At the conclusion of the hit primetime series "Wildflower" on Friday, Lily Cruz shifted her headstrong strides to championing justice instead, no less as the Philippines' future president from a once inflexible path of revenge.
In the finale dubbed "The Wildest Ending," Lily played by Maja Salvador finally comes face to face with her nemeses, Emilia Ardiente played by Aiko Melendez and Julio Ardiente played by Tirso Cruz III, after they connived to assassinate her husband, Diego Torilio played by Joseph Marco.
In an instant, however, the jubilant atmosphere turned horrific when Julio, who had been looking from afar, let out three bullets directly into Diego's chest. By Diego's side on stage was his wife Lily, whose look of pride quickly turned into horror. As men rushed the bloodied Diego off the stage and into a jeepney, the scene turned partly black and white -- similar to an earlier episode wherein Lily was beaten up and almost hanged to death in front of Julio's supporters. The episode on Monday ended with Lily at the hospital, and Diego's fate unknown. The Tuesday's episode, however, shows the residents of Poblacion Ardiente coming together lighting candles. It is to pray for his soul remains to be seen.
Having stormed the Triad's island hideout, Lily is equipped with deadly force to finally take down both. However, with the two at her mercy, Lily ultimately hesitates to put blood on her hands. Instead, Emilia and Julio are both incapacitated as they exchange bullets. Anguished after learning that Julio was, in fact, the mastermind behind the death of her mother, Helena played by Zsa Zsa Padilla, Emilia indiscriminately fires gun shots at her father -- but not before Julio manages to lodge a bullet in his daughter's spine, paralyzing her.
While Julio appears dead after a three-way confrontation among him, Emilia and Lily (Maja Salvador), he is later shown in a room being intravenously given "Red Dragon Poison." Soon after, the silhouette of a woman is shown -- similar to that of Helena with her signature hairstyle. Julio is in the hands of a mysterious woman played by Karylle. Introducing herself as an adopted daughter of Helena and the rightful successor of the Triad, the vengeful Venus -- much like Lily's hate-filled alter ego Ivy -- decides to exact "justice" with her own hands, and tortures Julio presumably to death. It is revealed that Venus -- named after the carnivorous fly trap plant, rather than the Roman goddess of beauty -- was a former street kid adopted and trained by Helena to become her successor.
However, when Helena learned that her biological daughter, Emilia, was still alive, Venus felt she was made dispensable by the woman she called her mother. Driven by hate and revenge -- not unlike Lily's alter ego, Ivy Aguas -- Venus sought out Julio to "erase his existence." As they first come face to face in the finale, Venus makes certain she accomplishes that goal in the "most painful way."
Earlier in the series, Lily would have been on a parallel path as Venus'. But having lost more dearly to her in her war with the Ardientes, Lily realizes that revenge only risks pulling one to a darker place, rather than being freed from hatred. The once vengeful Ivy Aguas decides that justice, taking its genuine course, is the answer. This pivot in Lily's mind set slowly unfolded in the series, as she backed her husband Diego's bid to become governor of Poblacion Ardiente. His governance would extinguish any abuses started by his ousted predecessor, Julio, and rule of law would be observed. But that plan came to an abrupt end with Diego's assassination.
In the finale, Lily instead ascends to the gubernatorial seat of what is now called Bagong Ardiente. Years later, her supporters are shown campaigning for her as senator, and then as president of the Philippines. While she is not shown winning the election, a news program announces that Lily is well on her way to Malacañang as she continues to top presidential surveys. Lily's political career reflects the shift in her character, from a woman consumed by revenge to one whose vision has widened to include people whom she can serve.
"Hindi ko masasabing walang bahid ang aking pagkatao (I cannot say that my life has no stain at all)," Lily is heard saying in the closing scene. "Ang kagustuhan kong maghiganti ang nagdala sa akin sa pinakamadilim na sulok ng aking kaluluwa. Pero ang pag-ibig sa puso ko ang umahon sa akin para labanan ang sarili kong kadiliman, hindi lang para sa sarili kundi para sa isang buong bayan. Sa huli, hindi paghihiganti, kundi hustisya; hindi lang basta pagpapatawad, kundi katarungan; pero higit sa lahat, pagpapatawad sa sarili.
Hangga't hindi natin pinapatawad ang mga sarili natin, hindi tayo magiging malaya para yakapin ang pinaka-maliwanag na bukas. (In my need of revenge is what brings me to the darkest corner of my soul. But love in my heart emerged me to fight against my own darkness, not just for myself but also for the country. At the end, it is not revenge but justice; it is not only forgiveness but righteousness; but most of all forgiveness to once self. Until we forgive ourselves we can be truly free to embrace a brighter tomorrow.)”
Lily indeed arrives in this bright future, along with her friends and family. Her mother Camia (Sunshine Cruz) weds a reformed Damian (Christian Vasquez), who was pardoned after being incarcerated as "Jaguar." Jepoy (Vin Abernica) and Ana (Yen Santos), Lily's childhood friends, can finally have a peaceful relationship with the Ardientes gone. Natalie (Roxanne Barcelo), meanwhile, becomes Lily's "BFF" and appears to win the heart of Marlon (Miko Raval), now mayor of Bagong Ardiente.
An unexpected new ally is also brought into the fold. Wheelchair-bound and in jail, a desolate Emilia gets a visit from Lily, who has her former rival in tears when she hands her a cake on the occasion of her birthday. She is not forgotten, Lily tells Emilia and she in fact has a friend in her. "Lahat ng tao, Emilia, ay likas na mabuti, lalo na pag binibigyan ng pangalawang pagkakataon, lalo na pag hindi sinusukuan. Hindi pa huli ang lahat. Kaya mo pang magbago, (All people, Emilia are naturally good, especially when they are given second chances, most off all not going to give up on them. It is not yet the end, you can still change" Lily says.
Throughout its year-long run, "Wildflower" followed the journey of Lily through several changes -- from an orphaned child, a vengeful seductress, a gun-toting antihero, to finally a public servant with a newfound purpose. The actress, Salvador, has referred to the role as a highlight of her 15-year career, saying in a recent interview that it will be more "difficult to let go" compared with her past characters. "Hindi ko alam kung paano siya aalisin.
Forever siyang nandoon, (I do not how to let go of her, she will be forever there)" she said at the time. "Iba 'yung ginawa niya sa sarili ko, sa career ko, at sa trabaho ko. (She made a difference to myself, to my career and to my work.)" With "Wildflower's" conclusion, its Primetime Bida time slot will be occupied starting Monday by "The Blood Sisters," which stars Erich Gonzales as three women who share the same face.