MANILA -- “Do we still have a second chance? Naniniwala ka rin ba na (do you also believe) our love story deserves a better ending?”
And with that, Ginny (portrayed by Toni Gonzaga) turns the world of her ex-boyfriend Marco (Piolo Pascual) askew in the box-office hit "Starting Over Again."
After four years, Ginny returns to Manila from Barcelona, and discovers that Marco has moved on. He’s in a wonderful relationship with Patty (Iza Calzado). To make the blows harsher, Patty turns out to be kind, smart, successful and, yes, “kamukha ni Mama Mary.” Life is indeed unfair.
Do we still have a second chance? It’s a line, perhaps, that has been replayed many times in your mind when you think of your ex. You might even have said it out loud to that person. It’s hard to let go of someone you love, someone who has touched your heart so deeply, that’s why you hold on to every last shred of hope.
This romantic film directed by Olivia Lamasan does not spare audiences from the depths of anguish, even if it is frighteningly painful. Many people accept the fact that perfect endings are hard to come by. I would have stormed out of the theater had this film chosen a different ending.
Why do many people relate so personally to the film? Let me count the ways:
1. It’s not always love at first sight. Sometimes, it’s love after irritation.
How many times have you found someone annoying, even obnoxious, only to fall crazy in love with that person? Indeed, thin is the line between love and hate. It’s just like Marco who admits in his email to Ginny that he disliked her initially.
Sometimes, irritation is just a defense mechanism. Often we are attracted to someone who mirrors our own qualities, the good and bad. We can’t help it. It’s part of our narcissistic nature. And sometimes, if we’re lucky, the person we detested but have fallen for turns out to be a great person beneath the hard surface.
2. Everything is perfect, until fear sets in and you run away.
Things were going rosy for Marco and Ginny. They started making plans for a lifetime of togetherness, until familiarity set in. Ginny saw too much of her failure-of-a-father in Marco that she had to escape. As a friend once said, many would rather go for the easy way out, rather than the uncertainty of hard choices but with the potential to makes us truly happy.
When things fail, we beat ourselves up and realize how cowardly we were. Toni was brilliant in her breakdown-in-bed scene.
3. When you miss someone you love, every little thing can be a reminder of that person.
The smallest thing can trigger the deepest memories with that person: a scent, a word, a place, a time of day, a season, a food or drink, a color, a sound, a laugh, a smile, a gaze, a look.
Ginny learned from Marco that tastes and flavors of food evoke sensual memories of a person. For Marco, a picture, a sketch on a paper that’s yellowing with age can open the floodgates of memories.
4. Dealing with a break-up is indeed like grieving over the loss of a loved one.
When you break-up with a partner, the void is palpable, like a gaping hole in the heart. “I almost died,” Marco cried out to Ginny in their confrontation scene. And no matter how hard you try, no matter how much love and support you get from family and friends, no matter how hard you count your blessings, nothing can seem to fill that empty space.
And you do go through the stages of grief, albeit unconsciously: denial, anger, depression, and if all proceeds well, you reach acceptance. But before you reach acceptance…
5. You will bargain, plead, even settle for scraps, just to reclaim that person and win him/her back into your life.
What an amazing kitchen confrontation scene between Ginny and Patty. My eyes almost popped out of their sockets and my ears couldn’t believe what they were hearing as Ginny tried to mess with Patty’s mind, break her confidence in Marco and eventually drive her to give Marco up.
Many people have those embarrassing moments when pride goes flying out the window, and you sink to the lowest depths to get your ex to love you again. It doesn’t always work out, but somehow, you think it’s better to do it and fail, than wonder what could have been and have regrets later on.
6. Just when you think you’ve moved on, life plays a trick on you.
There’s a chance encounter; a text, call or email out of the blue. Often, this tests your resolve and you start seeing signs (or signs you want to see): Why did we have to meet each other again? Maybe we’re meant to get back together…
Ginny asked herself that question over and over again. You convince yourself that you’ve gotten over a person, but seeing him/her with someone else makes your chest feel like it’s going to explode.
You pretend you’re cool, but you’re a ball of nerves when you see each other again. You dress your best, you try to look more gorgeous and successful to make the other person regret breaking-up with you, but secretly you want him/her back. You just have to test the water if there’s still spark or magic between you two.
7. You’ll know when it’s time to give up, lick your wounds and move on.
Often you just want closure, for not everyone can deal with open-ended questions and unfinished business. Ginny and Marco had the benefit of closure. What a bittersweet hospital scene that was.
But not everyone is as fortunate as to have that opportunity to settle score. What to do? When do you stop trying and finally let go? You realize eventually that you set your own limits. You’ll know when you’ve given as much as you could, and tried as hard as you can.
When you’ve done all you could, hopefully you can pick up the pieces, get back on your feet, cherish the good memories, look back without regrets, and gaze into the future, if not with hope, then at least with the knowledge that you will soon be okay.
You will eventually learn to love yourself, and be your own best friend. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet someone special again.
This article originally appeared on the author's blog.