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Paraiso Concludes... Rather Abruptly...

Well there you have it! Precious Hearts Romances’ afternoon soap opera Paraiso concluded yesterday, the 5th of April. The ratings game for these afternoon soaps must really be cutthroat because, as with the previous afternoon series that I followed – Pintada – one sort of got the feeling that the series was abbreviated even if there were still so many more stories to tell.

Paraiso started as a little shipwreck romance the charm of which fed off the great onscreen chemistry between Jessy Mendiola and Matteo Guidicelli as Yani Alipio and Brennan Zarate-Galang, respectively.

From being flippant and humorous while the couple was still marooned in this remoted island somewhere, the series became progressively dark. Mendiola and Guidicelli responded; and in particular showed the range of their abilities by being as convincing in heavy drama as they were earlier in the lighthearted island moments.

I did feel that the writers wrote a tad too many interpersonal complications into the story and was curious about how they would subsequently untangle these. They did, to be fair; but how they did so gave this erstwhile light romance an almost shocking amount of violence.

At least, the wedding scene was really lovely and both Yani and Brennan simply glowed. While they were saying their vows, they did not look like they were acting at all. But I am being naughty as a tabloid gossip monger!
Eric (played by Guji Lorenzana) was the lover of Brennan’s wife Meagan (played by Jewel Mische) and would eventually get proof by DNA analysis that young Thirdee Galang (played by Maki Billiones) was in fact his rather than Brennan’s son.

The resolution to this? Kill Eric; albeit by accident in a brawl with Brennan inside a hotel room.

While Meagan was Brennan’s lawful wife, she was not only romantically involved with Eric but was also the reason why the love that was spawned in the remote island between Yani and Brennan had to be suppressed.

So Meagan was killed as well by way of a vehicular accident. It was becoming dangerous for a character to be the third point of a love triangle in this soap opera because the character was bound to be killed off.

As things stood, Justin Abar (played by Matt Evans) – Yani’s childhood friend and one-time fiancé – was still in love with Yani despite having moved on with his life after their breakup and having in Nicole (played by Shey Bustamante) a current girlfriend.

So Justin got killed, too; by accident at the hands of Brennan, who was starting to seem like he was after a Guiness record for having killed the most people by accident.

There was one more character to be killed in Nicole, smothered in her hospital bed by Cassandra (played by Denise Laurel) because she was prime witness to the hostage-taking of both Brennan and Yani which she jointly orchestrated with her killer.

The hostage-taking provided a robust dramatic workout for Mendiola and Guicidelli, who both excelled. Bustamante as the hostage-taker Nicole seemed fresh out of Acting 101.

The wonder of it all was that Cassandra, the slutty lawyer who was hell-bent on standing in the way of a happily-ever-after ending for Yani and Brennan, stayed alive till the end. In fact, she got into an unlikely reconciliation with the two after trying to kill both of them in their honeymoon. It was almost comical.

The character was made out to be this crazed jilted lover who was obsessed with avenging the loss of her unborn child – Brennan’s – by miscarriage. Just because Brennan plucked her out of the sea instead of leaving her to die, this singular act of kindness suddenly turned her into a repentant would-be killer.

Interesting twist. But lame.

Laurel, by her own admission, had fun doing Cassandra, a role that contrasted with the heroine that she played for the earlier soap Pintada. She excelled in both roles.

Unfortunately, Cassandra’s character from being a minor supporting role started to choke the life from out of the story. There were times when one wondered if the story was about Yani and Brennan or about Cassandra.

To be fair, Yani’s epilogue narration thematically explained that the Paradise that we all seek is really just inside all of us. This was the reason for the title of the series and what the story was – or so they would have us believe – all about.

In the haste to conclude, the conflict between Yani and Brennan’s family – who had been opposed to her becoming Brennan’s wife – was almost forgotten. One can say that how this conflict was resolved – after the wedding – was neatly done.

However, the short scene with the elder Galangs and Brennan’s two sisters suddenly being all smiles and asking to be forgiven had ‘afterthought’ written all over it. At least, the writers did not forget that this was still hanging; albeit, the conflict was such a rich subplot that could have been explored.

At least, the wedding scene was really lovely and both Yani and Brennan simply glowed. While they were saying their vows, they did not look like they were acting at all. But I am being naughty as a tabloid gossip monger!

The soap ending where it started – i.e. the island – was a neat touch. So were concluding scenes showing Yani pregnant and Brennan having fun at the beach with Thirdee and their own children. Paraiso was how it started but took so long and so difficult to regain.

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