3 Things We Already Love About "The Broken Marriage Vow"
Here are some interesting and intriguing things to look forward to in the much-awaited Philippine adaptation of BBC's "Doctor Foster"
ABS-CBN’s The Broken Marriage Vow is almost here. And Filipino viewers are surely in for a treat with local showbiz’s take on BBC’s Doctor Foster, which also had adaptations in France, Russia, India, South Korea, and Turkey.
Set to premiere on January 24, the Philippine adaptation of the original British drama series presents a familiar plot executed with well thought out twists that make it distinctively Pinoy.
With the K-drama version of Doctor Foster, JTBC’s The World of the Married, gaining popularity in the Philippines in 2020, many Filipinos are aware of this exciting, melodramatic narrative. But to see that in a more familiar setting just adds to the thrill surrounding this series.
We’ve seen the pilot week of The Broken Marriage Vow, and we can already think of several things we loved about it that viewers will most likely appreciate too. We listed them down below:
The cast members and their characters
A series as big as this Dreamscape Entertainment offering needs a stellar cast, and that’s exactly what The Broken Marriage Vow has. From lead stars Jodi Sta. Maria, Zanjoe Marudo, Sue Ramirez, and Zaijian Jaranilla, the Philippine adaptation also features Jane Oineza, Angeli Bayani, Bianca Manalo, Ketchup Eusebio, Rachel Alejandro, Art Acuña, Empress Schuck, Joem Bascon, Brent Manalo, Malou Crisologo, Franco Laurel, Sandino Martin, Lao Rodriguez, Jet Gaitan, Jie Anne Armero, Migs Almendras, Avery Clyde, and JB Agustin, with the special participation of Susan Africa and Ronnie Lazaro.
Jodi Sta. Maria is an award-winning actress who’s known for iconic small screen roles like Maya dela Rosa-Lim in Be Careful With My Heart, Amor Powers in Pangako Sa’Yo, and Marissa Pineda in Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin. This time, she’s Jill Ilustre, a successful doctor and professor as well as a doting mother and wife. Jill’s life seems picture-perfect until one day, she finds out her husband is cheating on her. Jodi is no stranger to plots like this, with storytelling intensified by confrontation scenes like the much-talked about “batukan” scene in The Broken Marriage Vow. But Jodi says the intentions and motivations of her latest character are different from her previous portrayals. During their series’ all-star global media conference, she shares, “Kasi dun sa mga past characters, ’pag sinabi mong gigil, ang gagawin nating gigil is very overt. Kitang-kita mo, very physical. But with this one, halos lahat sa loob nangyayari. Kumbaga sumusunod na lang ’yung facial expression dun sa nararamdaman ng characters. Pigil ang gigil!”
The subject of Dra. Jill’s “gigil” here is Sue Ramirez’s Lexy Lucero, a wealthy unica hija and yoga instructor. Lexy gets involved in an extramarital affair with Zanjoe Marudo’s David Ilustre, a struggling architect.
With 15 years of experience in showbiz, there’s no doubt Zanjoe can deliver on the requirements of such an irresistible character. In the series, David’s duality as a loving husband and father as well as a manipulative cheater will unravel in a must-see turn of events. When this project was first offered to him, Zanjoe didn’t hesitate to accept it although he was sure his character will be hated by many; instead, he challenged himself to approach the character in a way that sheds some light on the reasons that ultimately drive his character’s actions. He shares, “Nu’ng ginagawa na namin siya, mas chinallenge ko ’yung sarili ko—nagbigay ako ng goal na kahit papaano, kahit konti lang, sana meron namang makaintindi sa character ni David, kung bakit siya umabot sa ganu’ng klaseng sitwasyon. Kung bakit siya nag-cheat, kung bakit niya sinaktan ’yung pamilya niya.”
Sue, as one of the most talented young actresses in local showbiz today, impressively breathed life into the character of a remorseless mistress. After more than a decade in the industry, this project is truly steps higher in the ladder she’s climbing as an actress. And she didn’t want to disappoint, so she really made sure to research on similar characters, to better delve into the intricacies of Lexy. “I didn’t want to judge my character,” Sue says. “I really had to embrace Lexy and all of her emotions and everything that she felt… I really had to open my mind to do this character.” In another interview, she adds, “As actors, we really cannot judge our characters. We really have to jump into their shoes, na dapat dala namin lahat ng responsibilidad and open kaming maramdaman lahat ng kailangan nila maramdaman, lahat ng hinihingi sa’min ng script.” But she emphasizes as a reminder to everyone, “Ang tama ay tama. Ang mali ay mali.”
