Love in the time of promises and gimmicks

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He saunters into a roomful of people with his face plastered with the biggest smile. It was a humid midday but he does not seem to mind. Dressed in white shirt and jeans, he strikes someone as a simple man. He continues prowling inside the barangay’s cramped basketball court, making an effort to stop by and shake hands with the lucky ones lined up in the front row. This is all happening while a catchy jingle — a mashup of the latest K-Pop hits with the lyrics that goes, “Si Mayor, si mayor ang pag-asa. Siya lagi ang ating maasahan. Kaya wag na wag kalimutan…” — blasts in the background.

Mayor is the third from his clan who runs the town. He says he is continuing his family’s legacy as what his father and grandfather did in the past. And the people keep nodding as if in trance, forgetting about their daily woes with the never-ending road repairs inconveniencing motorists and passersby alike.

KYLIE Padilla and Ruru Madrid.

This is not exactly something that is new but is a recurring phenomenon, specifically in May. Yes, it’s the season of fallibility and gullibility again in a few months’ time.

No doubt, the mid-term elections will see the usual silver-tongued suspects gunning for positions of power, err, public service.

And it’s the opportune time to be reminded of such occurrence. But hard-hitting news and shows seem not to effect the wider audience. Majority would rather be fed with shows that make them forget their troubles.

That’s why the primetime block of the country’s leading free TV stations are filled with escapists’ fodder.

Some content makers, however, are cognizant of TV viewers’ preference that they are marrying entertainment and advocacy from time to time — a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak prospect of the same old story.

This is where GMA News and Public Affairs’ TODA One I Love gets in.

Victor Neri as Mayor Migs Generoso

Teasers of the show have shown the typical Pinoy humor — exaggerated characterizations and flamboyant costumes and made-up look for the show’s antagonist. The protagonists are simple and honest people who live paragon lives.

The show is set in a barangay with the two central figures — Gelay and Emong, the would-be lovers who earn their keep as tricycle drivers. The trailer presumes that they will go against their incumbent leaders — the Generosos, a pair of husband and wife who alternately took positions as mayor of their town — amid their budding love story.

Why make light of a serious topic? This writer asked one of the bosses of the award-winning GMA News and Public Affairs.

“We’ve been producing social-realist dramas in Public Affairs for several years now. Although they have impact and are critically acclaimed, we realize that the ones that really impact on the audience are the lighter ones. This is like a spoonful of sugar so you’ll have some medicines go down. When you get more of the audience to watch, you’re able to communicate important messages to them without them feeling they’re being feeling being lectured to. You’re being too serious, to trying too hard to tell us to vote wisely. This is our way where we feel that we reach a bigger audience,” Nessa Valdellon, first VP of Public Affairs, told this writer after the show’s presscon.

Gladys Reyes as Mayora Dyna.

The News and Public Affairs department, which produce a bulk of the critically acclaimed and award-winning documentaries and shows aired in affiliate channel GMA News TV as well as in GMA-7, has been producing shows outside of their usual scope. They were the ones who produced Bayan Ko, The Boobay and Tekla Show, My Guitar Princess and Inday Will Always Love You. The latter three lean more towards general entertainment.

With the formula of TODA One I Love, Valdellon said that they are breaking into that “habit viewing behavior” hoping to make a dent on many people’s decisions especially come May.
And their formula is likely to work with the return of the KyRu love team, the unexpected pairing of Kylie Padilla and Ruru Madrid, to primetime. They play the lead roles of Gelay and Emong. It was in 2016 when KyRu was born as the popular love team of the hit series Encantadia. And they return to the primetime, specifically on the third slot after Onanay, airing weeknights. Plus they will be supported by wacky and tried-and-tested antagonists played by Gladys Reyes as Mayor Dyna and Victor Neri as incumbent Mayor Migs Generoso.

“We also want to help in the ratings of GMA. So this is like a two-fold thing. It’s going to be airing on primetime. This is something that is appropriate for the prime audience even those who aren’t looking for political content. It’s a quite way to send our message,” she added.

TODA One I Love is written by Volta delos Santos, Robert Raz, Mario Banzon, Lei Chavez and Aya Anunciacion. Show directors are Jeffrey Hidalgo and Nick Olanka.

It premieres tomorrow, 4 February, on GMA Telebabad.

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