This isn’t news to you: we’ve poked fun at a lot of GMA shows in the past. If they were bad, we didn’t hold back. Through it all, we kept looking at the few positives we could find, and hope that as time went by, the positives would outweigh the negatives.
This time around, we get to sing the praises of a GMA show unironically. And yes, controversial writer be damned, when we have good local programming, it really deserves to be pushed to the forefront, and Maria Clara at Ibarra is just that. So while ABS-CBN gets to queerbait us with #Darlentina, let’s take a look at how GMA takes the Isekai concept for 2022 and turns it on its head. Let’s talk reasons why you should be watching Maria Clara at Ibarra (if you weren’t already).
8. It’s everything we’ve been demanding writers do for years.
“Why can’t we use Philippine History better?” We’ve heard this battlecry for better quality TV for ages — and every single time a movie like Heneral Luna and Goyo takes centerstage. Finally, local TV has granted us our very wish, so the least we could do is put our money where our mouth is and support exactly what we asked for as an audience.
7. They clearly put a lot of effort into this.
And I don’t mean that in just the “they tried their best, so let’s support them” sense. You really can tell that from the choices they made in casting to the way they finally learned how to show rather than tell their plot points, this show was made with genuine love and care. It takes the world of Jose Rizal’s first book, jams it right into Gen-Z sensibilities, and lets the sparks fly.
6. It melds the old with the new so beautifully.
Love the transitions! Ang galinggg! #MCINoliYarn | Barbie Forteza pic.twitter.com/0GB3Kz5dcX
— ♔ (@madyannexbarbie) October 4, 2022
Remember Flying House? Okay, this probably reveals my age as everyone else is screaming Fushiigi Yuugi, but the idea of throwing a contemporary person into a period fictional world, while not exactly unique, definitely works well in the context of Philippine History. Considering how we are in the middle of an era where the value of history is being questioned, it is rather remarkable to see a show that seeks to undo this deconstruction and devaluation by letting both the past and the present learn from each other.
5. It’s the perfect platform to be as woke as you want to be.
Mass media, in an attempt to be more inclusive and more accessible, has been more woke than ever, but often to hamfisted and shoehorned effect. There’s a time for everything, and not every single time is a time to discuss social issues. Maria Clara at Ibarra by its very conceit, is the perfect time to do so.
Want to talk about politics, both past and present? It fits. Want to talk about historical revisionism? It fits, too. How about sexism? In a series set in colonial Spain? Heck, yeah! How about what it means to be a Filipino? Absolutely. All these and more are topics that will never feel out of place, because the very premise of the show means it would actually be weird if they didn’t touch on these issues.
4. It allows us to glimpse our heroes through a modern lens.
“It was a different time,” we would often say as we handwaved Jose Rizal’s lothario ways. True, but Maria Clara at Ibarra truly does something special here by contextualizing Noli Me Tangere and its universe through the eyes of Klay, who serves as our audience surrogate. Instead of revising history, we get to contextualize, and thus, understand it better. Not to think poorly of our heroes and their works, but to see that heroism isn’t always “because of,” but sometimes, even “in spite of.”
3. It’s actually entertaining and empowering.
For all its historical weight and importance, what seems to put Maria Clara at Ibarra in rarefied air compared to other GMA shows, in general, is that it actually doesn’t take itself too seriously. Where most GMA shows do, Maria Clara at Ibarra isn’t beyond poking fun at itself and its conceit through some well-placed lampshade hanging. It’s self-aware to a level previously thought impossible of the show’s writing team, is what I’m trying to say.
2. It could only lead to better programming.
If Maria Clara at Ibarra succeeds where Viktor Magtanggol and Kara Mia failed, it would tell the people who produce shows for GMA that the standard for a well-watched show on TV has been raised, and the same ol’ same ol’ won’t cut it anymore. Who knows? Maybe they can stop being so defensive about their work and just come out with better stuff from this point on.
1. Barbie. Forteza.
My favorite scene from the Maria Clara at Ibarra pilot episode. OMG those lines, her delivery, her acting. I’m calling it, this teleserye era is going to be all about Barbie Forteza supremacy. 😍 pic.twitter.com/19Aw6Aa0TM
— supernegatrona AKA pink 5🍥 (@supernegatrona) October 9, 2022
Look. If there’s someone who’s made a career out of poking fun at Barbie Forteza, it would be me. That being said, casting her as Klay was nothing short of genius because it really plays to her strengths, because a self-aware Barbie Forteza is a fearsome performer to reckon with. Sure, she might already be among the top five singers in her network, but this role simply makes her go down in history – in more ways than one.
Now, if we just never hear another unnecessary #BarJak update for the rest of our lives, we’d be all set!
Have you been watching Maria Clara at Ibarra? Sound off in the comments!