writers, directors, staff, and, of course, the actors in bringing us the best that they can in order to produce the best that we deserve.
I am not a fan of teleseryes, well, except if we are talking about OTWOL. It is sad that OTWOL will end tomorrow. What will I watch now when I eat dinner? There will be no Clark and Leah. But I am also happy that we can and it is possible to have a feel-good, plus drama, plus comedy, plus a life-changing story in one teleserye. I hope to see more in the future. Congratulations, OTWOL team!
Now I must return to work, and check the papers of my students.