Love is love. Representation for the LGBTQ+ community in Philippine entertainment has never been better, thanks to another Filipino boys love (BL) series – Turbulence. Starring Kennedy Nakar and Paul Cervantes, the series remained under the direction of Louis Archie Perez. Thankfully, we can finally leave the lack of representation behind in 2020. Living in a Catholic-dominated country, nobody thought that Filipino creators would go hard for the BL (Boys’ Love) genre. The Philippine entertainment serves BL and with Turbulence, we surely serve fast.
The series revolves around a chaotic story of love, compassion, honesty, lies, and intertwined lives of young men. Aside from that, it also includes the secrets hidden in the shadows of eyes too young to lie. It involves a young man on the run, another who questions, a cousin with a secret, an ex-lover who can’t move on, and a brother who longs for an answer. Village Pipol was able to talk to Turbulence stars Kennedy and Paul, as well as Direk Louis on Messenger.
Turbulence represents the chaos that remains present in everything
Turbulence, The Series.
The production started shooting before the government announced the second enhanced community quarantine last March 28. Then, they found out about the ECQ during the last day of filming. At the time, they were traveling back from Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija. Thankfully, they shot the series during a time that restrictions have yet to become even stricter. Since they filmed during the new normal, they made sure to follow protocols that the DOH, NIATF, and the FDCP mandated. They had a locked-in taping and underwent swab tests.
“Turbulence the series, as the writer, for me, represents the chaos that is present in everything. It is the one that is present in all our lives; all our relationships be it with a lover, a family member, a sibling, or even one’s relationship with society. The series is an embodiment of the questions that keep on forming in our minds, those that create and destroy friendships, relationships, and foster misunderstanding because one does not fully understand the other. Turbulence is like that, a state of chaos that can only be resolved or untangled once you get to know the root of where each and every change came from.”
Kennedy as Divan; Paul as Landon
Landon feels relatable, according to Paul. He thinks that Landon feels insecure and would always fear what others would say about him. Then, he learned to consider the feelings of the people around him. Divan also feels relatable, according to Kennedy. He thinks that Divan acts like a machine that he would continue to move forward until he can. Kennedy vows that he won’t give up and will continue fighting for the people he loves.
“Divan is something na kakainisan ng lahat ng viewers. Hindi natin malalaman ang buong kwento niya kung hindi natin susubaybayan ang buong series. Kasi marami tayong hints sa bawa’t kaganapan sa series at isa sa mga ‘yun ang magre-reveal ng katauhan ni Divan.”
Directing the series.
Direk Louis came up with the story of Turbulence when he had an unrelated conversation with Kennedy and Paul back in early October. At the time, they remained with Lakan. Meanwhile, the director remained back home doing what he does for the city as a head contact tracer.
“The story of this real-life couple is very inspiring and they were trying to grow their own channel. Hearing their own personal stories got my mind working, I told them I’ll give them a present. I will write a miniseries that they could shoot themselves for their blog, it’s inspired by their own personal journeys and all three of us got excited. As I was writing the story, more characters came and became alive in my head and what was supposed to be a 4-episode mini-series suddenly became a 10-episode full-blown series with all the works.”
At the time, they were still looking for a director. Until one day, the production encouraged Louis to direct the series. Of course, he felt hesitant. Although he had a background in theater, he feels like film remains such a different medium. Then, he started getting excited.
“One thing you must know, as much as I took a bit of inspiration for their lives in crafting the story, I took a lot of liberties in ensuring that this story is not just any story but one that will make a mark to all the viewers. In fact, I even changed their personalities in the series so that we are not watching Paul and Ken but rather their characters.”
Preparations for the role.
Kennedy sifted through his memories and used those to embody the character of Divan. Aside from reading the script, Paul and Kennedy practiced with their co-actors. Then, they would talk with Direk Louis. That way, they could properly understand the story and execute it the way he thought of. Kennedy and Paul started their YouTube channel last December 2020. They had an idea to create LGBTQ-themed content the same way popular online love team JaMich used to do. It consisted of real-life couple Jam Sebastian and Michelle Liggayu. Unfortunately, Jam passed away in 2015 due to lung cancer which, ultimately, ended the love team. Then, Kennedy shared:
“Nakipagkwentuhan kami kasama si Direk. Until na naging mini-series na. Dapat bahay lang namin i-shoot na ang theme ay homemade series. Pero, dahil nga naging sobrang ganda ng story sobrang nasayangan kami kaya until one day, Direk surprised us with a story na wala pang title. And, dun na nagstart ang Turbulence.”
