The story begins with the romance between Amor de Jesus (Eula Valdez) and Eduardo Buenavista (Tonton Gutierrez). Eduardo's mother, Doña Benita (Liza Lorena), opposes the relationship since Amor was a housemaid and because she wanted Eduardo to marry Claudia Zalameda (Jean Garcia) for political reasons. Doña Benita asked Eduardo's older brother, Diego (Jestoni Alarcon), who was also attracted to Amor, to separate them. Upon seeing Diego trying to rape Amor, Eduardo mistook it as them having a relationship, breaking his heart and prompts him to marry Claudia. The now-pregnant Amor was banished from the Buenavista hacienda and she returns to her mother in Manila, who was living at the Payatas dumpsite. She vows revenge on the Buenavista family when she learns that Eduardo has married Claudia.After giving birth to her daughter, María Amor (Kristine Hermosa), Amor and her friend, Lourdes (Amy Austria), survived by working in clubs. Amor caught the eye of a rich American named James Powers, who brings her to the United States. She leaves Maria Amor and her mother, Chayong (Perla Bautista), behind at the dumpsite and sends money to them from time to time. James Powers proves abusive towards Amor, forbidding her from returning home when a landslide hit the dumpsite. Amor, thinking that her mother and daughter had died, and in retaliation for all his abuses towards her, does not get her husband medical help when he suffered a stroke. James Powers dies and Amor inherits his fortune.