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Feel good sitcom gets a prequel

AFTER 11 years of following the family life of Pepito Manaloto, his love for Elsa, and longtime friendship with Patrick through the family friendly sitcom Pepito Manaloto (which underwent a number of name changes through the years — Pepito Manaloto: Ang Tunay na Kwento, and Pepito Manoloto: Kuwento Kuwento) the gang returns weekly in a prequel that explains how their relationships began long before winning the lottery that kicked off the first Pepito Manaloto.

The romantic comedy Pepito Manaloto: Ang Unang Kuwento follows the love story of the teenagers Elsa and Pepito. It also uncovers how Pepito’s kindness brought many blessings in his life.

Set in the small barangay in Caniogan, Bulacan in the 1980s, the show is meant to spark nostalgia over the events, music, fashion, and pop culture then.

The original sitcom’s lead comedian Michael V (Beethoven del Valle Bunagan in real life) continues his participation in the show as creative director. He will be joined by his Pepito Manaloto co-star Manilyn Reynes as narrators of the show.

“I think it’s the best direction. Ito yung part ng story na hindi pa na-explore. It gives the creative team so much freedom to do whatever they want,” Mr. Bunagan said in press conference held via Zoom on July 14. He added that it also gives opportunities for young talents to participate in the show.

He believes that the relevance of its stories about family contributed to the show’s longevity.

“I think it’s the relatability that made it this far… Sana itong Unang Kuwento [ay] maging relatable sa mga baguhan. Kasi, as much as luma yung setting, bago yung interaction ng characters (I hope Unang Kwento is relatable to new audiences. As much as the setting is old, the interaction of the characters is new),” he said.

In the prequel, Sef Cadayona and Mikee Quintos play the young Pepito and young Elsa, respectively.

Mr. Cadayona is grateful for all the study materials he had for preparing for the show.

Habang binabasa ko yung script at inaaral ko yung videos ng Pepito, nakikita ko kung saan nagsimula at kung bakit ganoon mag-react si Pepito kay Patrick (While I was reading the script and studying the videos of Pepito, I saw how and why Pepito reacts in a certain manner around Patrick),” he said. “[in the show,] you will see how he bonds with Patrick and how he interacts with Elsa in high school.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Quintos said that the story focuses on the experiences of youth.

“[It’s about] the relationship of the parents and children, friends, and yung nag-uumpisa kang magkaroon ng crush (starting to have crushes), ma-conscious sa hitsura mo (getting conscious of your looks),” she said. “That is the fun mix about this angle of showing a story about youth.”

Joining the cast are Kokoy de Santos as the young Patrick, Archie Alemania as the young Mang Benny, and Gladys Reyes as nanay/Aling Rosa. Also in the cast are Kristoffer Martin, Edgar Allan Guzman, Jay Arcilla, Pokwang, and Angel Guardian. The original show’s long-time director Bert De Leon is also involved in the production.

One of the original show’s unique features is the lessons and educational segment which will continue to be highlighted in every episode.

Gusto namin na kahit sa ibang libro which is the prequel, i-maintain namin na meron matutunan iyung tao (We want that despite it being a different book which is the prequel, we want to maintain that audiences also gain knowledge from it),” Mr. Bunagan said.

Pepito Manaloto: Ang Unang Kuwento will air Saturdays at 6 p.m. on GMA7 beginning July 17. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman