The Philippine Star

Ate Charo has never left FUNFARE

The unsinkable Charo SantosConc­io became even busier after she retired as president/ COO of ABSCBN five years ago. Her long-running, multi-awarded drama anthology MMK bounces back after a long absence.


Unlike her character in Lav Diaz’s critically-acclaimed Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left), Charo Santos-Concio has never faded out of the scene and became even more visible after she retired as ABS-CBN president/COO five years ago, starring in critically­acclaimed films (the other is the suspense-thriller Eerie, written and directed by Raymund Red), endorsing some products, releasing her autobiogra­phy and continuing as a Kapamilya consultant.

Oh yes, her long-running, multi-awarded drama anthology MMK (Maalaala Mo Kaya?) did disappear for a few months due to unforeseen circumstan­ces but it’s back with a vengeance on the new Kapamilya channel A2Z Channel 11, now airing its all-star-cast 29thannive­rsary month-long specials Saturdays at 9 p.m. Before that, your favorite Ate Charo hosted a five-episode series called Dear Charo that showcased her lighter side (that is, compared to her serious MMK persona). Ate Charo very kindly obliged a free-wheeling interview with Funfare.

What are your thoughts as MMK celebrates its 29th anniversar­y?

“It is a blessing for MMK to be back on air and I am grateful for the opportunit­y to continue sharing inspiring stories of Filipinos and serve our audiences during this pandemic. People have been hit hard by the pandemic and need hope and inspiratio­n, which MMK stories can provide. And the best sources are real stories of people that show the triumph of the human spirit. It is also a blessing for the production team, especially after all the challenges that we faced as a company this year.”

Did you ever think that MMK would last this long and harvest a truckload of awards?

“No. When we started MMK, we all just wanted to tell stories of hope and inspiratio­n. We just wanted to create the best quality drama program. The response from the audiences and the recognitio­ns from award-giving bodies through the years are an affirmatio­n that we continue to deliver stories that are relatable and inspiring as we intended when we started doing MMK. Of course, I wanted it to last but I never thought we will last this long. We are extremely thankful and grateful for all the support all these years.”

Of the approximat­ely 1,800 episodes, what are the three that you consider memorable?

“I have many favorite episodes but the Top 3 are:

Rehas showed the sacrificia­l and unconditio­nal love of a mother. It was a powerful story of a mother, portrayed by Gina Pareño, and the lengths she can do for the love of her three mentally challenged children.

Sinturon told the story of Fanny Serrano. It was MMK’s first LGBTQIA story shown in 1991. But more than that, the story translated that loving is not about gender but it is about being human. It was really a brave gay character portrayal, especially during that time.

Kotse-Kotsehan showed two versions of truth from the lens of two mothers — one who lost her son and the other who found and raised the lost son but was charged with kidnapping.

Your 29th anniversar­y specials are all-star cast; do you personally choose the stars of each episode?

“No, I do not. In MMK, the director and the production team decide on the cast based on who they think will best fit and portray the characters. We are glad that the stars are always very willing to do an MMK episode.”

How many episodes have been made into a movie and

what were the criteria in choosing them?

“We have not adapted any of the TV episodes to a movie. What was chosen for MMK the Movie before was really intended for the film version.”

Aside from Ate Charo, what do you think makes MMK enduring/durable?

“I always say that MMK mirrors our real life, which makes MMK very relatable to our audiences. While watching MMK, viewers identify with the characters and the stories since they happen in real life. Each story offers hope and inspiratio­n, which can help people transcend whatever it is that they are going through. Filipinos are generally passionate about helping others and fascinated with stories of other people.”

How do you re-invent it so that it continues to be relevant with the times?

“I think MMK will always remain relevant because we tell real-life stories. But the production team always makes that conscious effort to add some modern touches in the style of storytelli­ng. We experiment. While we used to just narrate the story from start to finish, we now also do bookends start or flashbacks. We also did two points-of-view versions of a story. And because of the pandemic restrictio­ns now, we will be adding some graphics and animations. The stories will always be relevant, but we also adapt to the present times through our style of storytelli­ng.”

( Note: MMK is also available on the Kapamilya Channel on SkyCable and Satellite TV, SkyCable Channel 8 SD, and Channel 167 HD, Kapamilya YouTube Channel and ABSCBN Facebook, TFC and

(E-mail reactions at rickylophi­ For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealric­kylo.)

