GMA Network finally aired the first-ever Philippine lesbian-themed telenovela – The Rich Man’s Daughter – starring Rhian Ramos and Glaiza de Castro as the show’s main lovebirds.
The opening episode started off with Jade Tanchingco (Rhian Ramos) narrating the roots of her Filipino-Chinese family. As the stereotypical portrait of a Filipino-Chinese family goes, Jade’s Angkong (grandfather from her father’s side) migrated from Fujian, China to the Philippines and began his rags-to-riches story with a small business selling bags, shoes and socks in Avenida. From the 1950s – 1990s, the business produced more branches and soon made her Angkong’s family very rich. Fast forward to 2015, Jade is now the smart, gorgeous and loved heiress of the Tanchingco clan.
Other Chinese stereotypes included in this show were the blatant wearing of RED, Feng Shui, the Angkong’s serious disapproval of his son’s marriage to a Filipina, as well as the unnecessarily famous gesture of “Mano po”. Of course, there were also efforts put into incorporating some Chinese lines into the conversations. As a Filipino-Chinese myself, I couldn’t help but cringe from hearing the language being butchered at times. However, I am just thankful that at least they are not making fun of Filipino-Chinese people anymore by making the actors speak broken Tagalog. That would have been way more off-putting.
The giddy scenes of the episode were initially marked by the repetitive locking of eyes between Jade and Althea (Glaiza de Castro), who is the coordinator at the wedding ceremony of Jade’s older brother. The meeting at the wedding between Jade and Althea was a bit reminiscent of the lesbian film Imagine Me & You – including the fact that Jade already has a beau, as well as her remark regarding the moment of seeing and feeling the other person’s soul when she first locked eyes with Althea. She mentioned this even though she told the bride a few scenes before that marriage is for expanding the business and family, not for some “esoteric beliefs like soulmates”. Well, another overgeneralizing or outdated, if not false, perspective attributed to Chinese families.
The episode also showed Althea getting hit on by a guy, specifically Jade’s womanizing uncle. Lipstick lesbians probably know the awkward feeling of it all too well. In this scene, the guy makes a poor pick-up line about wanting Althea as a bride. She then replies to him with an indirect comment about the status of marriage equality, “wish ko rin po maging bride at ikasal ang mga babaeng katulad ko”. I wonder how long it would take before this wish can come true in the Philippines.
Another noteworthy sapphic scene was in the comfort room, wherein Jade’s lipstick cap dropped and rolled into an occupied cubicle. Althea walked in and helped her get back the cap. See what they did there with the lipstick as a metaphor? They exchanged some laughs and talked a bit, which added butterflies in Jade’s tummy. After using the cubicle, Jade came out and was met by Althea’s leaning-in-for-a-kiss move. That ended the episode with a giddy suspense.
Sneak peeks to the next episode showed, aside from more melodrama, a few more lesbian characters to watch out for, including Katrina Halili as the antagonistic lesbian.
The pilot of The Rich Man’s Daughter showed Jade’s father offering millions of money to a male suitor who can sweep her off her feet. This was most probably inspired by the personal story of Hong Kong heiress/celesbian Gigi Chao. Hopefully like Chao, the show would progress to Jade being proud and strong about her sexual identity.
I don’t watch telenovelas, but I will be staying tuned to this show and see where it will go. I hope it’ll have a very gay outcome. Pun intended.