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Walang Hanggan: The End

Phenomenal soap opera Walang Hanggan finally ends.

The phenomenal Filipino soap opera Walang Hanggan (which translates as Eternal in English, although I bet the more fitting parallel title would either be Forevermore, Endless Love, or Eternal Love) had just ended, but it didn’t just end in any way we call normal. It bid its audience goodbye in a splendidly grand way. In fact, it became trending in Twitter worldwide. 

The entire Philippines flooded in tears with the passing of Katerina. Everyone felt Daniel’s anguish, as day and night, he stood by Katerina’s grave. And we all plunged down to sorrow over Daniel’s tragic demise. Emily was ever the Mater Dolorosa after having lost his son many times over, Daniel’s death eternally separated her from her son. But we all rejoiced in seeing that Daniel and Katerina’s love story continued to the other world, where no sorrow, no pain, no agony, no Tomas, Nathan, or Miguel stood between them. But their love story wasn’t bound to end gunshot after gunshot. It was heavenly will that their love for one another should continue in heaven and on earth. Emily got pregnant and she named the baby Daniel. And in the final scene, a family came over for Christmas and they had a daughter named Catherine. And the thread of eternal love affair continues.

What’s surprising with Walang Hanggan is that aside from sustaining the already-stellar careers of the lead, Coco Martin (Daniel) and Julia Montes (Katerina), the soap opera also made their same-generation co-stars a household name. Melissa Ricks (who already topbilled Kambal sa Uma and Nasaan Ka Elisa), Joem Bascon (already an award-winning actor), and Paolo Avelino, fresh from his transfer from GMA, had a pump in their career that made them more popular than they used to be.

Melissa Ricks started out as a contestant in the talent search Star Circle Quest in 2004, where she ended up a runner-up. She was then featured either as leading lady or secondary lead in numerous soap operas in ABS-CBN, including the Pedro Penduko TV series (2006-2007), Iisa Pa Lamang (2008), Kambal Sa Uma (2009), and most recently, Nasaan Ka Elisa (2011-12), before being cast as Johanna, the spoiled brat turned good girl in Walang Hanggan.

From playing bit part and supporting roles, Joem Bascon emerged as one of ABS-CBN’s leading man. Among the big roles he had played include Judy Ann Santos’ long lost friend in Habang May Buhay (2010), Piolo Pascual’s cruel nemesis in Noah (2010-11), the restless detective in Nasaan Ka Elisa (2011) and recently, Tomas, the greedy and power-hungry brother of Julia Montes in Walang Hanggan.
Paolo Avelino was a contestant in GMA-7’s the talent search StarStruck , after which he was cast in numerous roles before he transferred to ABS-CBN. His role as Katerina’s obsessive, sometimes abusive and later insane husband was her breakthrough role and launched his career as one of ABS-CBN’s dramatic actors.

But aside from giving a lift on the careers of these young actors, Walang Hanggan was also instrumental in revitalizing the careers of the older stars. In fact, it became the avenue that reunited one of the most popular love teams in the Philippines, Dawn Zulueta and Richard Gomez. They have been together on screen in the early 1990s, starring in melodramatic hits, including Hihintayin Kita sa Langit (1991), Iisa Pa Lamang (1992), Saan Ka Man Naroroon and Kung Mawawala Ka Pa (both 1993).

Dawn Zulueta’s career began as a commercial model, and she eventually appeared as featured player in the 1980s. Her beauty and acting prowess were however too regale to ignore that she was propelled to the upper echelon of leading ladies in the 1990s. In 1991, she won Best Actress (for Hihintayin Kita sa Langit) and Best Supporting Actress (for Una Kang Naging Akin) categories of the Filipino Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (FAMAS, the Philippines’ equivalent for Hollywood’s Oscar), a feat that remains unmatched to this day. She was also crowned the country’s Box-Office Queen in 1994 for starring in the year’s highest grossing film, The Maggie dela Riva Story… God Why Me?  In the late 1990s, Zulueta took a hiatus after her marriage to Davao del Norte Representative Anton Lagdameo to raise a family. She eventually made her come back in the early 2000s via television. After appearing in soap operas in GMA, she moved to ABS-CBN where she was cast in mother roles in Mars Ravelos’ Lastikman (2006) and Mula sa Puso (2011) until she starred in Walang Hanggan where appeared as Emilia Guidotti, the rags-to-riches lass who vowed to seek revenge after all the misery she’s gone through in the hands of the Montenegros (Richard Gomez’ family in the soap).

