MANILA — "Sparks Camp" host Mela Habijan spoke up on the criticisms faced by the queer dating show for the supposed lack of diversity among the cast.
Habijan said she intentionally engaged with the critics in order to know their side and listened to them, changing the label of the show from a boys' love (BL) series to a queer dating show.
"Nakipag-usap ako sa ilan sa mga nag-post sa Twitter, to be exact, because on my end I engage in a conversation kasi sa ganoong paraan natututo tayo, napapakinggan natin sila, napapakinggan din nila kami. We keep on discussing it because ang gusto naman talaga natin ay magkaroon tayo ng isang palabas representing us. Kung hindi tayo magko-collaborate, hindi magiging matagumpay 'tong palabas na nagpi-feature ng LGBTQIA+ people," the host said in a media conference.
"Tayo ring lahat 'yung matatalo kaya 'yung conversation na 'yun napakahalaga 'yun. We welcome the comments, we welcome their perspectives and as we welcome it, we learn from them kaya nakikita ko na nag-go-grow and nag-eevolve 'yung 'Sparks Camp' and who knows, we will be seeing different adaptations of 'Sparks Camp' in the future," she added.
"Importante 'yung pakikipag-usap kasi roon natin ilulugar 'yung pagkaka-unawaan natin. We would be able to understand each other if we just sit down, be calm, listen to each other, and understand kung ano 'yung context kung saan tayo nagmumula kasi kung magbabangayan tayo, matutulad tayo sa kahit na ano'ng uri ng kwento."
After the cast reveal, "Sparks Camp" drew criticisms from the LGBT community for having a set of contestants in only one spectrum of the gay community despite claiming to have a diverse cast.
While the cast fit to a certain mold of a cis male, Habijan insisted that the cast is diverse beyond their physical characteristics.
"We will always anchor diversity with different characteristics kaya meron tayong tinatawag na intersectionality, and 'yung intersectionality will always coincide with different facets of a human being, Ito'y physical, social, karakter, kung paano siya nakikipag-interact, educational background, the people na kinalakhan niya. 'Yun 'yung dapat nating makita, hindi lang siya rooted sa physical aspect of a person," Habijan said.
"Diversity will always come from a person where he, she, they come from, how they interact, and how they become people. Para tayong kumikilala ng isang tao. Hindi natin siya kikilalanin based sa itsura niya, kailangan natin siyang makausap, kailangan natin silang makasalamuha, kailangan natin siyang makasama para 'pag nagawa natin 'yun, makikilala natin siya at 'yung judgment manggagaling sa kung paano tayo nakipag-interact sa kanila," she added.
The host stressed that the show has a lot to work on but it is good to see that the public will witness the hardships and good outcomes of dating in one aspect of the LGBT community.
"I got excited because for the very first magkakaroon ng palabas na makikita natin 'yung sarap at hirap ng queer dating. Ang realidad natin talaga sa mundo ng LGBTQIA+, una pinipigilan kang magmahal at dahil may layer na 'yun, ang hirap din mag-search ng pagmamahal kasi doon makikita mo ano 'yung preferences ng mga tao. Ano ba ang hinahanap ng mga tao, ano ang mararamdaman mo, safa ka ba sa mga taong ito," Habijan said.
"It's a mixture of realities and I'm happy that Black Sheep was able to really put their hearts out into mounting 'Sparks Camp' kasi kailangan talaga nating ilabas 'yung realidad ng kilig at pag-ibig ng LGBTQIA+ people. 'Yung iba't ibang uri ng kilig, pag-asa, pagkabigo ng queer dating," she added.
"For the longest time, we tried to fight for our love, and we always say love wins. Hopefully this show will be a mark why our love is beautiful, why our identities are beautiful, why our whole being is beautiful. Through this show, may we really start to let love win."
"Sparks Camp" is a queer dating show featuring 10 contestants hoping to find a relationship at the end of the show. It airs on YouTube every Wednesdays starting May 24.