My Binondo Girl: A Review

My Binondo Girl is the first teleserye outing of Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) alum Kim Chiu without her perennial on screen partner Gerald Anderson (following their rather public and emotional break up) and her first test as a bankable star away from the popular love team. The series premiered over network giant ABS-CBN in August 22 and has enjoyed good standing in the ratings game so far.

My Binondo Girl is the story of Jade Dimaguiba, a girl who spent her life craving the approval and acceptance of her Chinese father Chen Sy (Richard Yap), who attempted to put her up for adoption when she was young because of China’s One Child Policy (wherein couples either put their first child up for adoption or pay a government fine to have a second child). His decision was swiftly made after learning that his Filipina wife Zeny (Ai Ai delas Alas) is pregnant with a baby boy, which is more favored under the Chinese tradition. In order to protect her child, Zeny returns to the Philippines only to suffer a miscarriage and lose the second child.

Kim Chiu as Yuan (left) and Jade (right)

Years after, Chen Sy, already a successful business tycoon, finds Zeny to see Yuan, the baby boy. Zeny refuses to tell him his whereabouts but despite this, Chen continues to ignore Jade and disregard her as his daughter. Jade vows to gain her father’s acceptance someday and graduates with top honors to prove to her father that despite her gender, she is a worthy daughter.

However, in an unexpected turn of events,  Chen loses his other son Chen Sy II (from his second marriage) to an accident and Jade is forced to pose as Yuan in order to get her mother and gradmother Amor (Gina Pareño) out of jail because of Jean (Cherrie Pie Picache), the second wife’s machinations.  Jade is helped through her journey by Onyx (Jolo Revilla), her childhood friend and determined suitor; Trevor, the happy go lucky stepson of her father’s business partner; and Andy, who started off as her competition but ended up as one of her staunchest supporters upon learning her dual identity.

What’s great about My Binondo Girl is that it appeals to its viewers not just because of its wealth of hot young stars. It also connects with them on a more personal level as the problems that Jade faces involving her family are entirely plausible and is actually happening in real life, not exclusively for the Tsinoy (Chinese Filipino) set but also for those who are dealing with issues of parents with super high expectations, or for those who are having trouble connecting with their family members. Jade’s constant struggle for acceptance at times, seem desperate but is completely understandable for a child who has never felt the love of a parent.

SPELL CHEMISTRY? KIm Chiu with her leading men (from left) Matteo, Xian and Jolo

The writers and producers also succeeded in balancing out the dramatic and comedic aspects of the series, and establishing Jade’s chemistry with each of her leading men with week long arcs that highlight their good qualities. Onyx has time, loyalty, reliability and witty one liners on his side; Andy has charm, sensitivity and breeding in his favor while Trevor balances out Jade’s tragedies with his effervescent enthusiasm and carefree fun. In this way, the series has managed to ensure that no matter who Jade ends up with,  viewers will have some measure of support for the team up.

The conflicts are also well spread out, with the Jean Sy arc at the front and center. Cherry Pie Pichache has proven time and again that she can sell protagonist roles but her portrayal as a scheming and jealous villainess in this series is amazing. Her face offs with Zeny (delas Alas, a brilliant comedian and actress) are also legendary. And while I’m glad that the dual role arc has been resolved, there are subplots that threaten to shake up the lives of the Sys and the Dimaguibas in future episodes. Amber Dionisio (Maja Salvador) as Chen Sy’s potential child out of wedlock,  Edison Wu (Ricardo Cepeda), Chen’s business partner, Amethyst (Lauren Uy), his other daughter whom he sees as invisible and who pines for Trevor, and the eventual clash between Trevor and his big brother Andy, after he learns that Andy is also falling for his lady love.

But what really holds this series together is Kim’s effective portrayal of the title role. Despite her shrinking frame (girl needs to eat, stat), she manages to deliver on the dramatic and comedic aspects of her character and interacts with all of the cast members with ease and rapport that comes off her upbeat vibe.

The series is off to a good start. If the team maintains this type of pacing (and writing), I have no doubt that it will continue to draw in more viewers in the near future.