Zaijian grew up in the public eye and will forever be remembered for his role as Santino in the 2009 series May Bukas Pa. Now 20, this talented young actor contributes an important layer in The Broken Marriage Vow as Gio, the son of Jill and David, who’s caught between his warring parents. “Galing din po ako sa broken family, so naiintindihan ko si Gio kung saan siya nanggagaling,” Zaijian shares. “’Yung storya ni Gio dito, parang mas pinakita nila ’yung side niya kasi sa ibang adaptations at sa original, mas naka-focus dun sa family. Hindi masyado napakita ’yung side nu’ng kid, so dito po mas maiintindihan nila kung saan nanggagaling talaga si Gio.” This aspect of the story ultimately shows the effects of a broken family on the children involved.
Although The Broken Marriage Vow couldn’t really veer too far away from the core of the original plot, it didn’t mean the team behind the Philippine adaptation was limited in experimenting with the material. There are characters whose stories were tweaked to fit the Filipino setting, and there are others that were added to bring more color.
For example, in the Korean adaptation, the male lead character’s sick mother is in a hospital, whereas here, Susan Africa’s Marina Ilustre, the mother of David, just stays in their family home; and that’s because Filipinos are known to have such tight-knit families. Another character, Malou Crisologo’s Yaya Maggie (the mayordoma of the Luceros), contributes to the Filipino spin of the show. She says, citing her character as well as Migs Almendra’s Justin (Lexy’s gay best friend) and Brent Manalo’s Migs (David’s younger brother), “The three of us, kami ang what makes The Broken Marriage Vow very Pinoy. We’re like sapin-sapin. We add color to The Broken Marriage Vow... The househelps are extensions of the family and usually, significant sila.”
The characters came to life through collaborative effort. Art Acuña mentioned the “generosity” of the cast members, saying, “Nobody was solo flying. It was all collaborative.”
Designated Meisner teacher Angeli Bayani, who plays the role of Dr. Sandy Alipio, Dr. Jill’s colleague, even helped Jodi bring out her emotions better using the Meisner technique as an approach to acting. Angeli explains, “Ang Meisner helps you na ilabas ’yung talagang nararamdaman mo na what if okay lang ilabas? What if walang magja-judge sa’yo? And gagamitin mo lahat ’yun, ’yung totoong nararamdaman mo tapos ipapatong mo dun ’yung lines, ’yung situation ng scene para maglaban siya talaga. So naha-heighten ’yung circumstances. So totoo ’yung sinabi ni Ms. Jodi na gigil na gigil talaga siya pero dahil nga eto na ’yung situation, eto na ’yung scene, eto ’yung lines, ’yung pagpipigil niya, sobrang sakit for her.”
The Filipino flavors and fashion
The team behind The Broken Marriage Vow saw this Philippine remake as an opportunity to highlight Filipino culture, talent, and artistry. They chose a favorite tourist destination, Baguio City, as the filming location, to showcase the beauty of our country. And in their effort to offer something new, they explored Baguio and filmed at lesser known “virgin locations” there, for a viewing experience that’s familiar yet fresh at the same time.
The lush and peaceful surroundings served as perfect backdrops for a riveting story that’ll take viewers on a rollercoaster-like ride down Baguio’s famous zigzag roads. The weather in this destination is nippy, but the series’ color grading lends much-needed warmth to the series’ tonality; it’s that same warmth that calls to mind the strong and close bond of a Filipino family, which is at the core of The Broken Marriage Vow. Dining together is also a Filipino family tradition, and so there are also scenes that draw attention to well-loved Pinoy dishes like adobo and kare-kare.
But, no doubt, the most noticeable Filipino element in The Broken Marriage Vow is the costume design, elevated by stylist Jilla Sara as well as Gelo Castaños, Mai Chua, and Jessica Perpetua who are in charge of the wardrobe. The “urban Pinoy” outfits showcase and promote world-class Filipino designs and craftsmanship. Director Connie Macatuno mentioned that for the first time in a teleserye, they collaborated with 18 Filipino designers who champion patriotic fashion.
