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Ken Chan sets off talks about mental disability

The Kapuso network seems to be gripped with a passion to explore the dramatic possibilities of characters not usually played in traditional soap operas. Take the case of Onanay! that features a “little actor” in the title role, little because Jo Berry is literally smaller than most of the adult actors and only as big as the children in the soap opera.

On Sept. 3, the network piloted another series on its afternoon block, also about a young man with Mild Intellectual Disability with Mild Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Ken Chan sets off talks about mental disability
Ken Chan as Boyet, a man with a mild intellectual disability with mild Autism Spectrum Disorder
Called My Special Tatay, (by now you know why it’s titled that) who sires a prostitute a child accidentally, yet because of his helplessness in understanding and processing the circumstances surrounding the accident, he readily and happily accepts his future role as a father.

Ken Chan is the network’s logical choice in playing this highly demanding (physically) role after he displayed his acting pliability as a transvestite in the previous Kapuso soap Destiny Rose.

In this one, he is Boyet, born with the disability and yet tries his best to be a productive member of his family and the society his family is in. Ken feels grateful to GMA 7 for entrusting him this extraordinary project and promised to work hard.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa GMA dahil ipinagkatiwala sa akin ang proyektong ito. Mas doble ang kaba ko for this show dahil kailangan nating ipaintindi sa viewers kung ano ba talaga ang pinagdaraanan ng mga taong may intellectual disability,” said Ken.

Watching Ken play his role in this soap brings back my mind to Sean Penn and his character Sam Dawson who has the mental capacity of seven-year-old; who has a daughter with a homeless woman that abandoned her. He names her Lucy Diamond (after The Beatles song) because he is obsessed with The Beatles. But the authorities take her away from him, so Sam fights for custody.

Also it calls to mind another show featuring an autistic doctor whose brilliance in medicine compels fellow doctors to make him stay in the hospital where he has been admitted as a resident. 

In The Good Doctor, the series shows how supposedly normal practitioners of the medical profession initially are wary if the autistic medical resident (Freddie Highmore) could function well as would normal doctors.

No, I am not going to compare Ken Chan with either Sean Penn or Freddie Highmore because in Ken’s universe (the series) he is surrounded by a variety of characters that define the character he plays.

Aside from acting workshops, the actor together with the production and creative teams of the soap underwent immersion to experience and understand better the condition of people with mild intellectual disability with mild autism spectrum disorder.

In the episodes that I’ve monitored, Ken Chan paints a composite portrait of young men with that kind of disability in the Philippines. He is effective and elicits empathy from the audience. He seems at home playing Boyet, mild mannered and unaffected by the people that disgrace him.

Also playing significant roles are Jestoni Alarcon as Edgar Villaroman, the rich father of Boyet; Teresa Loyzaga as Olivia Salcedo-Villaroman, the domineering wife of Edgar; Carmen Soriano as Soledad Villaroman, the conservative yet empowered mother of Edgar and grandmother of Boyet; Lilet as Isay, the caring mother of Boyet; Candy Pangilinan as Chona Mariano, the cousin of Isay.

I am glad Lilet has returned to TV and playing Isay is a fitting welcome for her. She is a perfect counterpoint to the brash character played by Candy Pangilinan. 

Also featuring in special guest roles are Matt Evans as young Edgar; Empress Schuck as young Isay; Valeen Montenegro as young Olivia; and Ashley Rivera as young Chona.

Despite his limitations and the judgment of the people around him, Boyet, lovingly raised by his single mother Isay (Lilet), grew up as a kind-hearted man with a positive outlook in life.

* * * *

Who will be GMA Network’s The Clash winner?

Last Sunday, six competitors moved to the final six of The Clash after each of them performed songs for The Clash panel of judges—singers Lani Misalucha and Christian Bautista and comedian AiAi de las Alas—chose them from among the batch of singers left in the competition.

Those that were allowed to go back and take their seats were Anthony Rosaldo (Valenzuela City), Garret Bolden (Olongapo City), Golden Cañedo (Cebu), Jong Madaliday (North Cotabato), and Mirriam Manalo (Pampanga).

This Saturday, the six will be reduced to five singers that will proceed to the finals.

Watching the show every weekend I notice how the members of the panel passed judgment on the performances of the singers. And all three of them seem to agree they’d choose the singer that can hit the highest and lowest of notes. Technically, that’s correct. But pop music is not all about high and low notes. Haven’t they heard of the Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto, and contralto but had had a number of hit records, and the French chanteuse Claudine Longet whose husky voice has seduced millions of listeners across the globe, not to mention the singer Andy Williams who became her husband?

Or maybe they should watch episodes of The X Factor (US or UK), The Voice, or even American Idol. The judges of those do not put a limit to the song format or genre as you’d like to call it, but allows singers to explore the range of music they deem fit for their voice.

Some netizens are suggesting for the finals, the show could either add a member or two to the current three to make sure the judging is fair and that those the current members have already marked as their possible winners may be neutralized by a new member or two.

Or, the show could have added a feature in which the audience can choose their winners and the score could be added to the scores of the judges. Whatever, the network does in the finals, the audience is the final judges of the winners as they will consume the records and shows of the winners.

Topics: Onanay , Mild Intellectual Disability with Mild Autism Spectrum Disorder , My Special Tatay , The Clas
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