How to Write Nuanced Characters: Why Kadenang Ginto Succeeds Where Many Fail

Updated on August 7, 2019
Vincent Reyes profile image

I am a Political Science graduate, major in International Relations and Foreign Service, with an interest in anime, religion and philosophy

The problem with long-running shows that have week-long runs is that they need to pad five days of 25-minute runtime with high-stakes action or intense melodrama in an attempt to "develop the plot". But what exactly is the plot? Is it a character's growth, as all other shows depict? Or is it the fall of an antagonist that has ruined the lives of our protagonists?

What happens when the protagonist has achieved his/her life goals? What happens when the antagonist that has haunted our heroes for so long is dead? Well, introduce a new, more powerful threat to escalate tensions. Others would create new conflicts between the cast that were not seen in previous seasons.

This leads to yet another problem: what if we face a sudden turn of events that affects a different protagonist? Do we introduce another conflict that causes this character to leave his old life abruptly? How do we make our audience believe that such a change is within his personality or the profile we have of him?

By now, you are imagining which teleserye(s) I am talking about. At this point, we see this pattern happen a lot in our staple watches. Too many plot points either leading nowhere or to an unexpected route that comes up for no reason other than "plot progression".

Teleseryes suffer from their pacing, whether they drag on for too long due to popularity or for such a short time that they barely have enough room to fill in the gaps. The latter leads to unnecessary rushing.

So how does this concern affect shows that still appeal to the public like "Kadenang Ginto", which seems to be doing well and showing some changes to the teleserye formula?

Well, the answer to that might probably surprise you. It doesn't.

Kadenang Ginto's Writing

If we were to summarize the story of Kadenang Ginto, it would be a family's journey to adapting through difficult circumstances created by their tenuous relationships.

They all fall under the Mondragon family but the main players can be easily divided into two sides: the main Mondragon family of Robert and wife Romina with their daughter Cassie and Romina's brother Neil and the Mondragon-Bartolome family of Daniela with husband Carlos and daughter Marga. Now, Daniela is the daughter of Robert and thus the heir to the sardine canning business of the patriarch. Her conflict with her stepmother Romina drives nearly every event in the story.

If the story can be read as a family feud, we see how similar it is to many a teleserye. However, it stays fresh for one reason: because the characters act. What you will see in the series is not simply two women engaged in a catfight while Daddy Mondragon and meek Carlos watch them duke it out. It is a chess game of power between two strong women fighting for their family's right to Robert's fortune. One can say that Romina and Daniela differ in motivation. Romina only wants what is best for her daughter. But the beauty of Filipino teleseryes is that both sides actually have the same motive. Just that they possess different world views over that goal. Daniela seeks wealth but she was used to that wealth all her life. Romina lived with wealth while married to Robert but she only needed it to secure Cassie's future. The same can be said for Marga's mother. The point is that the characters act out different agenda for the same resource. Their activities become the plot and engage viewers in a constantly progressing story to see who wins.

Yet their staying power does not solely reside in the activity of its main players. Arguably, its most promising strength is in the nuance of its characters.

Nuance in Character

Romina. Cassie. Daniela. Marga. Robert. Carlos.

Each of these figures are not your average teleserye figures.

The family dynamic can be best described as the usual dysfunctional big family web. Because of their mother's rivalry, Cassie and Marga are rivals as well. However, Cassie's responses opposed Marga's animosity, often avoiding the expected "sampalans" and only defending herself when necessary. Cassie does possess compassion for the people who hurt her, to the point that she was present in one of Marga's breakdowns, which led to an attempted suicide. This was actually the moment that compelled me to write this review.

Kadenang Ginto is famous for two things: its ability to translate intense scenes into memes and plot twists. So many plot twists. Season 1 delivered on key plot twists that not only worked but helped the show reach three seasons as of 2019.

Romina gave birth to Cassie because she was raped after a company party. This led to a ruined engagement with Carlos and her marriage to her boss, Robert, as well as the resentment of Daniela. We had yet to find the real father until it was revealed to be a former co-worker, Alvin. He works in Maxwell, Cassie's school, as a janitor, to get closer to the girl. Some viewers might find it odd that he does not seem as affectionate or paternal as Robert was. Well, he was an ex-convict and someone the viewers should not trust. Then there was the revelation that Alvin did not in fact impregnate Romina. So if he did not commit the rape, who did? There were too many suspicions flown around.

Then came a certain conversation that opened another valley of twists. Remember the night Romina got drunk and was raped? Yeah, on that night, Robert woke up with a hangover from drinking too much. It may have seemed like a coincidence, until it was proven that Robert, not Alvin, raped Romina. This not only made Robert's future actions more questionable and complex but makes Cassie a contender for Robert's inheritance, something Daniela took to great lengths in hiding. Anyway, Robert dies from an explosion in a helicopter and Romina was framed for his death, only to return to the company and competing with Daniela once again.

In Season 2, we see the plots of Daniela culminate in an attempted car crash that was supposed to kill Romina. Yet an unexpected change occurred. Cassie and Kristoff were inside the car and Cassie was in critical condition. This opens Daniela up to her stepsister and reveals her guilt over what happened and an actual care for Cassie that is never shown in the open. However, the conniving Mondragon-Bartolome uses this to her advantage to claim Cassie's share of the inheritance.

Kadenang Ginto's twists seem to work not only to advance the plot but to better the characters and reveal their layers in such a slow but fulfilling way.


The story now seems easier to look at with how these characters work.

Carlos is moved by his own insecurities about his place in the lives of his family.

Robert is a kind man paying for his secrets.

Daniela was a dutiful but hateful daughter who loved her family, including Cassie, in spite of her own hatred of Romina.

Marga craved for the attention her parents never gave her through social media and Kristoff.

Cassie does not engage in unnecessary conflicts with Marga and does see some good in her.

Romina's resolve is admirable but somewhat out of bounds with conventional morality.

Daniela may be the ruthless kontrabida but her capacity to love makes her more human than expected.

They are not as different as any teleserye cast. They are more human.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)