Meanwhile, Richard Gomez, who excels in fencing and basketball, started his career as a matinee idol in the 1980s, until he was propelled to leading status in the 1990s. He had a highly publicized relationship with Sharon Cuneta, although in 1998, he married Lucy Torres. Richard starred in the long running sitcom in ABS-CBN, Palibhasa Lalake (1986-1997) before he starred with Torres in the comedy series Richard Loves Lucy. In 2002, he moved to GMA-7, but eventually returned to ABS-CBN where he was cast in Walang Hanggan, his comeback TV series, as Marco, the playboy who fell in love with Dawn Zulueta’s character.

Walang Hanggan also showcased the immortal acting prowess of two of Philippine cinema’s screen queen, Susan Roces and Helen Gamboa. Roces played the role of Manang Henya, who narrated the story of Daniel and Katerina, and witnessed the multi-generational love story. It started on her own when she was forced to give up the only man she loved, Josephh (Eddie Guttierez) because her sister, Margaret (played by Helen Gamboa) was in love with him. Henya was also the one who took care of Marco and Daniel. Margaret was the ambitious and domineering matriarch of the Montenegro family. She had insecurities because she started out poor, and so she wanted things to fall according to her plans and that included marrying off Marco to the rich heiress, Jane (Rita Avila).

Susan Roces, dubbed as the Queen of Philippine Movies, started out as one of Sampaguita Picture’s contract players. She saw the height of her career in the late 50s to the mid 60s, when she was touted against fellow Sampaguita star and real-life friend Amalia Fuentes. Thus, ensued one of the greatest screen rivalry in the Philippine, which sometimes saw here fans, and Amalia’s, in riot. Her most memorable films were Perlas ng Silangan (1969), Florinda (1973), Patayin mo sa Sindak si Barbara (1974), Maligno (1977; FAMAS Best Actress), Maruja (1978; FAMAS Best Actress), and Mundo Man ay Magunaw (1990). Before Walang Hanggan, Roces had already starred in a number of soap operas, the most recent where Iisa Pa Lamang (2008), Sana Ngayong Pasko (2009) and Babaeng Hampaslupa (2011).
Helena Gamboa, meanwhile, was one of the leading ladies of, as well as a popular singer in the late 1960s and 1970s. Her notable film roles included Darna and the Giants (1973), Kailan Mahuhugasan ang Kasalanan (1989) and Unsung Heroine (1995). Aside from her role as the domineering Madam Margaret, Gamboa was also memorable for her stint in the soap opera Tayong Dalawa (2009), where her role as Elizabeth equaled Madam Margaret’s haughtiness and ambition.

Then, there’s the character of Rita Avila, Jane, Marco’s longsuffering yet jealous wife, who knew all the she was not his true love, but Emily. Half way, her role was thought to have been killed by Emily’s right-hand-turned-obsessive-love-turned-villain, Miguel (Noni Buencamino). A month later, a new Jane appeared (played by seasoned actress Eula Valdez), in the guise of Jean, who introduced herself as Jane’s cousin. Eventually, it was found out that she was Jane, that she survived the plane crash and that she had to get her face changed so she could investigate who really plotted to kill her. Eventually, she was killed (again) by Miguel.

Walang Hanggan also welcomes back the comic tandem of Harlene Muhlach (Katerina’s loyal attendant) and Ogie Diaz (Helen Gamboa’s right hand), which added a flare of comedy on the series. Muhlach was a teen star in the 1980s, and Diaz is a gossip columnist and talk show host. The couple’s popularity on TV was propelled in the critically acclaimed and long running soap opera, May Bukas Pa (2009-2010).
I also can’t help but notice John Medina, a new comer, who played as Daniel’s best buddy and Emilia’s loyal attendant. His fresh face and seemingly-wholesome image made him the new campus crush. He’s had his share of spotlight when, as the master card player, he had beaten Tomas during a poker match.
Walang Hanggan’s passing left a large shoe that has to be filled by the next show. But with its passing, too, came the realization that another epic soap opera graced the TV Philippine, one that could stand in the ranks of Pangako Sa ‘Yo (2000-2002), May Bukas Pa, etc. Kudus to the cast and staff! 


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