By Futakuchi “Jasper” Kenji (@kuchikenji_)
June is a month that celebrates pride and the members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is a month that not only celebrates and advocates diversity, equality, and acceptance onto the members of the said community but also sheds light on the issues they have been facing. That is why Alab Tayo, a Pride month celebration, was created by Alab, an HQRP organization to commemorate the years spent by the LGBTQ+ community fighting for equal rights and making an impact worldwide.
On June 27, 2021, Bahaghari, an Alab Radio special, took place as an open mic tribute and became an outlet for artists to showcase their talents in celebrating the month of Pride. Among the many faces of Bahaghari, a group of performers shared their stories in a form of a voice skit entitled “Sa Wakas”, the group consisted of Hinata “Shopao” Shoyo (@shoyoulang), Tsukishima Kei (@tsukkisarus), Miya Atsumu (@1STSUMIYA), Sakusa “Kiyo” Kiyoomi (@kiyoosks), and Akaashi “Jiel” Keiji (@kapelingmo).
Their performance tells the tale of five friends who’ve met up for a gathering in a coffee shop after all these years and reminisced moments they’ve missed until one argument among two members, Mona (played by @kapelingmo) and Jess (played by @tsukkisarus), leads the group downhill onto a twist of revelations and a much bigger problem that tested the heights of their friendship.
With “Sa Wakas”, the group shared in an interview how they came up with their performance, their message to the community, and then revealed their inspirations behind it.
“What was your inspiration in creating this piece?”
Kiyo: “Since about LGBTQIA yung theme ng event, naisip namin na gamitin ‘yung mga boses namin para mag-kwento ng mga story na kapupulutan ng inspiration at aral sa panahon ngayon. Dahil hanggang ngayon, nai-invalidate pa rin yung mga taong part ng LGBTQIA and we want them to understand us. Gusto namin makarating yung message na gusto naming iparating sa bawat isang makikinig nu’ng performance namin at maging aware sila sa mga pinagdaraanan ng mga kabilang sa LGBTQIA.”
Kei: “Nagtulung-tulungan na lang kami gumawa ng piece in a way that it’s relatable to all. Something that could touch their hearts. Something that would make them say “I belong”. And also something that would convince them that it’s okay to be different and eventually stand out. We made a piece that can cater the voice of others when they couldn’t speak for themselves kasi there are still a lot of us that’s afraid of the judgement will be receiving. We want to validate what they are feeling and to assure them that there are also people who feel the same.”
The group shared that they were able to create and prepare for their performance in just a span of a week.
“In plotting the events for your story, what were the things you considered?”
Kiyo: “In plotting the whole story, of course nagbigay kami ng mga ideas. Kumuha kami ng pagbabasehan ng buong story, sa isang movie ‘yon na title ay “Fluid” tapos nung mga unang una medyo nahirapan kami sa paggawa pero habang tumatagal sunod-sunod na ideas namin then pinagsama-sama namin ‘yon then naka-buo kami ng istorya. Medyo binase namin ‘yung characters sa mga operators namin para ma-portray namin ng malinaw ‘yung nais iparating nu’ng character na ‘yon and actually isang linggo lang kami nagprepare para dito so medyo gahol kami sa oras pero it was worth it. Then ayon naisipan namin ng medyo nakakagulat na plot twist.”
“How did you feel about the characters you portrayed in your performance? What can you say about them?”
Kiyo: “For me, Nick is a very introverted person pero kapag komportable na siya sa mga kasama niya, doon na lalabas yung kalokohan niya and stuff and mahilig magobserve ng paligid niya. I like that about them. Ang ayoko lang kay Nick is yung pagiging kulang niya sa confidence and hindi siya pala-sabi ng problema. In the story, Nick was the one who said “Tara na, magpahinga na tayo.” and that means na alam na niya yung nangyari sa kanila pero siya yung nagguide sa buong sitwasyon para matanggap ng mga kaibigan niya lahat. Ang gusto ko lang sabihin kay Nick is sana magkaroon na siya ng confidence na i-voice out yung thoughts niya and ‘wag siyang mag overthink.”
Kei: “Malapit sa akin si Jess most especially sa operator ko. We were given a chance kasi to pick our characters tas as I was browsing, talagang naattract ako sa personality ni Jess kasi hindi sila nagkakalayo ng personality. Jess is somehow ambivert. She has time to mingle with her friends and at the same time reserved din siyang tao. Outspoken kasi si Jess. She’s never afraid to tell what she feels kasi she knows what it felt when she was invalidated and ayaw niyang i-invalidate self niya. Palaban din siya especially sa love niya for Mona. Kinilabutan ako kay Jess dun sa part na “Sa araw-araw na nagbabakasakali sila, araw-araw kong sinasagot na oo, ikaw pa rin. Oo, ikaw lang.” Halata sa character niya sa outgoing pero she cherishes her moments with her former partner nung college kaya hindi niya ito kayang bitawan and sobrang nakakarelate talaga yung operator ko. Kaya pakiramdam ko bawat linyang binato ko nun, saktong-sakto sa akin at sa operator ko.”
