For sure, you know a lot of pop culture consumers who have grown to be so gripped on their favorite shows, so much so they can easily recall every program's cast members or recite iconic lines word for word with conviction. Anthony Bendo is the same, calling himself a solid Kapamilya through and through. In a simple chat, he can hark back to the first episode of Maalala Mo Kaya (MMK) with Romnick Sarmienta and Herbert Bautista in it, or reenact Princess Sarah's lines on the eponymous 90s anime show. But there's more beneath the surface of what you can just dismiss as fanaticism.
"ABS-CBN has been a (source of) inspiration since (I was) a child... Every stage of my life, ABS-CBN has been a part of it until now. Yung mga characters nila, yung mga linya nila, may tinuturo sayo na pwede mong panghawakan habang lumalaki ka," Anthony began. Born into a well-off family, he would later see his folks succumb to hardship once his then-OFW of a father quit his work abroad. "Ultimo matapon na bigas, iniiyakan ng nanay ko. May mga pagkakataon na yung tatay ko makiki-drive nalang ng jeepney. Ako mismo mag-aalaga ng anak ng kapitbahay (for extra income)... May mga pagkakataon na nagsalo kami sa isang mangkok ng ginitaan," he recalled.
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But Anthony, guided by his favorite Kapamilya series that only showed him how determination leads one to success, didn't falter. He fueled his inner fire by taking to heart the lessons taught in these inspiring shows. Case in point: youth-oriented program Gimik. Then in Manila for college, Anthony would remember a scene where Mylene Dizon's promdi character Melanie complained about growing up poor—only for Patrick Garcia as Carlo to butt in with a message about finding a silver lining, "Buti nga parents mo eh, hoindi naghihiwalay. Nagmamahalan." Anthony strongly thought how his life mirrored Melanie's not just in terms of economics, but also on how both their parents sacrificed and strived from a distance just to support their education. "Yung eksenang yun ang nagtulak sakin para pagbutihin ko ang pag-aaral ko para sa nanay at tatay ko, para maibalik ang dating buhay na kinagisnan namin," he narrated
The Kapamilya fan eventually graduated from college with cum laude honors, holding on to his dream of working at ABS-CBN someday. But destiny had other plans—Anthony didn't get the job. But always optimistic, and even referencing Jodi Sta. Maria's Maya on Be Careful With My Heart, he said, "'Pag may nagsaradong pintuan, may pintuan pa sa kusina. Pag pati yun sarado, madali nalang butasan yung bintana."
Anthony later chose to practice his broadcasting skills in the call center industry, of which he's been part of for 15 years and counting. His dream of working within the Kapamilya network might not have materialized, but his other dream of lifting his family back up has been fully realized. To give back, he has even built them a house and bought them their own car.
"Dahil sa positibo akong tao, lagi kong tinitignan ang mga bagay sa positibong anggulo," Anthony declared, quoting yet another TV show. It's from Zaijan Jaranilla who portrayed a "houseboy magna cum laude" on an MMK episode aired last year, "Mapapagod pero hindi susuko. Mabibigo pero hindi bibitaw."
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Photos courtesy of Anthony Bando