This pride month, seasoned filmmaker Jay Altarejos introduces eight colorful and diverse fictional characters in a series that intends to delve into many different issues that modern society encounters.
Karen, Jal, Jay, Rap, CJ, Mela, Mac, and Tads, each individually locked down during the pandemic, will go through individual challenges while still trying to help resolve one another’s predicament.
“It’s LGBT-themed but it’s going to discuss not just the problems that the pink community encounters,” Altarejos told Manila Standard in an online interview.
“Balangaw means rainbow. And just like a rainbow, the series has so many layers that you might realize that it’s already tackling different issues in politics and society,” the filmmaker added.
According to Altarejos, Balangaw centers on the eight characters and how their lives are intertwined because of eventualities and choices they make.
“But as each character goes along traversing his or her own rainbows, they will gather that the only way to move along is staying and surviving together no matter how tough the odds are,” Altarejos said.
Balangaw introduces Karen (Karen Toyoshima), a lesbian actress who has been working steadily for years at ABS-CBN as a noncontract player. Although she has a longtime partner, Rox, she believes that having a child of her own will give her a profound sense of responsibility and purpose.
Artificial insemination is the way to go, and she does not believe in crossing the line of her sexual orientation just for her to be pregnant given all the available options. She is best friend to Jal (Jal Galang), another ABS-CBN bit actor, a bisexual; and Tads (Tadsky Obach), another actor, an asexual.
After depleting her savings to undergo in vitro fertilization, ABS-CBN has been shutdown, and the lockdown due to COVID-19 ensued—Karen is now under great duress for being pregnant without good prospects for the future.
Jal, a struggling bisexual actor who has also recently been affected by the network shutdown, becomes the sperm donor to Karen’s fertilization procedures, and now equally anxious about embracing co-parenting responsibilities with his best friend.
Jay (played by Jay Altarejos himself) is a sociopolitical conscious filmmaker whose recent transition from popular LGBT films to staunchly political protest films has made him a controversial public figure of late. His no-holds-barred opinions made him a target of contention by other filmmakers and producers, greatly affecting his creative pursuits and his ability to earn a viable living.
Rap (Rap Robes) is an up and coming actor presently being groomed to become a leading man in commercial movies. Unbeknownst to the public, he is gay and currently in a relationship with CJ (CJ Barinaga), a dancer and digital content creator from Cebu.
The two met at an acting workshop in Manila months before. Vulnerable and inexperienced, CJ depends on Rap’s “mentorship.”
Mela (Mela Habijan) is a former television personality who has shifted her priorities to trans right activism. She’s also planning her next election campaigns having been the first trans person to run for public office in history. Currently, she is in a relationship with Mac (Mac Mendoza), who is a real estate agent born to a wealthy political family. When the news about his relationship with a trans woman becomes known to his conservative family, he thinks he needs to convince them and Mela, that real love goes beyond label and SOGIE.
Tads is (Tadsky Obach) an actor who identifies as “asexual.” It is always his goal to break the stereotypes and myths about asexual people. He identifies as biromantic asexual. He is not actively attracted to partnered sex, but romantically attracted to both males and females. In the group, he is equally the common source of funny stuff and the go-to-guy when someone needs someone to talk to in confidence.
Balangaw premieres tomorrow, June 27, at 9:00 p.m. on Balangaw Online Channel (www.2076balangaw.com ).