The showing of two distinct Filipino made Boys Love series had me wondering if they are patterned after a certain country’s perspective or style. However, both Gameboys and Sakristan are original Filipino series about boys falling for other boys. Whether gender has anything to do with it remains to be seen. Even after their premiere episodes, BL viewers have been asking questions.

– Edited by TheFNGee

What is Pinoy Boys Love? Is this the latest thing in BL? Which sector of the society does it represent? Will these series and other upcoming series like My Extraordinary, Where We Were, My Day: The Series, The Boy Foretold by the Stars, Oh, Mando, and many others represent an evolving genre where BL theme of boy falling in love with another boy is from gays’ perspective?

What is Yaoi or Boys Love?

  • Yaoi is a Japanese term for manga that features the sexual romance between men, specifically as created by and for women. In the West, yaoi is used more generally to refer to any anime, manga, fan fiction, that focuses on a romance between men. [Dictionary.com]
  • Many people (mostly fangirls) get the term Yaoi, mixed up with the term shounen-ai though the two may be closely related being that they both show relationships between male characters, there is a difference. One depicts explicit content. Yaoi is used to describe titles that contain sex scenes and other sexually explicit themes. Shounen-ai is used to describe titles that focus more on romance and do not include explicit sexual content. [The Urban Dictionary]
  • Yaoi (/ˈjaʊi/; Japanese: やおい [ja.o.i]), also known as boys’ love (ボーイズ ラブ, bōizu rabu) or BL (ビーエル, bīeru), is a genre of fictional media originating in Japan that features homoerotic and romantic relationships between male characters. It is typically created by women for women and is distinct from homoerotic media marketed to gay and bisexual male audiences, such as bara, but it can also attract male readers and male creators can also produce it. It spans a wide range of media, including manga, anime, drama DVDs, novels, games, and fan production. Boys’ Love and its abbreviation BL are the generic terms for this kind of media in Japan and have, in recent years, become more commonly used in English as well. However, yaoi remains more generally prevalent in English. [The Wiki]

It is important to make the distinction that Yaoi or BL contains intimacy between men (as in sexual relationships). There is, however, some deviation to this ‘norm’ as it appears romantic scenes can be enough to be labeled as BL. However, it remains important to distinguish BL from Bromance, which is defined, as a close relationship between men but not in a sexual/romantic way.

Bromance is non-sexual, there may be a kiss but the affection is more “brotherly” rather than a full-blown love affair. BL (Boys Love or Yaoi) is a relationship between 2 men from a female perspective, can be sexual or brotherly. Gay showcases the relationship between men and can have a more serious tone amongst the three – while not totally encompassing. [Read our previous article on the distinction]


Gameboys: Adapting to The Times

Jen Mauricio, Gameboys’ line producer said:

When Metro Manila was quarantined because of the ongoing pandemic, the creative minds behind The IdeaFirst Company continued to meet through online meetings and the initial concept of creating a series that featured a boy-loves-boy story was born. |read more|

  • Direk Ivan Andrew Payawal said that it was the popularity of the Thai BL series 2Gether The Series from GMMtv that got him interested in Boys Love. Having been introduced to him by the writer of Gameboys, Ash Malanum, Direk is not sure if their series is actually pioneering in the country, stating that other coming of age stories of LGBTQ+ characters have been done in the past, it is just now that there is a labeled niche in which most of these are categorized.
  • Kokoy De Santos and Elijah Canlas have been cast in previous projects, thus they know each other quite well. Canlas is the star of Jun Lana’s Kalel 15, a movie that participated in the international film festival circuit. Lana, is, of course, the man behind IdeaFirst Company.
  • Gameboys: The Series is currently showing at IdeaFirst YouTube Channel.

The Case of Sakristan

Last month, the director and main cast of Sakristan held a press conference. They invited the press and certain bloggers who cater to publishing BL content. Being a participant, I had an opportunity to ask some questions.

Sakristan director Darryl Yap – who can only be described as a maverick, highly opinionated, and confident of his work – was honest and forthcoming. He mentioned watching a few BL series (2Gether, TharnType, and SOTUS). Instead of watching them toward their conclusions, he’d only seen a few episodes because he already had a concept in his mind, and he wants nothing of external influences for his series.

  • Sakristan is all about an altar boy named Christian (John Henry Villanueva) in pursuit of his own happiness and he finds it in Zach (Clifford Pusing). While religion may be an underlying theme, the focus is on the relationship between the two young men
  • Yap consulted certain religious people who assisted him and advise him on the way altar boys work and serve in the church. While there have been some “noise” regarding Sakristan in exploring faith and religion, he gets input from members of the clergy who advised him on issues most laymen are not aware of
  • He is ready for any backlash like he has been since the time he started making films. Dir. Yap insists that Sakristan is more than BL, but a love story of two individuals of the same gender.
  • Sakristan is currently showing on Vincentiment’s YouTube Channel

Xion Lim’s Concept of BL

As a third-generation artist from his family, Xion Lim has a rather world-view of Boys Love. As his production team prepares for the initial episode of My Day: The Series, he intimated that viewers of the series will get Korean, Chinese, and Filipino vibes. He is aware that BL viewers want more than just a high-school fantasy-romantic story and his series opts for more mature characters.