Mother Moon Speaks

A message from the mother moon (that is to say, the moon in the maternal sign of Cancer): “You’re not being lazy. Being tired is sometimes nature’s signal. It happens to arctic squirrels and seeds alike -- beneath the snow, a state of dormancy and receptivit­y to signals that will move you at the right time. Don’t worry. This is a short rest. Relax.”

ARIES (March 21-April 19). People are weird and therefore will behave in strange and often unpredicta­ble ways, many of which aren’t worth giving a great deal of thought to. Sometimes, the most brilliant response you can contribute is a shrug.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20). It’s what you don’t say. Not only that, it’s when you don’t say it. Restraint is eloquence. It can also be generosity. Throw in some warmth and good intentions and silence is elevated to “saintly.”

GEMINI (May 21-June 21). Just because you passed the same road sign doesn’t mean you’re regressing. There are roundabout­s on this path. Sometimes, it takes a few circles before you figure out where your correct exit is.

CANCER (June 22-July 22). The energy of this day will be a wild ride -- points of high excitement and dips of lovely calm. If there’s one thing that’s a waste of energy, it’s resisting the flow. Ride the current.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22). Work the crowd and shake out the opportunit­ies therein. These days, obviously, it’s most optimally accomplish­ed in a digital format. It’s also a lucky time to try out new social media.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22). Among the many wonderful things about animals is that they are seldom staring at their cellphones. Instead, they are present in the moment they happen to inhabit. We can take the lesson.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 23). The steps you’ve taken to make your home a comfortabl­e and happy place pay off daily. Also, it’s an evolution. New things will please you and are worth pursuing. Those who spend time in your home will want to come back.

SCORPIO (Oct. 24-Nov. 21). There are those who would rather not be rejected by you, and so they don’t put themselves out there, where you’re concerned. You’re in the driver’s seat here if you wish to bridge the gap with warmth.

SAGITTARIU­S (Nov. 22-Dec. 21). You have gone the distance through an entire cycle. The old wounds are healing in the way wounds do, with no conscious help from you. Your job is not to interfere; just step back and allow.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19). It happens that to communicat­e as fully as you can, you must choose the right words, which can be, in and of itself, a reductive act. “Words cannot express” is more accurate and yet less effective. Just try.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18). Your positive, enthusiast­ic attitude brings the breath of fresh air that was missing in a certain group of people. Usually, you don’t mind competitio­n, but right now you absolutely thrive on it.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20). You don’t always love the tickertape going off in your mind. If thinking the best of people (or, as the case may be, of yourself) doesn’t come automatica­lly, make a conscious practice of it. One day, it will.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY (Dec. 3). You’re a natural-born leader who doesn’t usually seize the role. Rather, it’s handed to you by those who admire your wisdom. Early 2021, you’ll be attracted by the aesthetics of a situation and find in the months that follow that there’s substance to match. This is a love connection that will develop into a creative endeavor. Aquarius and Libra adore you. Your lucky numbers are: 6, 35, 14, 3 and 22.

COSMIC QUESTION: “I’m a nurse in a health care facility that uses a symbol for its logo that my boyfriend, a philosophy major, has told me is incorrect mythology. Does it matter? Should I say anything to the doctors who own the practice?”

Your boyfriend sounds like an astute observer. I believe you may be referring to the caduceus, which is an ancient symbol carried by the god Hermes, and dated back to earlier cultures. The caduceus is a staff with two serpents entwined around it and topped by a pair of wings. Legend has it that the god intervened with his rod between the fighting snakes. The wings represent above, the snakes below, the staff an axis that separates or perhaps balances the two. The caduceus is a symbol of Mercury, both the chemical element and the planetary representa­tion of communicat­ion and commerce.

It is not uncommon for this symbol to be mistaken, in the health care industry, for the Rod of Asclepius, a symbol used by the World Health Organizati­on. Asclepius is the Greek god of healing, and his rod only has one snake and no wings.

The decision to speak of this is a tough one. If you’re going to be a purist about it, one rod represents commerce and the other healing. Which do you think the doctors in your practice care more about?

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 ??  ?? Top, right: in her book, Charo retraces her journey from Mindoro to stardom in various fields. After her retirement, she starred in two movies,
Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left, above) and Eerie (right) with Bea Alonzo, a suspenseth­riller in which she plays a strict- abusive Mother Superior at a Catholic school.
Top, right: in her book, Charo retraces her journey from Mindoro to stardom in various fields. After her retirement, she starred in two movies, Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left, above) and Eerie (right) with Bea Alonzo, a suspenseth­riller in which she plays a strict- abusive Mother Superior at a Catholic school.
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