Deconstructing Teenage Pregnancy in Katorse

Katorse is a noontime soap opera about a small town girl who gets pregnant at fourteen. Nene, the story’s central character, is introduced as young and naïve. She is at the age of playing Chinese garter and wearing braided pigtails. But she would soon fast forward through this phase when her childhood playmate Gabby, who had promised to marry her someday, comes back after years of studying in the city. He has forgotten about Nene and fallen in love with someone else, yet Nene insists that they are meant to be together. Not too long after having her first menstruation, she has sex for the first time with Gabby and gets pregnant. She finds herself straddling between childhood and adulthood.

The families of the young couple, as well as the townspeople, react negatively to the news. With regard to Post-structuralism, there is apparently a binary opposition between the conservative and the deviant, wherein the former dominates the latter. With conflict after conflict thrown at Nene due to her choices, the narrative supports Philippine society’s standard of financial stability and maturity as a qualification for marriage; The lack thereof would have adverse consequences. Nene is now tied to Gabby who mistreats her and reveals that he did not truly love her. Their union causes tension between their parents who were good friends. Nene becomes the subject of gossip in town, and she also gets rejected by a prominent university. It implies that all of these unfortunate events would not have happened if she did not get pregnant so soon. Thus, the conservative and judgmental society seems to be in the right.

Additionally, it is worth pointing out how the dominant side of the binary is harsher on the female than on the male. Nene’s image is smudged and she goes through constant struggles because of her early pregnancy. She does succeed in the end, but it is an “in spite of” achievement. On the other hand, the same situation is presented as the catalyst that changed Gabby from spoiled and selfish boy to responsible father.

There is also a hierarchical binary opposition that exists between the dysfunctional couple. Nene remains faithful despite Gabby’s apathy and misbehavior. He would occasionally hurt her, but she would hardly fight back. Even so, Nene eventually becomes empowered after seeing things in perspective. She leaves Gabby and finds solace in Jojo, Gabby’s bestfriend. By this time, Gabby has realized her worth and desperately tries to win her back. Nene becomes the one sought after.

One must ask if the story does indeed condemn or glorify the idea of premarital sex. Ironically, it seems to have resulted to some good. From a striving life in the province, Nene got to move in to a fancy urban home to live with the father of her child. This suggests the notion that marrying a rich guy, regardless of love, is one’s escape from poverty. Also, Nene would not have found her “true love” if she did not initially get involved with the person who would bring them closer. The situation became a means to an ideal end.

However, the subversion of the binary opposition proves to be momentary and unstable. Nene’s fleeting happiness would be punctuated by problems due to her complicated relationships. As a resolution, she and Jojo decide to surrender to society’s expectations. They part ways and cut contact indefinitely to pursue their studies and careers. Ten years after, they meet again by a chance encounter. They reunite and get married – this time, with everyone’s approval.

Basically, the text says that becoming a teenage mother would entail much hardship, yet there is hope for security and social acceptance in educational and financial fulfillment. Katorse supports society’s moralistic point of view about teenage pregnancy, yet it is lenient and optimistic about people who deviate from it.

Reference:

Katorse Episodes.” YouTube. Accessed October 5, 2014.

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