MANILA — Actor and spoken word artist Juan Miguel Severo’s “Gaya Sa Pelikula’ has set the bar high for the boys’ love (BL) genre, which is enjoying a boom in the Philippines this year.
The recently concluded PH BL series follows the story of Karl Almasen (Paolo Pangilinan), an architecture student who wants to shift to film, who stays in one household with Vlad Austria (Ian Pangilinan), a film major running away from his family.
The digital series, directed by JP Habac, revolves around issues of the LGBT community in the Philippines and how those around them like Vlad’s sister Judit Austria (Adrienne Vergara), Karl's uncle Santi Almasen (Franco Ramos), and even friends like Anna (Yesh Burce), also struggle with them.
Being gay is not an insult
In the series, Vlad is a symbol of strength and a voice of reason for the queer community, as he is not afraid of being gay. He is consistent in reminding the audience that being part of the LGBT community should not be a hindrance to one's identity
His story with his former love interest “A” is also a testament that same-sex relationships are as valid as heterosexual relationships.
Also, his relationship with Karl shows the uneven development within the community, and serves as a reminder to always help each other out.
Meanwhile, Karl represents those who are still in the process of identifying themselves or have yet to come out of the closet.
At one point, he opened the discussion on social media on how people should be welcoming and accepting even to people who are still finding out about themselves.
He also shows that coming out is also a process of accepting one's self and a struggle for one's family, relatives and even peers.
Aside from that, his passion for film is a testimony that people should follow their dreams.
Just ally things
Being queer may be difficult but knowing that one has family member like Tito Santi eases the pain. Karl is comfortable with his uncle and it is a relief for him to have someone who can identify with his problems.
Santi also reminds the audience how difficult it was to be queer during his time.
On the other hand, Ate Judit might have her flaws as an LGBT ally but she chooses to learn from her mistakes and correct them.
Then there is Anna, a single mother and a friend who is understanding and open. She was there with Karl and Vlad through their ups and downs and her words of wisdom gives them hope that there are people like her who can accept them for who they are.
Who is the real villain?
Throughout the series, "Gaya sa Pelikula" sparks discussion on various issues such as being feminine, microaggressions and even struggles of workers in the art industry.
But more importantly, the series teaches viewers not to point fingers and instead unite and help each other.
As the ending frame of the series said: “Mapagpalayang pag-ibig at pantay-pantay na karapatan para sa ating lahat. Nasa labas ang totoong laban, sasalubungin ka namin 'pag handa ka na. Hanggang sa muli.”
(We deserve love that is free and equal rights. The real battle is outside, we will see you there when you’re ready. Till next time.)
All episodes of "Gaya Sa Pelikula" are available on Globe Studios’ YouTube page.