In Defense of “Ang Lihim ni Annasandra”…


Andrea Torres stars as Annasandra in "Ang Lihim ni Annasandra"

Andrea Torres stars as Annasandra in “Ang Lihim ni Annasandra”

When I chanced upon Tito Nester Torre’s article yesterday on the PDI criticizing telenovela scriptwriters, my inner ‘Awok‘ awakened. I was ready to grow tusks, morph into my Razorback-self and eat the nearest human being! But I told myself, chill girl, this is your idol talking and he’s got lots of wisdom to share.

In his article Tito Nestor writes:

Television drama series have to continually keep viewers intrigued about their upcoming twists and turns, but their current penchant for doing so by way of “secrets” to eventually reveal is turning out to be dismayingly unproductive. Can’t drama series’ writers think up something else—and better—to keep viewers viewing?

For instance, on “Ang Lihim ni Annasandra,” the very first telecast revealed what the female protagonist’s big, hush-hush secret was—at dusk, the lovely lady (Andrea Torres) would be transformed into—a wild pig! (The show is based on the Visayan legend of the aswang called Awok.- joyce)

With the big shocker already out of the bag, what else does the new show have to glue viewers to their TV sets? Many other things happen on the show, but they’re mainly of the predictable sort, so an infusion of real creativity and exciting complication is urgently needed.

Young Annasandra's first time to morph into an Awok. Kudos to the child actress who was a true picture of pain as she turned into a wild boar.

Young Annasandra’s first time to morph into an Awok. Kudos to the child actress who was a true picture of pain as she turned into a wild boar.

As a critical viewer, I so understand where Tito Nestor is coming from but I would like to respectfully share my viewpoint as a cast member of Ang Lihim ni Annasandra:

1) Annasandra is only starting its third week today (Oct. 20, 2014) and the story has barely unfolded. I feel its not fair to judge a book on its first few pages. If anything, I wish the program was longer because masyadong ‘bitin’ ang 30 minutes.

2) I have read all the scripts up to week 6 and was honestly shocked at the developments and can’t wait to read week 7. I am glued to the story. So are my language coach Ditas Pangilinan and my dear P.A. Jen who helps me memorize my lines. The story is far from dismayingly unproductive!

3) Caped heroes Superman and Batman share their secrets with us from the get-go. Are they ‘old hat’? I don’t think so! Have their stories become dull? Certainly not! The huge buzz around the upcoming film “Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice” proves it. And to this day we still panic at the thought of people in Gotham and Metropolis finding out who Batman and Superman really are.

As for the scriptwriters of Annasandra, all I can say is thank you po for making my job as an actress easier! This is my first time to do a teleserye and my first time to be an all-out evil Kontrabida. Plus, I struggle with Pilipino. But because your lines are well-written, your words roll off my mouth and I become the devil herself!

Me as Hazel Benitez in "Ang Lihim ni Annasandra"

My character Hazel Benitez is a sosy-ex-beauty-queen-Mom-zilla with an axe to grind against anyone who isn’t as sosy as she is. My request to GMA writers – Can Hazel become an Awok too, pretty please? aahaha!

Going back to Tito Nestor’s article, he ends it with this:

Perhaps the better ploy would have been the tack that a few other TV-film productions have favored—namely, a secret that’s kept even from the viewing public, so everyone is productively mystified before the big mystery is solved!

This is the tack that the current film, “Gone Girl,” has chosen to take, and the fact that it’s the top hit of the month attests to the astuteness of its decision.—Keep everybody in the dark, why don’t you?

But for me, to ask ‘Ang Lihim ni Annasandra’ writers to hide the fact that Annasandra becomes an Awok at night is like asking Marvel DC Comics to keep Superman’s true identity as Clark Kent under wraps. It’s just inconceivable. The way I look at it, stories that reveal secrets at the end are different creatures from stories that reveal the big secret at the start. And IMHO, they are both great ways to tell stories.

Annasandra (Andrea Torres) turning into an Awok. She voluntarily locks herself up in a dog cage before sunset so her Awok self will not hurt anyone.

Annasandra (Andrea Torres) turning into an Awok. She voluntarily locks herself up in a dog cage before sunset so her Awok self will not hurt anyone.

With that said, I still think Tito Nestor has valid criticism. To be plain and simple, our scriptwriters and storytellers need to push the envelope because there’s truth to the sentiment that all Pinoy teleseryes are just the same. Indeedy-doody!

But hopefully, tough love from top critics like Nestor Torre will spawn future teledramas that won’t be the usual run-of-the-mill… second-rate, trying hard, copy cat shows! And with the caliber of writers we have, I’m sure they can unleash their inner-Awoks and knock our socks off…

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