“…it's our responsibility to tell this story because our community deserves it”
Adrian Lindayag and Keann Johnson finished filming The Boy Foretold by the Stars a week before lockdown, we learned. An official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival this 2020, Director Dolly Dulu wrote this script 10 years ago based on a very successful play staged by Tanghalang Ateneo, Ang Hangal. It is, ironically, fate that allowed them to premiere the film at the MMFF, as plans to include the film at the CineFilipino Film Festival earlier this year were sabotaged by the pandemic.
The romantic-comedy film revolves around two high school senior boys Dominic (Adrian Lindayag) and Luke (Keann Johnson), who through the help of a fortune-teller find each other at an optional school retreat called Journey with the Lord. We caught up with the actors in an exclusive chat and discovered how beautifully the stars aligned for the two.
Wonder: Do you believe in fate? Tadhana?
Adrian: I do. I believe that everything happens for a reason and everything that’s meant to happen to you will happen—all the pieces will fit. Lahat ng para sa’yo ay para sa’yo (What's for you is meant for you.)
Keann: I completely agree with Adrian. I believe that God put us on a path, and it’s all up to us if we want to follow that path, of course.
W: It’s interesting that you mentioned God. The story touches on divination of different kinds. Do you think faith and fate go hand in hand, that they can coexist?
A: Definitely. Si Dominic, ‘yung character [I play] sa movie, he has faith sa fate. And dun umiikot ‘yung story ni Dominic, ‘yung paniniwala niya sa tadhana na binasa para sa kaniya ng fortune teller, which is played by Iyah Mina—best actress (The story revolves around Dominic and his belief in destiny foretold to him by the fortune teller played by Iyah Mina—best actress.)
Ako kasi personally, as Adrian, I believe in the same things in a way na kailangan ‘yung mga bagay na nangyayari sa’yo (the things happening to you), it’s backed up by something greater or a higher power. You don’t have to be sectarian; you don’t have to be religious about it. What is essential is your understanding that you’re here in this world, you’re put in this universe because you have a purpose—and you have to fulfill that purpose every day. Naniniwala ako dun (I believe in that). I have faith in fate, in that sense.
K: They do go hand in hand. Honestly, I can’t explain it any better than the way Adrian did.
W: Can you relate with your characters—Dominic and Luke? Is there something, a trait, that draws or attracts you to them?
A: Si Dominic kasi, he’s a very ambitious guy. He knows what he wants, he’s very logical. I don’t know if I’m logical, but I’m definitely emotional. Dominic is a perfectionist and I am, too. I do believe in destiny.
Fun fact: Hindi naniniwala si Dominic initially sa mga hula, kasi logical siyang tao (Dominic doesn't believe initially in fortune-telling because he's a logical person.) He’s a straight-A student, he’s an achiever, he’s a student leader. For him, astrology—that’s beyond science na hindi niya pinaniniwalaan (he doesn't believe in). Pero nung nakilala niya si Luke and na-fulfill na ‘yung hula, nagbago na ang ihip ng hangin (But when he met Luke and the prophecy was fulfilled, the winds changed.)
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K: I think the reason why our director chose us din, we have many similarities with our characters. I can definitely say na there was a part of my character that drew me in because there was a point that I could relate to what he was feeling. What drew me talaga to this film, overall, was the story. I was hooked when I was given the whole rundown of the story, and I knew na I just wanted to be part of it.
W: What do you like and appreciate most about each other?
A: I like how he respects me, how he’s a gentleman. Si Keann kasi, he has a deeper meaning kung bakit ginawa niya ‘tong project na ‘to (Keann has a deeper meaning as to why he did this project.) ‘Yun ‘yung na-appreciate ko (That's what I appreciate) about him—and everything about him as a person. He is a dork, and I love that about him. Sobrang open-minded niya, accepting na hindi ako takot na maging komportable around him (He is so open-minded and accepting that I'm not afraid to be comfortable around him.) He’s a straight guy, and we’re partners in the film, we’re a team…Never niya pina-feel sa akin ‘yung awkwardness (He never made me feel that awkwardness.)
