Maria Clara at Ibarra, described by its creators as a historical portal fantasy series, doesn’t just talk about the love between the two main leads, it also tackles patriotism and promotes nationalism.
The series, which premieres tonight on GMA, is top-billed by Barbie Forteza as Klay, Julie Anne San Jose as Maria Clara, and Dennis Trillo as Ibarra.
“We created this series to further tell the youth why it is so important to study our history, our literature. We wanted to elevate the conversation. Hindi lang ito tungko, sa isang pag-iibigan, ito rin ay tumatalakay ng mga usapin ukol sa pag-ibig sa bayan,” Zig Dulay, the director, told Manila Standard Entertainment during the series’ media conference held in Intramuros, Manila last week.
“The series will discuss why revisiting Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and other novels based on our history is important. We wanted the viewers to learn why the issues discussed in these books are still relevant to the issues that confront us today,” Dulay added.
Maria Clara at Ibarra follows the story of Klay, a Gen Z nursing student who aims to work and bring her family abroad.
She is almost graduating soon, but not until she failed a minor subject – Rizal Studies. Klay believes that this subject is irrelevant to her life and future career.
Mr. Jose Torres, Klay’s professor, gave her another chance to pass Rizal Studies and he lent her a book of Noli Me Tangere. Klay had not even read several pages of the novel when she got bored and fell asleep.
The mystery begins when Klay wakes up in the world of Noli Me Tangere. Much to her surprise, Klay finds Mr. Torres in the alternate timeline. Klay was told that she can only return to the present once she finishes the book and learns all the lessons from the novel of Dr. Jose Rizal.
As she navigates the real world of Noli Me Tangere, Klay meets Maria Clara, Crisostomo Ibarra, the curates, the ilustrados, and the indios. This will open her eyes to the realities and sufferings of ancient Filipinos during the Spanish colonization.
Amid her historical adventure, Klay forms a bond with Maria Clara and discovers the differences and similarities between a Filipina, then and now. She also witnesses the love story of Maria Clara and Ibarra.
Dulay also reveals their efforts to keep the accuracy and credibility of Jose Rizal’s novels by hiring consultants for the show, “We have consultants and historians. We even have a language coach.”
Meanwhile, the show’s Creative Consultant, Suzette Doctolero, shares the extensive research they have been doing to ensure the quality of this complex story that tackles history.
“The entire creative team is required to read Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, and books on Philippine history.
Mahalaga rin na mismong mga writers, may stand sa mga importanteng usapin sa kasaysayan,” Doctolero said. Playing equally important roles in the series are Tirso Cruz III as Padre Damaso, a Franciscan friar who has deep-seated resentment against Ibarra; Manilyn Reynes as Narsing, the softhearted and loving mother of Klay; Rocco Nacino as Elias, a fugitive who will become Ibarra’s devoted supporter; David Licauco as Fidel, a playboy businessman and Ibarra’s friend; Juancho Trivino as Padre Salvi, a cunning and ruthless friar who has a secret desire for Maria Clara; Juan Rodrigo as Kapitan Tiago, the influential gobernadorcillo and a friend of the friars; Ces Quesada as Tiya Isabel, the cousin of Kapitan Tiago who raised Maria Clara as her own child; Dennis Padilla as Mang Adong, a loyal servant of Ibarra; Lou Veloso as Mr. Jose Torres, the professor of Klay in Rizal studies and the reason behind her time travel; Gilleth Sandico as Donya Victorina, a pretentious Filipina who tries to look and speak like a mestiza; Karenina Haniel as Victoria, the close friend of Maria Clara; and Andrea Torres as Sisa, the affectionate mother of Crispin and Basilio who loses her mind while searching for her sons.
Maria Clara at Ibarra premieres tonight at 8:00 and airs weeknights on GMA and GTV.