TV-film screen “princess” Kim Chiu strikes viewers as a young star who lives a fabled, fabulous life—she’s popular, makes a lot of money, gets to play the choicest roles, is adored by many fans and courted by some of the hunkiest swains in Tinseltown. What else could she possibly want?
It turns out that, away from the cameras and the show biz spotlight, the answer to that question is: A whole lot!
Because, in her unseen heart of hearts, the ostensibly happy and supremely blessed and fulfilled young star was in fact hurting, because her beloved mother had been missing from her life for many years.
For a long time, Kim dealt with the hole in her heart as best she could, but she didn’t feel complete because she didn’t know what had become of her long-absent parent.
Then, only this year, she was heartened by reports that the mystery was about to be clarified, and that her and her siblings’ reunion with their missing mother, who had “vanished” when they were very young, could finally transpire.
But, tragically, it was not to be. Because, when their mother finally revealed her whereabouts, she was very ill, and there was only a little time left for regrets, love and farewells to be shared, and expressed.
What’s most painfully ironic about this scenario is that it’s very much like the plots of many teleseryes, the fictive sort which Kim has gotten used to acting in for years. And yet, now that she’s living her own real-life story, it’s turned out to be more challenging—and truly, movingly dramatic—than anything that TV is capable of creating.
Yes, life is more genuinely dramatic than TV melodrama!
What made the ordeal even more painful for Kim were bashers and haters’ nasty and rudely insensitive insinuations that she was an uncaring and ungrateful daughter— which were firmly refuted by many others.
They pointed out that, during her mother’s final days, Kim would go without sleep, working the whole day and then flying to Cebu to be with her mom, then flying back to Manila very early the following morning to resume taping for her recently concluded drama series, and other commitments.
Subsequent TV coverage of the wake and burial of Kim’s beloved mother underscored the family’s loss and grieving even more, as it showed them doing their best to lovingly make up for all those years of estrangement.
Nobody was acting in those shots, and yet their emotive and empathetic power made fictive approximations in teleseryes look pitifully insufficient on one hand, and outrageously excessive on the other.
The fact that a popular actress like Kim was involved in this real-life leave-taking was especially instructive, because of the drastic difference in her behavior.
In her teleserye performances, she was required to be overly voluble and emotionally expressive—whereas, as she bade her own mother farewell, her emotions were deeply and relatively quietly felt, and expressed.
We trust that both actors and viewers saw and understood this key difference, which underscores the huge “believability gap” separating life from televised artifice. And that the former is much to be preferred over the latter. And that performers should do their best to genuinely move viewers not by semaphoring and enlarging their portrayals to “operatic” proportions, but to feel the dramatic moment as truthfully and deeply as possible.