I never watch telenovelas but I have some friends who do. These Mexican soap opera fanatics spend evenings in front of the television waiting for their Hispanic heroes. Who could blame them? The men are really handsome and sexy (yeah right, to me they look very gay, screaming almost). But name these leading men Sergio, Jose Luis, or Fernando Jose and I can almost forgive their too obvious crotches and too artificially sculpted bodies. (Sorry but I do have a crazy fascination for Hispanic names, haha! My first born, if I’ll ever have one will be named… ooops, oversharing…)
And the women, oohlahlah! Sultry blonde hair, 23-inch waistlines, stupid-looking faces who appear to be ready to jump into bed any minute of the day. I guess every imperfect Filipina wants to be like them. And sometimes I do look at myself in the mirror and say ugh! I want that Thalia body too! But of course, that’s ridiculous. A rather too predictable and juvenile self-esteem problem that I’ve managed to kick off as I grew older.
I’ve watched several episodes of the original Marimar before and it wasn’t difficult understanding why Filipinos have a fascination for them. Except for the very irritating discordance of the shape of the character’s mouths and the words that come out, I do find these TV shows intriguing though somewhat too tacky for my taste. Nevertheless, because I enjoy testing the limits of my own disgust, I would have watched these telenovelas if I had regular access to television and the patience to wait as each episode unravels.
Perhaps all of us subconsciously dream to be a leading lady in a telenovela. In these stories, there’s always the long-suffering woman, the unfairly accused wife, the deviously schemed seduction that miraculously leads to a failed pregnancy, the rich husband who unfairly and prematurely judges a staged scene, the poor girl who falls in love with the rich haciendero and then the haciendero turns out to be the pauper and the poor girl is a heiress who rescues him in the end. And here’s the catch. Most of the time, the popular telenovelas always has someone who develops amnesia. There's always someone who forgets and the loss of memory redeems everyone. And of course, the best part that everybody loves is this: there’s always a happily ever after.
Very Filipino. Perhaps that’s why Filipinos dig them. We love them. We hope our lives can be like a Mexican telenovela. We hope that despite the twists and turns of our boring everyday existence, we get a load of drama, good or bad that leaves us stunned at the end of the day.
I hate telenovelas. I hate waiting for the next part of the story. I hate surprises that almost always end up breaking my heart. I never had the patience to stay calm, sit through the lull of a long commercial break, and wait for the next episode to unravel. The part that I hate the most is when I cry. Even these darn cheesy, tasteless telenovelas bring rivers to my eyes. Too predictable. But it makes me cry just the same.
All of sudden, here I am. Ironically, Jean who absolutely hates telenovelas got dragged to a telenovela that is my own life. I don’t know the title, I don’t know the characters, I don’t know the plot. But it absolutely has all the elements of a classic Mexican telenovela that I enumerated above. All except the amnesia part.
Again, I hate waiting for the next episode. I’m fidgeting in my seat, my heart is in atrial fibrillation in rapid ventricular response, my mouth is dry. What’s going on? Who are the characters? Where is everyone? What happened? What happens next?
I hate this telenovela. I hate all these commercial breaks. I most especially hate the fact that a happy ending will most likely not happen at all. I also hate it that while waiting for that happy ending that will never come, I can't even cry, which is so unlikely because I usually cry over the most tacky stories.
I hate this telenovela. But there is something I am absolutely sure of: the part of the girl who gets amnesia belongs to me. And I will be willing, far too willing, to play it.