K: What I love about Adrian the most is how passionate he is about everything he does. When you meet him in person, everything about him—from his friendship, his family and the way he works. And throughout the time we were working together in this movie, I felt the exact same way. There was no awkwardness; I felt so comfortable with him, getting to know him. Establishing chemistry with him was a piece of cake because he is such a kind, caring person.
Sa totoo lang (the truth is), I love him so much. If ever I was given another chance…if I went back to the past, I would still choose Adrian. I don’t regret ever working with him. Sa totoo lang, I don’t give him enough credit, but siya ‘yung reason I was able to pull off my character din…props to him, I swear to God.
W: The Boy Foretold by the Stars is being lauded as the first Filipino BL film. Do you think we live in a time where Filipinos are more open to the BL genre, or do we still have a long way to go?
A: This is definitely a huge step forward for our community. We’ve been waiting for something like this in a platform like this for a long time. Finally, we’re getting to tell our story to a wider audience through MMFF.
Definitely, ngayon mas accepting na ang mga tao (Definitely, people are more accepting now.) When we started filming this, wala sa isip namin ‘yung BL craze (When we started filming this, we didn't have the BL craze in mind.) Hindi pa naman pumuputok ‘yung 2gether (2gether wasn't a fad.) Wala pa ‘yung Game Boys, Gaya sa Pelikula, Hello Stranger (Game Boys, Gaya sa Pelikula, Hello Stranger weren't around.) Ang nasa isip lang namin kung bakit ginagawa namin ‘to (What was going through our minds as to why we're doing it) [is] it’s our responsibility to tell this story because our community deserves it.
K: I think nowadays, people will easily accept [BL]. People are very open to new things. It’s not like before where people didn’t accept the LGBTQ+ community. People have supported it to the point na we get to have our own Pride month, our population has grown to a huge amount—to the point that we can take over the world.
I think this age is the perfect time to finally let the LGBTQ+ community tell their story. I think that the whole world, I’m confident, will accept it.
W: What do you want people’s takeaway to be after watching the film?
A: After they watch this film, we want them to realize that love is love, that love is meant for everyone, that everyone, regardless of your SOGIE, deserves this kind of love. Love knows no gender; it’s the same love for everyone else.
Everyone’s saying how this story is new and fresh. You will be surprised how familiar the love is between these two boys. Aside from the country—if the Philippines is ready for this kind of story—nagpapasalamat tayo kasi binigyan tayo ng mga producers and ng platform, katulad ng MMFF na ikuwento ang ganitong klaseng storya (we are grateful because we were given producers and a platform like MMFF to tell this kind of story.)
Hindi naman natin pwedeng intayin ang masang Pilipino kung ready [na sila] for this kind of story, dapat inihahain natin ‘to sa kanila (We can't wait for the Filipino masses to be ready for this kind of story, we should be serving it to them.) And we are part of educating and inspiring people, our audiences. Responsibilidad natin ito bilang artists and creatives (It is our responsibility as artists and creatives.)
K: I want people’s takeaway, the way I somewhat learned throughout this movie, what Adrian said na “love knows no gender,” na we need to be more understanding of the LGBTQ+ community. What I’ve learned throughout my whole childhood and until now—love knows no boundaries. No one should tell you who you should and shouldn’t love.
W: Our theme on Wonder for December is “Shake (Some) Things Off.” We’re asking this all month long, what are you leaving behind this 2020?
A: I will be leaving self-doubt this year, tama na ‘yan (that's enough)—more of faith in myself, to what I can do, what I can offer. I think that’s essential sa pag-maximize ng full potential ko. Hopefully, when people watch what I do, they will believe in themselves also.
K: Of course, we got a little bit of the pandemic weight so, of course, I wanna start fixing myself physically and leave all that pandemic food behind. Besides that, same with Adrian, I want to leave behind a little bit of self-doubt, bilang at this point in time, a lot of people believe in us. I want to see that same belief other people see in me to a point that it raises my self-confidence. Besides that, I just want to mend myself to become a better person.
The Boy Foretold by the Stars, starring Adrian Lindayag and Keann Johnson, directed by Dolly Dulu, is an official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival 2020. It's streaming exclusively on UPSTREAM beginning December 25. Reserve your tickets now!
Art Matthew Fetalver