I was an elementary student when I learned what the words telenovela, hunk, and latina meant and it was Marimar that taught me. I was playing with the remote control at my Tita’s house one summer when the opening beat of the show’s theme came on, and a beautiful Thalia in a mermaid costume was singing. I decided to linger for a little while, curious at this tagalog-dubbed TV show. A month later I was still hooked.
I loved watching Thalia’s transformation from an innocent, shabbily dressed Marimar, who was perpetually submissive to the boorish Sergio (my young mind was awakened: so that’s what a hunk looks like!), to the blonde, polished, sophisticated, and revenge-seeking Bella Aldama. Oh yes, we pinoys loved our fortune-changing, revenge-seeking protagonists- it was a popular theme in Philippine movies back in the eighties and nineties (and who could forget Amor Powers from Pangako Sa‘Yo soap in 2000?)
The fast-paced telenovela slowly gained fame with Pinoys as the characters endeared viewers- the loveable Pulgoso (c’mon, who could resist a talking dog?), the dependable Corazon (with an extremely funny voice), and the hateful Angelica.
Here is the storyline from the original Mexican telenovela:
Marimar is a poor, innocent girl who lives with her grandparents in a hut on the beach, in “San Martín de la Costa”, by the ocean. She falls in love with Sergio, a soccer player and the son of a wealthy man who has beachfront property. To spite his father and his young stepmother, Sergio marries Marimar; however, he falls deeply in love with her.
Sergio’s stepmother, Angélica, despises Marimar because of her poverty, naïveté and innocence. She cruelly embarrasses Marimar, often demeaning her as an individual in front of her friends and guests. Sergio decides to go away to earn enough money to take Marimar away from his father’s house. After leaving Marimar alone with his family, Angélica frames Marimar and tells the cops that she stole a bracelet from her. Marimar is sent to jail.
While Marimar is in jail, Angélica orders one of her servants to burn down her grandparents’ hut with them inside, killing them both. She then forges Sergio’s handwriting and writes a letter to Marimar stating that he never loved her and wants a divorce. At this moment, Marimar decides that she will exact revenge from Sergio, his father, and Angélica.
With nothing left for her in San Martín de la Costa, Marimar relocates to Mexico City after her release from jail. She is offered a housekeeping position at the home of a wealthy older man, Gustavo Aldama, who takes a liking to Marimar and decides to train her to be an educated young lady. Marimar then assumes the identity of “Bella Aldama” and discovers that she is actually Gustavo Aldama’s daughter.
To show off her transformation to the world, Gustavo Aldama decides to take her into town, to the same places where, coincidentally, Sergio and his friends are. Fueled by revenge, “Bella” uses every opportunity to seduce Sergio, then reject his advances in order to spite him. (TRIVIA: she was pregnant all the while. nobody noticed until the end.) After her father’s death, Marimar inherits his wealth. Still fueled by revenge, she hatches an elaborate plot to bankrupt Sergio’s father and humiliate his stepmother Angélica, leaving them virtually homeless while Marimar becomes the proud owner of all their former properties. There is this famous scene where marimar asked angelica to pick up something in the mud with her mouth.
After Sergio divorces Marimar (though he is still secretly in love with her), Angélica is badly burned in a car accident and dies. In dire straits, Sergio marries a rich young woman, Innocencia, the owner of the next door hacienda. Innocencia later learns that she has a brain tumor, and after her surgery, she is so happy to be alive that she divorces Sergio so he can be free to marry Marimar. They finally marry.
Aww.. I rarely watch TV nowadays (except for news, and maybe NGC to put me to sleep), so I can’t comment on the Philippine remake. I will say this though: Marian Rivera (who plays Marimar) does capture the sensuality that Marimar possess.
Here is a scene from one of the episodes of the original Mexican version: