MANILA — Perhaps the most heartbreaking moment of this Saturday’s “Maalaala Mo Kaya” (MMK), which continued last week’s episode, was near the end, when it showed Arjo Atayde, as Israel Bactol, or the doctor who died of COVID-19, in intensive care.
He is barely conscious with most of his body affected. He is unable to speak and the only thing we hear is a song. “Ipapaalala ko sa ‘yo ang aking pangako na ang pagibig ko’y laging sa ‘yo,” sings a tearful Jane de Leon, as Lerma Iglesia, the girlfriend of Bactol who is also a doctor.
It’s one of their final conversations that was shown, and it took Bactol almost all his remaining strength to lift his fingers up to form a heart and show it to Iglesia during their video call as thanks.
The next time we see them again talking through phone, Bactol dies.
The episode stands as a reminder of how the virus can be cruel, taking the life of a doctor who has seemingly done nothing but good in his life. Whether making his parents proud through his achievements, fighting for a better healthcare system, or by simply being a person who loved dearly.
Bactol, "MMK" showed, is more than just a statistic.
Like undoubtedly many of the thousands who died of the virus, he was a person with dreams. His was for his girlfriend and their promise to see the world, for his mother, and for those who continue to struggle to get proper medical care in the provinces.
“Huwag nating sayangin ang mga sakripisyo nila,” said the show’s host Charo Santos.
Atayde was superb in his portrayal of Bactol, who was often awkward but at the same time always sincere in his actions.
De Leon was equally impressive, especially during the breakdown she had over her boyfriend’s death, and this could be seen as a glimpse into what to expect from her when she finally takes on the mantle as Darna, if the role should demand drama.
Sylvia Sanchez was another standout and one can’t help but feel through her the pain of losing a child at a time when the virus even takes away the chance to properly grieve.
A replay of the episode can be watched on iWant-TFC.