Paul, on the other hand, said:
“Hindi ko na talaga siya pinag-isipan at tinanggap ko dahil maganda ang story. I am so grateful that this project is really made for us. Kasi, it became another opportunity for us to showcase another life LGBTQ+ that does exist.”
Boys’ Love genre is one of the best platforms to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
Direk Louis expressed how important it is to fight for the LGBTQ+ community, especially the young queer kids that will surely watch Turbulence. He grew up in the 80s when the representation of the community remains minimal.
“I firmly believe that even in the community, we have so much to learn that putting ourselves in boxed and labeled categories can be a problem. The main essence of Turbulence is that love comes in many forms. Some remain hidden behind words too painful to hear and some remain in plain sight waiting to be discovered. Ultimately, Turbulence revolves around a tale of discovery, confusion, rediscovery, and realization that there are things that are worth fighting for and that love, as well as desire, does not recognize gender.”
Meanwhile, Kennedy acknowledges that being a queer in the Philippines feels like a crime. He also pointed out that a lot of Filipino parents plant in their children’s minds that being gay will send them to Hell. (Let me just point out, God does not judge. And, why would you, a mere human, do something that God would not allow?)Even when that’s the case, Kennedy hopes that queer people could free themselves from being trapped.
“Kung may choice lang na wag siguro maraming mga queer ang pipiliin nalang maging straight kaso we have to free ourselves from being trapped and to follow our happiness. Once you’re gay, you’ll gay forever. Kahit buhusan ka pa ng kumukulong mantika, and God knows who’s queer or not, alam na niya yun hindi pa tayo ipinapanganak. Kung mali man ang maging bakla, sana ginawa nalang Niya straight ang lahat ng tao ng wala nasasaktan.”
On the growing popularity of the BL series.
“It might have taken a pandemic and the lockdown for everyone to realize that there is a business in creating stories for the LGBTQIA+ community, but it has become more than that. This is representation, this is an advocacy and this has created a staggering change by slowly normalizing what we feel by telling others that we just feel as they feel.”
“Ang pagpasok ng BL stories dito sa Pilipinas ang isa sa mga pinaka magandang bagay na nangyare sa buong pandemic era natin. Isa lang itong patunay na at least the Filipino people are trying to accept the fact na there’s nothing wrong with this kind of love and we just have to reassess our mind for us to understand clearly the status of being a queer.”
“Sobrang saya at fulfilling. I can recall before na karamihan ng same-sex relationships ay tago. Pero, ngayon, we can show them on TV, digital advertisements, other platforms, and to the world. Sobrang saya talaga ang sarap makita at maramdaman. For me, kasi it serves as equality, especially for us sa community na we really deserved it.”
Message to LGBTQ+ Community and BL fans:
“Love. Listen to your heart and you will understand and realize that there is nothing greater than to love and be loved. But, learn to love yourself first because there will be nothing for you to give and no place for you to receive if you haven’t opened yourself. It’s not a question about a mind over the heart or to listen to your heart over your head, it’s how you empty yourself by accepting and knowing who you are. Love for love’s sake. Love and respect yourself and then you will be loved.”
“Let us be in this together. Let us fight for our rights! This is just a part of what we fight for. Kaya habang nasa atin itong opportunity na ‘to ay alagaan natin at pahalagahan natin. This is the start of the equality we are craving for. We deserve it!”
Then, Direk Louis ended the interview, pointing out that inspiring young queer kids through a BL series remains one of the most challenging things to do. However, the current generation needs as much representation as they can. He also pointed out that growing up queer, especially in this social media era, will be filled with pain. Aside from that, he also noted that the BL series could give them hope – something that most people desperately need right now.
“Pinoy BLs have elevated the genre to be inclusive of the community and become beacons of hope for those still left in the dark. The BL landscape, as the Philippines is slowly forming it has motivated and inspired the young to be themselves and for society to slowly understand that all these are normal and that everyone undergoes the same struggles in relationships, in the confusion of budding love, in the pain of a break-up – these are all the same for all, simply because we are all human; not because we are divided by barriers or boxed in our own self-made labels and categories that we half understand.”
“Representation is the reason why it’s important to produce BL content in this generation. There has been a lot of pain for the young. Cancel culture on social media and everywhere else has been damaging this generation more than it has damaged the past. These contents give others hope, it makes them feel less lonely and like a warm hand reaching out to let them stand on their own, it has guided so many in less than a year and will continue to prosper as long as we, the content producers are just sensitive to deliver timely and resounding messages of acceptance.”
Angela Grace P. Baltan has been writing professionally since 2017. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. Aside from that, she has an affinity for writing anything under the sun. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, the LGBTQIA+ community, and mental health among others.