On the Wings of Love, OTWOL for short, is the only Tagalog TV series (teleserye) from 2015 that I managed to watch and for good reason. It is a slice of life into the average Filipino story told in a manner that is witty, engaging and unlike any other.
It really is no surprise that OTWOL became a mega-hit, catapulting Nadine Lustre and James Reid into stardom status rivaling that of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla. Oh scratch that, I actually watched two teleseryes, the other one being Pangako Sa 'Yo, which I will leave for another day.
Episode 1 begins with the show's mantra, "Love like you would a bird. Love it with all your heart and should it want to fly, set it free because if it is meant for you, it will come back."
Leah narrates that she has learned this liberating kind of love at a young age when her mother left for the US to be an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), frequently showering her and her sister Tiffany with postcards and gifts sent via Balikbayan boxes.
One day, Leah's pet dove goes missing and she runs in a panic only to be met with the terrible news that her mother has died in an accident. The grieving family hold a funeral to an empty casket because it is simply too expensive to fly the remains back to the Philippines.
Meanwhile, a kind-hearted boy finds and returns Leah's pet dove on his way to the airport.
On the other side of the globe, Clark (James Reid) participates in an oath-taking ceremony to become a US citizen though it is quickly revealed that he is still a green card holder who is only at the event in support of a friend.
As it turns out, Jigs is somewhat of a jerk and he is in the foulest mood possible after having his visa application rejected once again. Pissed at Leah for deciding to go ahead with her plans to visit the US without him, Jigs breaks up with her and leaves.
Clark skypes with his grandma and younger siblings when Jigs, Clark's cousin, walks in still fuming about his breakup. In no mood to talk, Jigs ends up ruining the mood and it's saddening to see their disparities in lifestyle where Clark scrimps and saves, barely able to make ends meet from sending all of his money home; yet an immature and ill-tempered Jigs decides to give him attitude, grr..
Leah's father overhears her plan to stay in the US illegally as a TNT (tago ng tago, which, translates to hides and hides). Tatang (Joel Torre) is hurt, defensive, worried and extremely against the idea. He asks, "Am I useless, am I not giving you enough?" Leah assures Tatang that he has given plenty but it is her dream to work abroad in hopes of continuing her mother's dreams for the family.
After a heartfelt conversation between father and children, Tatang finally agrees that letting Leah go is what's best for her provided she abides by the law. Off to San Francisco she goes and the scene that everyone has been waiting for happens just around the corner.
First Impressions: My youth consisted of long-running Filipino soaps until the onslaught of telenovelas from Mexico and its eventual evolvement into the more diverse teleseryes. Admittedly, life nowadays has been taken over by k-dramas and c-dramas so it was entirely by my friends' prodding that I decided to give the highly-talked about series a shot and boy, were they right as you can see from my wordiness. Yes, OTWOL made quite an impact.
I gobbled up episodes like there's no tomorrow though at 145 episodes and 40+ minutes each, it's still a long way to go. OTWOL is awesome with charming leads, talented veterans and solid writing that is relatable to many Filipinos; but at its core is a family drama and a romantic-comedy that is universally appealing. Because when you add singing to a drama, it's gotta be a winner, right?
The family dynamics is what gets me the most with the loving dad just being a parent in claiming that he doesn't need all the wealth in the world because what's important is that the family stays together. It must be every parent's wish, yet he chooses to let Leah go since it will make her happy.
On a completely unrelated note, I'm not sure if you can tell but James Reid is a certified heartthrob and it's kinda funny and predictable that they would show off his goods every chance they get. Case in point below.