Edwin & May’s story of redemption

STARBYTES - Butch Francisco () - February 18, 2006 - 12:00am
The topic of sex sells. If there is a sex video circulating in our phones, people talk about it excitedly. It is discussed in showbiz talk shows and the programs rate.

But drugs? Drugs may be in the news because of the bust on the shabu tiangge in Pasig City, but people generally don’t care. Three years ago, there was an exposé on showbiz personalities using drugs, but no one gave a hoot about it (unlike when the nude video of Mahal came out and everyone just had to have a copy).

When I saw press releases of last Thursday’s Magpakailanman on GMA 7 and read that it was about a couple who went into drugs, I thought it was going to be a boring episode. To begin with, these two were not celebrities and so there was going to be little interest in that.

Thursday night, however, I still found myself tuned in to Magpakailanman. I wasn’t really going to watch it, but I found the early scenes interesting enough for me to wait for the next sequences – until I eventually finished the entire episode without regretting my decision to have done so.

featured the story of real-life couple Edwin and May Montealegre, who first talked about their drug problem – and how they licked it – in 700 Club sometime ago. Edwin began as a police asset and during an operation met and eventually fell in love with May, who then worked as a GRO in a nightspot.

Unfortunately, Edwin got hooked on drugs and May, obviously not using her head, also went into it because she thought that would endear her more to Edwin. Their lives just spiraled all the way down at this point and May got so hooked on the habit so bad that she even sold their youngest child to a baby broker in exchange for drugs.

Luckily, Edwin’s mother proved to be a savior and got the child back. She took care of the baby herself – along with the couple’s other child and even May’s daughter from another relationship.

In time, Edwin and May separated and Edwin – so desperate – decided to return to his mother, who took him in only on the condition that he would undergo rehab. Like some miracle unfolding he got cured and eventually became the rehabilitation center’s director.

One time, he had some leaflets made about drug rehab and one of the copies fell into the hands of May, who went to the center not knowing that Edwin was there and was, in fact, its director.

Although hesitant at first, May also agreed to undergo rehab treatment and when she was healed completely Edwin proposed marriage to her and now they are a happy family. Edwin Montealegre is now a pastor and by his side always is May helping him spread the word of God.

The real-life story of Edwin and May is a gem in itself (all the coincidences there are true). But credit also goes to the script of Dode Cruz and the direction of Argel Joseph for presenting this story on television in a fast-paced and most interesting manner.

This Magpakailanman episode, however, also succeeds in great part because of the beautiful onscreen chemistry of Alessandra de Rossi and Jeremy Marquez.

That Alessandra delivers an excellent acting job here doesn’t surprise viewers anymore because this young actress had always been good and has a collection of trophies and certificates from various award-giving bodies to prove it. It is Jeremy Marquez, however, who pulls in the surprise with his heartfelt performance of a drug addict, who had thrown away his life, but eventually redeemed himself. His is at his best in a breakdown scene – complete with rain effect – and for a while there I thought it was going to be another rendition of Morgan Freeman’s performance in Shawshank Redemption (re-created by Joko Diaz in The Butch Belgica Story). I was glad that he didn’t do some cheap imitation of that famous Hollywood scene and this got me all the more impressed with him.

Alessandra and Jeremy also got very good support from co-stars Maria Isabel Lopez (as Jeremy’s responsible mother) and Isabel Granada, who with her effective performance, was able to rise above that small and basically unchallenging role of May’s co-bar girl and best friend. (I wish casting directors would think more often of this petite actress because she had always been very good.)

As a whole, I salute the people behind Magpakailanman for taking the risk and presenting this beautiful story of Edwin and May Montealegre, which proved to be very inspiring to most viewers.

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