‘Combustible’ 6-week drama now on its 7th month

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Ryza Cenon (left) and Sunshine Dizon in a scene from “Ika-6 na Utos”

In “Ika-6 na Utos,” the GMA 7 afternoon soap opera that delivers over-the-top drama with a generous serving of camp, confrontation scenes are more than just perfunctory exchanges of slags and slaps. Rather, they’re treated like a “dance”—meticulously choreographed to leave the viewers stressed out, perversely fascinated, and laughing all at once.

Take this sequence from the show’s May 19 episode, which quickly became viral and spawned countless memes online: A pregnant Emma (Sunshine Dizon), the trodden protagonist, is in a store, shopping for a baby stroller. But mere seconds after asserting ownership over the item, she feels someone yank at it.

It’s her husband’s mistress, Georgia (Ryza Cenon), who’s also expecting a baby. Insults are hurled. And before long—without bothering to ask the salesladies if they have another stroller in their stock—the two are in a heated tug-of-war. Georgia loses grip, but immediately finds a stuffed toy, with which she repeatedly bashes Emma.

Meanwhile, Emma gets her hands on a pillow and chains a five-hit combo—the final blow sending her nemesis out of the door and onto the floor. Shoppers-turned-spectators shriek. Regaining her bearing, Georgia slaps Emma hard on the face. Emma then returns the favor with what looks like a hybrid of an uppercut and a tennis forehand stroke.

Georgia is down and out, it seems—but, not quite. She grabs and points something at Emma that makes the latter cower: a toy gun—menacing in bright green and orange.

Some people dismissed the scene as being absurd. “The writers have ran out of ideas!” they concluded. But it’s also for this very same reason that many others flocked to social media and hailed the confrontation as an “iconic” (in an internet fan culture sense, of course) moment in local television.

“Quirkiness is intentionally incorporated into the scenes, so that no matter how heavy things get, there’s still something to make the audience smile. It’s meant to give them a roller coaster of emotions,” Sunshine told the Inquirer in a recent set visit to a barangay hall in Quezon City, one of the show’s shooting locations.

“The memes are hilarious… It’s amusing to see people’s reactions to them,” the Kapuso actress said of the scene, which took only two takes, and was actually one of the easier ones to pull off. “There are bashers, as well, but we don’t mind.”

The fight scenes are laid out by stunt director Baldo Marro. The steps are specific and must be followed to a T. According to Sunshine, ad libbing is not allowed, lest she and Ryza end up smacking each other for real.

“It’s like a dance; we follow a beat—‘one-two-three-sampal-bitaw.’ De numero lahat (everything’s by the number),” she explained.

Such confrontations are physically and emotionally taxing—even more so than those she did in the fantasy series “Encantadia,” Sunshine quipped. Having spondylosis on her lower back and a muscle tear in her left arm don’t help.

“We didn’t expect the soap (directed by Laurice Guillen) to hit it big,” said Sunshine, adding that intense dramas, such as “Ika-6” are suited for afternoon airing because this time slot is a “sleepy” period of the day. —ALLAN POLICARPIO

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