Maria Clara at Ibarra is the latest series to adapt Jose Rizal’s seminal Noli Me Tangere, but with a distinctly Gen Z twist.
Noli Me Tangere is Jose Rizal’s classic novel that remains one of the most important books written in Philippine history. Even though a tale that exposed the ills of Spanish rule was written more than a hundred years ago, the novel remains impactful. To this day, most schools see the book as required reading for students. You probably read it when you were in school. But as you were reading the book, have you ever wondered what your life would have been like if you were among the characters? That’s the question the upcoming TV series Maria Clara at Ibarra is going to answer with their Gen Z take on Rizal’s fictional world.
THIS AIN’T MANILA ANYMORE
On the surface, GMA 7’s upcoming historical teleserye seems to be another adaptation of Noli Me Tangere. But the show takes a distinct left turn with its premise. Instead, the series follows Klay, a young, independent, and overworked nursing student who’s apathetic to what’s happening in the world. One day, she is implored by her teacher to read Noli Me Tangere, which she does. But, she falls asleep while reading the book, which causes her to get magically pulled into the novel’s world. All of a sudden, Klay finds herself in 1887’s Philippines where she meets Noli’s stars such as Maria Clara and Crisostomo Ibarra.
This fish-out-of-water story then finds Klay adapting to her new surroundings as she comes across Noli’s many colorful characters. At the same time, Klay’s modern-day ideas on society, women, and more clash with the period’s colonial mentality. Barbie Forteza takes on the lead role of Klay. Meanwhile, Julia Anne San Jose plays Maria Clara with Dennis Trillo embodying Crisostomo Ibarra. Rounding out the cast are Tirso Cruz III (Padre Damaso), David Licauco (Fidel), Andrea Torres (Sisa), and Juancho Trivino (Padre Salvi).
NEW GEN MARIA CLARA
Already, the inherent merits of this Zig Dulay-directed soap opera present itself. This isn’t a run-of-the-mill adaptation of Noli Me Tangere, with the wildcard of Klay adding an all-new dimension to the story. Even if you’ve read the book, the tale to be told in this show will definitely be different. It opens up the possibility for many comedic moments in this historic drama as two different periods learn to adapt to each other. Is Klay going to teach Maria Clara how to say “serve,” “bestie,” and “slay?” It remains to be seen. Also, the friction between Klay’s more modern and progressive views and that period’s more conservative thinking can lead to some interesting and insightful scenarios. The elevator pitch of “Gen Z transported to the world of 1887 Philippines” has potential.
More importantly, the show may also start needed conversations on Philippine history and remembering our past. Aside from being classics, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are books that teach us the power of speaking up for what is right. The past months have shown us how easy it is for people to forget Philippine history or not learn the proper lessons of the past. Maria Clara at Ibarra may just remind us of why we should always remember where we came from to build a better future for ourselves.
This series was meant to promote nationalism and love for the country. But at the same time, the show could also discuss how we as a society have changed. It’s important conversations wrapped in what is a fun, unique, and entertaining story that makes the show one to check out. Maria Clara at Ibarra premieres on GMA 7 this October 3.
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