Gaya Sa Pelikula Is The Latest In A Fight That’s Far From Over
Gaya Sa Pelikula is more than a BL series
There’s a reason why Gaya Sa Pelikula gained so much traction even before the first episode aired on September 25th: the trend of the BL genre, the production of Globe Studios, the names of Juan Miguel Severo and JP Habac, the chemistry of stars Ian Pangilinan and Paolo Pangilinan—but there’s so much more to understand about the narrative itself. More than the names that make it up, the story of the series itself is such a worthwhile addition to the local entertainment scene.
But without preempting the importance of the series, it’s clear that—yes, even now and especially now—something like this is still important. When a platform like It’s Showtime makes it normal and even tries to draw laughter from stereotyping LGBTQIA+ members (and in front community members, no less), you know that things aren’t going in the direction you want them to.
Not that it should deter us; #PangPangOnItsShowtime was a step backwards. But how the public reacted? How we called them out and publicly showed our support for the community and pointed out where the show went wrong? That—that—is a step in the right direction.
During the presscon held on September 23, the cast and crew kept uttering one line: “It’s time to take back our stories.” You see, on and off screen, Gaya Sa Pelikula is supported, conceptualized, produced and starred in by members of the LGBTQIA+ community. And if that isn’t some solid representation, we don’t know what is.
The series introduces us to Vlad (Ian Pangilinan) and Karl (Paolo Pangilinan), two neighbors who are forced to live together to avoid and/or solve their individual problems. Saying what happens after the two agree to cohabit would be a spoiler—so let’s just say this: lip-locking, arguments, realizations and relatability.
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Creator and writer Juan Miguel Severo tells us that he wants the series to make us kilig and realize that queer characters—and queer stories—are much more than a best friend to the lead or a piece of comedic relief; they’re the main dish. They’re more than libog and sexual tension and something to debate about. They experience everything that everyone else experiences, too. With him, the cast, crew and production team share stories about their past and how they wish they had more courage to be who they wanted to be or to act how they wanted to act. They collectively remember not feeling safe or accepted or whole because there was never really a person they could mirror and aspire to be.
So yes, it is about representation and expanding the traditional understanding of a romantic comedy, but it is also about the normalization of such love story and giving people the proper avenue to tell it. As director JP Habac says, “Sabay-sabay natin bawiin ang kwento nating mga bakla (Together, let’s take back our queer stories).”
In that Zoom call, they pitch in their stories of friends and lovers and family members. Together, they answer our questions and paint the picture of their experiences and try to explain to us why Gaya Sa Pelikula is a narrative of themselves and the people they’ve fought the good fight with. Sitting in the comfort of my own home and hearing their voices crack and watching their faces light up was something. It made me proud to be in attendance.
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The truth is that we (the we who never looked for anything more) might never understand just how much bearing a story like Gaya Sa Pelikula has on a community we will never be part of. We pride ourselves in being supporters and allies and soldiers in the fight for equality, but we will never know their grief and struggles. There’s a melancholic beauty in seeing people finally get the opportunity to have what the rest of us have taken for granted: a part of ourselves onscreen.
After all, many of us grew up on classics like Sixteen Candles, Serendipity and You’ve Got Mail. How many of us stole moves off Love Actually and 10 Things I Hate About You? Think about all the inspiration we’ve taken from them and imagine not being able to fully connect with any of the characters…because they weren’t players in a narrative that looked like your own love story. Imagine believing you were only meant to be the Damien to someone else’s Cady as she battled the Mean Girls, the Oliver to someone else’s Rachel in new world of Crazy Rich Asians.
All of these things, I learned from just the presscon; I know there is so much more to learn. So hey, if anything, let Gaya Sa Pelikula be a teacher to us all—and let the kilig just be icing on the cake (because, hello, have you seen Ian and Pao?)
Gaya Sa Pelikula is viewable on YouTube/GlobeStudios.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver