‘Pira-pirasong Paraiso’ further sizzles with  the iconic Maricel Soriano

Are the Kapuso network’s afternoon soaps doing better than those co-produced by ABS-CBN and TV5, namely, Pira-pirasong Paraiso and Nag-aapoy na Damdamin, which air 3 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. respectively, on TV-5, A2Z and all of ABS-CBN’s streaming platforms?

If ABS-CBN, as the content creator of both shows, has decided to add the iconic Maricel Soriano to the cast of Pira-piraso, it may just be to mark the fact that the show has entered its second season since it started airing on 25 July this year. It is not necessarily an admission that the Kapuso shows are doing better. After all, competition between GMA 7 and ABS-CBN has turned into collaboration, hasn’t it?

Actually, when those new

co-production series between ABS-CBN were launched, the Kapuso network had already begun airing on its afternoon slots the soaps Abot-Kamay Na Pangarap, Magandang Dilag and The Seed of Love.

Abot-Kamay has been building up viewership since September last year. It’s a melodrama about a medical doctor who’s supposedly the youngest in the country, portrayed by young star Jillian Ward, a GMA 7 homegrown talent since her childhood.

By July 2023, the series was leading the pack — with stage thespian Pinky Amador catapulted to top contravida.

It’s a well-cast show that features in major roles Dina Bonnevie, Richard Yap, Carmina Villaroel, Dominic Ochoa, Dexter Doria and Pinoy-Japanese actor Kazel Kinouchi, a discovery of ABS-CBN through an edition of the reality show Pinoy Big Brother who jumped over to GMA 7 to be among the network’s young and lovely villains.

Magandang Dilag (Beautiful Maiden) entertains with its yarn about a duckling-turned-swan through surgery and wealth inherited from her estranged father. Herlene Budol plays the title character.

The Seed of Love, meanwhile, was about a couple who had a baby through in-vitro fertilization, only to find out later that the baby they have is not from the sperm cell of the biological father because the banked sperm was stolen by a woman obsessed with the sperm depositor.

Glaiza de Castro and Mike Tan portrayed the couple, with Valerie Concepcion as the sperm thief.

The show was uprooted in August and replaced by The Missing Husband, starring Rocco Nacino, a registered (but non-practicing) nurse in real life. Nacino plays husband to Yazmin Kurdi, who decides to invest all their savings in a venture offered by a trusted friend who turns out to be a scammer.


Formidable shows

These three GMA 7 shows may be said to be formidable because there are days they do better in the ratings than GMA 7’s evening primetime shows. And that’s according to the network itself.

ABS-CBN and TV5 afternoon offerings are Pira-pirasong Paraiso and Nag-aapoy na Damdamin, both of which were launched only in July this year.


A seemingly good reason to add Maricel Soriano to the largely young cast of Pira-pirasong Paraiso is to have her pitted against Snooky Serna, Soriano’s rival during their heyday in the ‘80s-‘90s as the top stars of Regal Films, dubbed the “Regal Babies.”

When the show was launched, Serna was proudly announced as having a “special participation” in the series. She serenely sat out the long media session in which most of the queries were addressed to the young female leads Loisa Andalio, Charlie Dizon, Alexa Ilacad and the single mom Elisse Joson. Their leading men Ronnie Alone (for Andallo) and KD Estrada (for Ilacad) were there, too.

Soriano is now billed in the show’s opening credits the way Serna is: “special participation.” Recent episodes of the series showed them in sharp verbal clashes. The series scriptwriters are geniuses when it comes to unexpected twists and turns that are fairly credible.

Soriano was recently given a special media conference where she was nothing but sweet and serene to cautiously phrased questions by journos and vloggers aware of her previous reputation as “Taray Queen.”

Soriano, 58, is fondly addressed by everyone as “Inay” (mother), which she seems to love. She confirmed the talk about her having four dogs, three of whom stay with her in her bedroom and occupy the middle part of her bed at night.

Soriano didn’t bark at being told that she has developed a reputation for giving her co-stars the most realistic slap in many of her recent movies and TV soaps.

Andalio, Ilacad, Dizon and Joson admitted they were all stiff-scared of Soriano during their first scenes with her — but then found out that she is super-sweet, assuring, gentle and very motherly off-camera.

When asked who among the young stars she’d like to work with, Soriano readily mentioned Enchong Dee, Daniel Padilla and Joshua Garcia.

Garcia was told about it by some scribes in another presscon, and the country’s top young actor said he was flattered by Soriano’s revelation and is willing to be slapped by her should they get to work together.