Shopao: “Sakin, as lei, ramdam ko siya sagad sa mun. Siguro ano, si kasi yung “mom” of the group nila so parang ang pagportray ko sakanya, siya yung laging nakagabay sakanilang lahat. Also, meron din don sa part na sobrang bigat for me, yung part ng revelation ni Lei na mahal niya si Jace pero hindi niya masabi kasi ang gusto ni Jace si Mona. Pero after that, yung sa ending na when she said “sige magsimula uli tayo sa umpisa.” Doon naramdaman kong ready na siyang mag-let go sa naging past nila and magsimula ulit ng panibago.”
Tsumu: “Habang nirerecord ko yung lines, naawa ako kay Sam. Napakaingay niyan ni sam, mahilig mamwisit saka laging pasimuno sa mga kalokohan. Lagi siyang nakatawa at lagi niyang pinapatawa yung mga kaibigan niya kaso that one time na gusto niyang mag open up, walang gustong makinig. She felt dismissed kaya pinili nalang niyang wag magsalita at kimkimin lahat ng nararamdaman niya. Para na niyang na master yung pagtago ng emosyon and that’s not okay at kahit kailan hindi magiging okay.”
Jiel: “For me, sobrang magkalayo ni Mona sa’kin at pati sa operator ko. Masaya ako ang nag portray kay Mona. She had a relationship with Jess no’ng college sila but tago sa parents ni Mona. Nag-iisa lang siyang anak na babae and she does not want to disappoint mga magulang niya. That’s why pumunta siya kay Jace. Sobrang nasaktan ako sa line na “Mahal kita pero hindi ko alam kung paano kita ipaglalaban, kung paano ko ipaglalaban yung “tayo” at sa kung paano ko ipaglalaban yung sarili ko. “Hahahaha maluha na ‘ko habang binabasa ko ‘yan na line. Once they had cooled down, Mona asked, “Magsimula uli tayo sa una?” And doon ramdam ko na ready na sila mag-let go ang past and magsimula ulit.”
“Where did your passion for acting and the arts come from?”
Kiyo: “Mun is a theater student so ayon, I used the knowledge I know para makatulong gawin ‘yung performance namin. I really, really love performing lalo na kapag ‘yung message na gusto mong iparating ay natatanggap ng audiences.”
Shopao: “For me, first time ko kasi talaga yung mag-va. nainspire ako nung napanood namin yung PETA performance ni Kiyo-mun then naisip namin na why not mag-VA kami.”
Jiel: “Mun is a SPA (Special Program in the Arts) student noong high school siya and kapag merong acting-ngan na nagaganap sa class/school activities, always siya nag p-participate sa gano’n. First time ko mag-VA, marami akong ginagayang voice lines na kahit anong pinapanood kong anime kaya nakakatulog din sa’kin ‘yon.”
Tsumu: “Yung mun ko, hindi umaarte, hindi siya magaling umarte. Siguro nung napanood namin ung kila Kiyo-mun naisipan ko lang na parang gusto ko rin itry kaya ayun.”
Kei: “From my operator’s experience. Makapal kasi mukha niya. When they were in fourth year high school, they tried to join their school’s theater club tas dun nagstart yung burning passion for acting. Gustong-gusto ng operator ko yung iba’t-ibang roles from kasi doon niya nafefeel na parang nararamdaman niya yung experience ng ibang tao. Nung inoffer ni Kiyo na mag-voice acting kami as our entry for Bahaghari, to be honest, natuwa kami. Kasi parang bumalik ulit kami sa isa sa mga first love namin. Nakakataba kasi ng puso ang umacting eh.”
“What is your message to the members of the LGBT community?”
Kei: “It’s okay to be afraid kasi we all have to go through that phase of fear and doubts. But if there’s one thing that I’ve always told myself, it’s this: time never favors those who wait, it favors those who risk. I have nothing against the saying that there will always be perfect timing but I believe that every single day would always be a perfect time to try, to risk, to explore, and to grow. Don’t ever think that you’re not loved because you are. You will always be. There may be people who will try to bring you down, there may be people who will despise you because you stand out, and there may be people who wished that you didn’t try. But nevermind them. They aren’t the ones responsible for writing your story. You are.”
Kiyo: “I just want to say na I’m so proud of all of you! And always choose to be yourself, hindi mo kailangan magpanggap para lang matanggap ng mga nasa paligid mo. Chin up, you are loved, you are valid, and you are important. Love lots!!”
Shopao: “Sobrang proud ako sainyong lahat. I’m proud of who you are and hindi ka man matanggap ng iba, lagi mong tatandaan na marami kaming handa pang tumanggap sa kung sino ka. You are valid. You don’t need validation from other people to be who you are. You are not born to please others. Be proud, mahal ka namin and you are important.”
Jiel: “I’m so proud of all of you. You are valid.”
Tsumu: “Stand tall and be proud of who you are. you are loved and you are valid. laban lang, mga mahal!“
With a burning passion for acting and the arts and a goal to let their message to the LGBTQ community be known, “Sa Wakas” was indeed a performance to remember.