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‘Gaya sa Pelikula’ director amid Juan Miguel Severo sexual harassment allegations: ‘Hindi pa tapos ang pagbawi ng mga kwento natin’

By CHUCK SMITH Published Jun 28, 2021 2:47 pm

“Hanggang sa muli,” said JP Habac, director of the Filipino Boys Love (BL) show Gaya sa Pelikula, as the fate of the popular online show remains uncertain following sexual harassment allegations involving series creator Juan Miguel Severo.

In a Twitter post on Friday, June 25, Habac said their show Gaya sa Pelikula is important for him as a gay director whose idea of love was shaped by the love stories between straight males and females he had seen in the movies.

Habac is also the director and co-writer of the popular 2017 romantic comedy I’m Drunk, I Love You, about a young woman named Carson who has been in love with his male best friend for over seven years—a story inspired by his own experience of unrequited love.

“Pag tinatanong ako ng mga tao kung sino raw ako sa pelikula kong iyon, walang palya kong sinasagot na ako si Carson—yung babae sa pelikula na nagmahal ng kaibigan for seven years pero hindi minahal pabalik, yung babae sa pelikula na kahit nasaktan na sa pag-amin ay buo pa rin sa dulo. Ako ‘yun,” Habac shared.

“Pero may mga nagtatanong din kung kwento ko nga yun, bakit babae ang napili kong bida, bakit hindi bakla. Napaisip ako, bakit nga ba?” he asked.

The director explained this was because he grew up watching straight love stories. “Kaya naging ako si Carson sa pelikula kasi lumaki akong walang nakikitang lalaking umamin sa kaibigan niyang lalaki na mahal niya ito,” Habac said, adding this changed for him when he did Gaya sa Pelikula.

Gaya sa Pelikula—which had the tagline “It’s time to take our story back”—is about a male architecture student who is forced to live with a gay film student in the same apartment, where they develop feelings for each other. Severo said in an interview last year that he wanted the show to have a cast and crew who are either members of the LGBTQ community or are allies. The idea, he explained, is to allow the LGBTQ community to tell their own stories, because “there are nuances that only we can understand.”

“Ngayong nakuha na natin ang kwentong deserve natin, what’s next?” Habac asked.

He added, “Alam kong maraming mga nangyayari pero sigurado akong magkikita-kita pa tayo dahil hindi pa tapos ang laban. Hindi pa tapos ang pagbawi sa mga kwento natin.”

This statement comes as Globe Studios head Quark Henares, the producer of Gaya sa Pelikula, admitted he is unsure if the show will return for another season amid the sexual harassment allegations Severo is facing.

Last week, Gaya sa Pelikula actor Paolo Pangilinan posted a message on his Twitter account addressed to “harassers.” Pangilinan did not mention any names in his tweet. But fans speculated that the message may have something to do with Gaya sa Pelikula series creator and writer Severo after he deactivated his Twitter account around the same time Pangilinan posted the tweet.

Following Pangilinan’s tweet, Henares said in his own Twitter account that Globe Studios is aware of the allegations and is “looking into it.”

Henares added in a separate Twitter thread that he is proud of their work with Gaya sa Pelikula, but the message of the show “has become endangered” because of recent events.

“I know there is a lingering question, and it’s something I can only answer for myself. I will not work with anyone who uses their power to take advantage of anyone else. In any capacity,” he said, without mentioning any names.

Henares added: “Is our show bigger than one person? Can we really take our story back despite facing the greatest challenge we’ll ever face? I’m honestly not sure. But I know that despite everything, atin pa rin ang kwento.”

The tweet included a photo of the cast and crew of Gaya sa Pelikula, without Severo.

In a clarification to his earlier tweets, Henares said that Pangilinan “wants to keep doing” Gaya sa Pelikula, but understands if the fans and audience “have been traumatized as well.”

He added, “We’ve considered moving on and finding something else to do together. But no matter what, we stand together.”

No camp has clarified what exact incident transpired that led to these statements. Other personalities such as director Antoinette Jadaone, who has a podcast with Severo, have released a statement regarding the allegations as well, without naming Severo.

“I wanted to personally talk to those involved who are close to me, hear both sides, in hopes of having a clearer understanding first before speaking. Sexual harassment is very serious and should not be taken lightly,” she said.

"Tulad n'yo, in shock din ako at nalulungkot sa mga nangyayari. Hindi ko rin alam ang kabuuan ng kwento, but I know that when a victim speaks up, we must listen, and empathize, kahit na o lalo na kung malapit sa atin ang involved."

As for the fate of their podcast, Jadaone said, "Sa mga nagtatanong about the podcast: wait lamang. This is my baby too, and the community we have all built has become a respite for me.

(Banner photo shows Paolo Pangilinan and Ian Pangilinan, stars of online Boys Love series Gaya sa Pelikula. Photo from Instagram/JP Habac; Globe Studios)