Direk Connie says, “I chose designers na meron din silang ka-collaborate na mga communities or designers na nag-u-upcycle or designers na gumagamit o nagre-recreate ng ibang elements na normally gagamitin mo as basket pero ginawa mo sa bag. Ang gusto ko sana, ang naging dream ko, ang aspiration ko was to promote us na p’wede tayong maka-create ng mga world-class outfits, accessories, bags na p’wede nating ipagmayabang sa ibang bansa.” Among the designers who willingly contributed to the wardrobe of the series are Rhett Eala, Zarah Juan, Len Cabili of Filip+Inna, and Jor-el Espina. Some creations were also from Direk Connie’s very own brand, Lokal Home Art Fashion, which is her collaboration with her son.
Rachel Alejandro’s Nathalia Lucero (Lexy’s mother) was even localized and written as a character who advocates for local fashion. Aside from Jodi’s, Rachel’s statement-making outfits in the series are also worth looking forward to. The outfits and even the accessories worn by the characters were thoughtfully selected to match every scene, like one pivotal scene in particular where Jodi said Dr. Jill broke down. She shares, “I remember wearing this parang polo, na ’yung painting niya was like parang mukha ng tao na parang dalawa… that polo was used for the scene na si Jill almost lost it. Alam mo ’yung parang feeling ko, ’yung damit is umaayon din dun sa emosyon nu’ng eksena.” Jodi also loves that their vibrant outfits add pops of colors to the environment of Baguio. She notes, “’Pag nakita mo siya sa kabuuan, ang ganda-ganda ng visual. Bumagay siya dun sa lugar.”
The “Marites” treatment
First of all, “Who is Marites?,” as Art Acuña funnily asked during the series’ all-star media conference. For the uninitiated, the name “Marites” (an abbreviated word for “Mare, ano’ng latest?”) has become a slang term netizens use to refer to those whose pastime is to gossip. It traditionally refers to that group of ladies in the same neighborhood who are into prying into others’ personal lives (also known as chismosas), and now the term is ubiquitous online and has spurred countless memes.
And with the story of The Broken Marriage Vow that delves into an extramarital affair involving a woman younger than the legal wife, there’s easily a subject of gossip for all types of Marites. But beneath the initial layer of that gossip feel, there are many lessons to be learned and realizations that will surface in The Broken Marriage Vow.
“Iba tayo magkuwentong mga Pilipino eh. Kwentong Pinoy itong kinukuwento natin eh, that’s why we adapted it sa kultura ng Pilipino. Hindi naman natin p’wede ikuwento ’yung Doctor Foster original na parang ’yun din ’yung nangyari dito sa Pilipinas eh kasi magkaibang-magkaiba eh. Magkaiba ’yung kultura, magkaiba ’yung pakiramdam, magkaiba ’yung mentality nu’ng mga characters towards certain situations,” director Andoy Ranay says. So even if the viewers already watched Doctor Foster or The World of the Married, they’ll still see this series in a different light, with all the nuances that have been woven into the storytelling.
Direk Andoy adds, “Isa sa mga paraan ng pagshu-shoot namin, ’yung idea was para kang kapitbahay na nanonood sa kapitbahay mo… Marites tayo d’yan!”
Another interesting thing is that, as pointed out by host MJ Felipe in reference to a statement by direk Connie, “You will see yourself in this series.” You may not be a mother or a wife with a cheating husband, but perhaps you’re a relative, a friend, or a colleague of a person involved in a similar situation. This makes The Broken Marriage Vow relatable to a wide range of viewers.
“Iba ’yung soul ng serye na ito. Napanood mo ’yung Doctor Foster, pero iba naman ang hatid ng actors natin. Iba ’yung kaluluwa na binigay nila sa characters nila,” Direk Connie points out. “Iba ’yung location natin. Makikita ’yung bansa natin in a different way, ’yung storya natin bilang Pilipino.”
The Broken Marriage Vow is now available on VIU, ahead of its TV broadcast. Catch its premiere on January 24 at 8:40 PM on Kapamilya Channel, TV5, A2Z, Kapamilya Online Live on ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, and TFC.
Photos from ABS-CBN and Dreamscape