MANILA -- Six friends who knew each other since high school and whose lives inevitably intertwined as they try to survive in a foreign land, make up the interesting story in the new iWant series, “Hinahanap-Hanap Kita.”
Topbilling the eight-episode dramedy are Maja Salvador and Geoff Eigenmann, with Pepe Herrera, Pamu Pamorada, Hannah Ledesma and Prince Stefan. Dado Lumibao is at the helm.
Salvador plays Helen Reyes, a loving mother, friend and wife. A valedictorian when she graduated in high school, Helen opted to tie the knot right after college and start a family. She married Troy (Joem Bascon), who leaves the family to seek greener pastures in Dubai.
Eigenmann is Lawrence, who needed to prove a lot of things with everyone and himself. His parents and even his brother were all achievers. He was always second best in school, constantly competing with Helen, who became his inspiration for the wrong reasons.
Ledesma is Joy, the dauntless girl who juggles her time trying to find the balance as a nurse, daughter and very supportive friend. She is the president of KathNiel Kadreamers fans club, Dubai chapter.
Stefan is Reggie, a fun, goofy and colorful gay. He used to be a heartthrob in high school, when he was the core commander of the CAT (Citizen’s Army Training). He made a lot of girls and gays cry. He was given a tourist visa the first time he went to Dubai. Yet, he tried all sorts of jobs from being a florist, event organizer to a manager of a flower shop and became ultimately successful.
Pamorada is Margot, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who consistently looks at the positive things in life, no matter what happens. She is enterprising and even sells leche flan for 10 dirhams (equivalent to P14).
Herrera is Homer, the only one among the friends who never finished college. Yet, he is very street-smart and hardworking. He openly admitted Helen was his first heartbreak back when they were in high school.
All of them experienced their respective struggles while working in Dubai. For every character in the story, there is an OFW who can easily relate to the travails and problems of Filipinos in another land.
The series started with Helen on a plane en route to Dubai, where she is set to embark on a search for her missing husband, Troy. She is set to meet up with her five other friends based in the city, with their respective jobs. On the plane, Helen was chatting with her seatmate, played by Rufa Mae Quinto, in a special guest appearance, who is visiting her husband whom she suspects is womanizing.
Upon touching down in Dubai, Helen was met by Lawrence and Joy, who were delighted to learn she was given a 30-day visa. Her two friends readily oriented her with everything she needed to learn while in Dubai.
“Sobrang linis at very, very safe din dito,” Lawrence bragged. “Kahit ilabas mo pa ang mga electronics mo, walang hahablot niyan… Sa EDSA paralyzed, hindi gumagalaw [ang traffic]. Dito sa Dubai, paradise.”
Along the way, Helen saw the top tourists attractions – from the tallest building Burj Khalifa to Dubai Frame Tower to the Dubai Fountain, the world’s largest choreographed fountain, and the Dubai Aquarium, where they met up with Margot.
In every episode, the series presents a backstory of every character – his dreams, hopes, heartaches and ultimate ambition. The friends understandably get into fights, misunderstandings, disagreements. Yet, they easily iron out things.
Over dinner on the night when Helen arrived in Dubai, Homer reminded everybody that after their high school graduation they vowed to “spread your wings abroad” either in the US, UK, Singapore or the UAE.
Joy was the first one to arrive in Dubai, followed by Reggie. Third was Homer and the fourth was Lawrence, Margot was the fifth. Only Helen didn’t go to Dubai, as she got married.
Every night, Helen would dream about Troy, whose real name is Arturo. Their names were played up after the beautiful Helen of Troy. Helen believes she will find her husband. She found it unthinkable that Troy will abandon their family.
The following day, Helen was accompanied by Reggie and Margot to look for Troy. They talked to Troy’s boss to gather the first clue to his whereabouts.
It dawned on Helen that her husband might be locked up in the slammer. Her friends checked on Troy, but no records of him in jail, thankfully. Despite her pursuit of her husband, Helen still makes it a point to check on her son, Aki, in Manila every so often.
While accompanying Reggie to buy textiles, Helen received a call from her father to tell her the good news that Troy sent a remittance for her and her son. She was relieved to learn, at least, that Troy is alive.
She checked with the Immigration and she was told there was no record of Arturo Reyes, her husband, who made his exit from Dubai. Helen tried her luck talking to other Filipinos who might help her locate Troy. She talked to a nurse, a tailor, fashion designer and even Allan, a friend of Troy who sent the remittance money to Helen. The only fact that Allan knows is that Troy was merely planning to go on vacation.
Making a special guest appearance in the series is Jessy Mendiola as Margot’s client, Cathy Cruz, who is about to tie the knot with an Arturo Reyes. Understandably, the friends went out to visit Cathy, pretending to buy one of the bags the latter is selling only to find out, the Arthur Torres (Victor Silayan, also in a special guest appearance), was merely a namesake of Troy.
Appearing in an episode of “Boy Dubai,” Helen called on her missing husband through the created hashtag, #findingtroy.
“Kahit anong situation, kahit ano’ng challenges, kakayanin nating lahat dahil magkakasama tayo,” Helen tells her friends.
Taken from the song of the same title originally recorded by Rivermaya and revived by Jona for the series, “Hinahanap-Hanap Kita” was shot with a very “limited budget, time, equipment and manpower” for only 10 days in Dubai,” shared Lumibao. “We were doing 15 sequences a day in three or four locations.”
Yet, the stars and production crew worked hand in hand to deliver the series that will certainly inspire OFWs away from home.