MANILA — “Hello, Stranger,” the hit boys’ love series starring Tony Labrusca and JC Alcantara, concluded Wednesday with the principal characters exchanging “hello’s” for the first time as lovers — and the promise of a film sequel that will explore the fresh relationship.
In the 8th and final episode of the digital series from Black Sheep, Mico (Alcantara) finally gathered the courage to confess his feelings for Xavier (Labrusca), not with the hope of being reciprocated, but with the intention of setting himself free from his heartbreak.
Mico mistakenly assumed that Xavier chose to stay with his girlfriend, Crystal (Gillian Vicencio), casting doubt over what he correctly believed were affectionate gestures from Xavier in the duration of their newfound friendship.
Prior, Xavier already once attempted to admit his feelings to Mico, but the latter’s doubtful reaction — laughing off the confession as a joke — foiled what could have been the start of their relationship.
This time, there was no room for misunderstanding.
Not getting a chance to respond to Mico’s confession in their video call, Xavier enlisted the help of the “Young Padawans” for his own shot at telling the truth. The result: a surprise where Xavier, in person, again sang “Kahit Na Anong Sabihin Ng Iba” to Mico, leaving no doubt it was for him.
Singing along, Mico gave his answer, with both uttering the song’s final line: “Mahal kita.”
While the August 19 episode officially concluded the series, it also serves as a launch pad for the recently announced “Hello, Stranger” film sequel. Unlike the virtual storytelling of the original, the follow-up will be filmed in person, and will reunite the entire cast.
Returning to helm the project is director Petersen Vargas, who had set out to “normalize” gay love stories on screen, specifically presented as romantic comedy, with “Hello, Stranger.”
With cameras set to roll “soon” (according to Alcantara during the “Finale Fancon”), here’s a list of questions we’re anticipating the movie will answer:
1. Will “Kaiseph” become official?
By the end of the series, Kookai (Vivoree Esclito) and Seph (Patrick Quiroz) were no longer just friends — but also not an official couple. “May something,” was how they defined the relationship. How will the new romance change the dynamics of the Young Padawans?
2. Will Xavier be counted as part of the “barkada”?
Since the beginning of the series, Mico has had a tendency to draw a line between supposed “loser nerds” like him and varsity jocks like Xavier. After making a bad first impression on the Young Padawans in Episode 1, Xavier did make an effort to apologize and get to know Mico’s friends, as seen in Episode 4.
3. Will Junjun get his own love story?
No doubt the wisest of the Young Padawans, Junjun (Miguel Almendras) was also the voice of reason that pushed Xavier to finally meet Mico in the final episode. Before anyone else, he had an inkling of Mico’s feelings for Xavier, and predicted, correctly, that “Kaiseph” was a ship that would eventually sail, so to speak. In many ways, Junjun has had his share of love throughout the series, through his empathic relationships with his friends. Will this fifth wheel even need a romantic interest?
4. How did Xavier tell Crystal to stop waiting?
In the penultimate episode, Crystal (Gillian Vicencio) told Xavier she was willing to give him time to figure out who he is — and who he wants — after she realized her boyfriend has developed feelings for Mico. Now that Xavier has made his decision, how will Crystal figure in the sequel’s story?
5. When did Xavier start getting attracted to Mico?
A twist in the finale showed that Xavier and Mico being partners for the school project wasn’t just an academic pairing made by their professor, Tina Moran (Meanne Espinosa), but rather a request from Xavier. Has Xavier long been attracted to Mico, prior to becoming friends through the process of working together for the project?
6. What will cause the characters to gather in person?
Written by Patrick Valencia, “Hello, Stranger” is set during the ongoing pandemic, with the new normal factoring in its story threads, from the virtual classes of Tina Moran, the Young Padawans’ online meetings, to Mico’s colorful PPE when he heads out to buy milk tea. With the confirmation that the sequel will be filmed physically, how will the story gather the characters in person, given its setting?