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Following Hiyas and the Trauma of Commercials

Ayun... So Donato Salvador – or is it Salvador Donato; I get so confused – was blown to bits the other day while delivering a speech in some affair or something. And I only found out from the quick recap at the start of yesterday’s episode.

I am talking about the teleserye ‘Hiyas,’ of course; and Silang’s seemingly interminable quest for the, well, hiyas. The soap opera being on its last fortnight, I guess I will see this through.

Albeit, ABS-CBN seems to be doing its darndest to convince me and others like me not to… I mean, the show appears to be aired on intervals of 10 minutes show and 10 minutes commercials and teasers.

Ten bleeding minutes!!! I can go to the panciteria for a bowl of lomi and be back without having missed a moment!

Jesus capital-H Christ! How many commercials and plugs does ABS-CBN think its viewers can bear before they reach for the remote to switch channels?

So that is why I missed Salvador Donato – or Donato Salvador; why does a man have a name of two surnames? – being blown to smithereens by what appeared to be no more than a firecracker. But I forget... It is a teleserye, not a big-budgeted production.

What happened was that I had channel-hopped to pass the brain-atrophying commercials; and forgot to get back to Hiyas. A good thing that the show is recapped at the start of each episode.

What I do not know is if the glut of commercials is a Southern Tagalog thing or if it is also done nationally. I think the PBB Uber-something also airs at the same time; so I rather suspect that this is a local programming thing.

Essentially, what is a 20-minute or so episode is embellished to fill a 40-minute slot until the regional news. Nosebleed, I think, is what the younger generations will call the sheer amount of commercials and plugs.

Too bad because the teleserye has an unmistakable appeal. So Giana, Silang’s fiancée, has left the gubat to search for her beau in the kapatagan. She ends up in jail on account of two violations: jaywalking and threatening officers of the law with what looked like a kitchen knife.

Suppress your laughter because Mercedes Cabral as Giana did one hell of a job making the kitchen knife look really threatening. But, of course, a taga-bundok in a mini-skirt made of sack-cloth was always going to be a piece of cake for the PNP and the MMDA.

So Giana lands in jail; and that is where a fellow katutubo from the land of Tanah finds her and bails her out. “Palayain n’yo na pô si Giana! Taga-bundok pô ‘yun at ‘dî alam ang batas sa kapatagan!”

Like I said before, Hiyas does have its moments. That line was so written on-the-fly and delivered poker-faced and tongue-in-cheek that I burst out laughing. More so when the bail was initially paid in bills and eventually in small denomination coins fished from the pocket. That was good!

So Giana finds herself reunited with Silang; but despite her throwing herself into his arms, he refuses to marry her. Have you forgotten, he asks her, that the other purpose of our marriage is to unify the peoples of Tanah?

Here, of course, we all exercise the prerogative of the teleserye follower; and that is to second-guess what the writers really have in mind.

My guess is that Giana at some point in the next few days will gracefully give way so that Silang may claim the Hiyas; which as the billing and opening splash seem to indicate will be none other than Sapphire, played by Megan Young.

And that is why I am seeing this through... To find out if I have guessed correctly. Compared to the primetime soaps of the sigawan-iyakan-sampalan genre that I so detest, Hiyas is perhaps not so thematically profound.

But it dares to insert moments of light-hearted banter and comedy at the least expected moments; so for this alone this teleserye has been so entertaining.

For all its little flaws, it has kept the audience guessing despite being formulaic. That it does, and that it keeps the audience drawn to it without being overly burdened cerebrally, makes this charming little story a great teleserye to follow.

Yes, despite the fact that ABS-CBN traumatizes its own viewership with the sheer number of commercials and plugs that they show each and every godforsaken afternoon. There has to be a better way, surely!

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