The creepy, disturbing, silly, scary faces of Baron Geisler, Gina Pareño, Chad Kinis, Donnalyn Bartolome, Candy Pangilinan and Yumi Lacsamana on the poster of the movie Tililing paint a representation of people with mental health problems—or so the makers of the upcoming movie say. People with “tililing,” or mental disorder, stick out their tongue or make twisted facial expressions while rolling their eyeballs.
The poster is problematic, says the Anxiety and Depression Support Philippines (ADSP), a mental health support group, which released their own version of the poster featuring relaxed, even smiling faces, to send their message: “Hindi lahat ng problema ay nakikita. Yung iba diyan, nakatawa, masaya, pero meron ding problema.”
The support group is concerned about the stereotype the movie poster, well, fosters, the social conditioning it will create, and its impact to the mental health community.
“Di lahat ng makakakita ng original poster ay magbabasa, mag-iimbestiga o manunuod [ng pelikula]. Maaaring tumatak yang impresyon na yan sa utak nila ng matagal o habambuhay,” the ADSP said in an open letter published online. They also pointed out that outdated word “tililing,” which patients, mental health professionals, and even government personnel have come to avoid using. Most likely because it seems to make the issue of mental health sound like a laughing matter. Or because it reinforces our age-old thinking that we must steer clear of people with mental health issues.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Psychiatric Association released a statement about the issue, pointing out RA 11036 or the Mental Health Act, which states that “Mental health should be valued, promoted, and protected. Individuals with lived experience (mental health conditions) have a right to freedom from stigmatization.”
The PPA says that while artists have the freedom of expression, this also comes with a responsibility. “All other forms of media may be strong allies in raising mental health awareness.”
The group underscores its advocacy "for sensitivity in reference, discussion and advertisement of the issue of mental health and a balanced, fair, and appropriate perspective of mental illness” and commends forms of media that are championing the rights and the welfare of the mentally ill.
ADSP points out that people who are experiencing mental health issues don’t even manifest overt symptoms in some cases. “Yung ibang may pinagdadaanan, sila pa yung nakatawa. Sila yung pinakamasaya sa barkada, ang breadwinner ng pamilya, ang boss ng kumpanya, ang pinakamagaling sa eskwela.” Mental health problems wear many faces, they say—“merong mukhang masaya, highly functional, productive pero sa loob loob, may kadiliman.”
The movie is helmed by Darryl Yap, who sparked controversies with the Boy Love series “Sakristan,” said to have offended the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), and his viral short film “Jowable” which eventually became a full-length feature.
ADSP appeals to Yap to help break the stigma on mental health by correcting their poster. “Art is subjective and marketing is king pero if may matatapakan, para saan?”