  • My Day is all about an arrogant business executive named Ice (Inaki Torres) who manages a multi-billion dollar food company, he encounters a rather naïve, yet passionate pastry intern named Sky (Miko Gallardo) who applies for a slot in one of the company’s internship programs.
  • Lim personally handpicked Miko Gallardo to play the intern and asked Torres for certain materials as he considers him for the executive role. At the very start, dir. Xion has been quite conscious of the need for “chemistry”, so he asked both actors to interact and internalized their characters long before the initial episode was shot.
  • Doing a BL series is a project that meets the requirements of the times, so he knows exactly how long each episode will last and that he’s also completely aware of both trends and clichés.
  • My Day: The Series will be made available via Oxin Films YouTube channel.

Petersen Vargas and His Pursuit of the Pinoy BL in Hello, Stranger!

Hello Stranger is a digital BL series that stars Tony Labrusca, JC Alcantara, and Vivoree Esclito with a host of other up and coming young actors from the roster of talents that the ABS-CBN family manages including singer/actor, Patrick Quiroz, enigmatic beauty, Gillian Vicencio and social media influencer/actor, Migs Almendras.

| read more |

Award-winning filmmaker Petersen Vargas gave us the coming-of-age film 2 Cool 2 Be 4 Gotten 3 years ago. He was also the co-creator of Hanging Out, with Patrick Valencia. Regarded as a pioneer in Pinoy BL, even when the term is not yet fully subscribed to or accepted by BL viewers. Rappler was quick to point out that calling Hanging Out as a “BL series” is wrong:

. . . Hanging Out, the Filipino gay web series that released 6 episodes in December 2016, and has left its most dedicated fans wanting for more over 3 years later. Like 2gether: The Series, Hanging Out sent viewers screaming every time some sort of tension is teased between the romantic leads, Adrian and David. But just to be clear: Hanging Out is not a BL show. |source|

On Hanging Out, CNN Philippines did a piece and quoted Vargas as saying:

From the start, I knew it was going to get some pretty negative stuff,” shares Vargas, the show’s director. “When [Jade Castro] did ‘Zombadings,’ a few gay groups called it anti-gay and I knew those weren’t the intentions of the film. Now we’re doing a gay show; it’s a way to promote advocacy and people would dismiss that. I expected that. |source|


Kristian Kabigting’s My Extraordinary and GMM-tv connection

As CEO of Asterisk Entertainment, Kabigting eagerly watched several Thai BL series out of curiosity. Now, his company has 3 different BL series in various states of production.

Talking about one of his BL shows – My Extraordinary – he said:

My Extraordinary is totally different from the usual television series we’re used to seeing. You won’t see any violence, mistresses, or families fighting over wealth, action dramas with guns, or wars here. We are done with that kind of storyline, and I believe it’s time to offer something new on the table. This time we will be focused on the character’s needs and characters’ emotions. Normally, a BL series runs purely on the actors’ chemistry and physical attributes like “2Gether The Series”. There are usually no backstories at all, no character references. It’s more about the physical attributes and needs of the characters. But people love it and still enjoy watching it, and because I think that’s the trend right now. |read more|

  • My Extraordinary is about a love story between two people which revolves around past events of every character and the “lies” beneath the story that play an important element in the series. Enzo Santiago will play the role of “Ken”, a Forensic Science student, and Darwin Yu will portray “Shake”, a Law student.
  • Kabigting personally handpicked Darwin Yu and Enzo Santiago to play the lead roles.
  • Actors under his management and those who qualified during auditions sponsored by Asterisk will be trained in Thailand to follow the GMM-tv BL concept
  • My Extraordinary is to air via TV5 and also at the Asterisk Digital TV YouTube channel.

Gab Torres’ Where We Were

JACEtv teams up with independent filmmaker Gab Torres for Where We Were. It stars Wex Andre, and is about two Theater students who realized that they were meant to be more than just best friends. In our exclusive interview, Torres said:

Here in our country, the mainstream media is very conservative and sensitive to themes such as Boys Love (BL). It will either spark a controversy or will enrage the ever-critical viewers. I believe it is more than just censorship. Instead, it reveals so much about our culture of only tolerance rather than acceptance. Conceptualizing for the story, I told myself I wanted to offer something that passes more than just the socio-political conflicts. Creating a series with this theme is already a protest in itself if we are going to talk about it at that standpoint, so I wanted to present something different, maybe something introspective—someplace where the characters are not constantly fighting for their rights to love freely. I thought, what if in this (fictitious) world, the only people who cannot accept them are themselves?


The List of Pinoy BL Series (So Far)

  • Oh, Mando
  • Boys Lockdown
  • “Gaya sa Pelikula” Just Like In The Movies
  • Dream Boy: The Series
  • Taguan “Hiding”
  • Where We Were
  • Forever With You
  • Boys Next Door
  • BTween Us
  • U and I: The Series
  • The Boy Foretold By The Stars (full-length film)
  • He Who Is Without Sin (full-length film)

The list above will be updated as soon as we receive more information.

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