The Philippines has a rich library of gay movies from award-winning filmmakers of yesteryears. Pinoy gay movies participate in prestigious international film festivals. They have won many awards. In comparison, the Pinoy Boys Love (BL) content production is only starting to gain steam among Filipino producers of late.
- Perception and Current Trends in Pinoy BL productions
- Pinoy Boys Love: Essential List
- Pinoy Gay Movies: A few choice cuts
I have seen Pinoy Boys Love shows (2020-present) and it has a different feel and context. Thai BL is sweet and daring. Japanese BL series are conservative and weird. BL series from Taiwan are some of the most sophisticated series. Of late, it’s even way different from the South Koreans (innovative, relatable). Pinoy BL offers a serious tone, with plenty of slice-of-life, and involves familial relationships besides the romantic center core.
Re: Filipino gay movies – that’s a completely different story and will require quite a lot of space. What I feature here are the new/recent releases only.
Perception and Current Trends in Pinoy BL productions
We recently participated in a Zoom meeting with a group of students from a University in the Philippines. The discussion centers on Pinoy Boys Love series and what are the perceptions of BL fans and viewers about Pinoy BL productions and content makers. We argued that:
- Pinoy Boys Love is a relatively new industry in the Philippines, starting only in 2020;
- A series entitled ‘Sakristan’ downgrades LGBTQ+ characters into caricatures and insults the very essence of Pinoy gay characters, portraying them as the laughing stock in scenes. The said series is not recommended for viewing;
- Many Pinoy Boys Love series lack funding. Due to low investment, they come up with poor production values and bad acting;
- The industry is promising and may grow in the next 2-3 years, with appropriate funding, of course;
- There are some select Pinoy BL series that push the LGBTQ+ agenda of equality and tolerance, featuring a positive depiction of gay characters. These series include the below selection;
Pinoy Boys Love: Essential List
Like in the Movies ‘Gaya sa Pelikula Series’ (2020)
What about? Karl (Paolo Pangilinan) needs money to pay his rent, while Vlad (Ian Pangilinan) needs a place to stay. They first meet with hostility, but to escape from their difficult predicament, they need to compromise. That means they must stay close together.
And so? Following the enemy-turned-lover formula, Gaya sa Pelikula succeeds due to its engaging storyline and the lead characters’ dynamics. A foreign viewer observes how effortless Filipino actors speak in a mix of the local dialect (Tagalog) and English. While most Asian actors, particularly the Thais and the Japanese, speak exclusively on their own. There is something fascinating about the exchange of dialogue here! The series explores the deepening relationship of Karl and Ivan, with some pretty amazing twists and turns. Ian Pangilinan – singing the OST and his acting – brought this Pinoy Boys Love series to a higher level.
The Boy Foretold by the Stars (2019)
What about? A hybrid sort of BL coming-of-age and a gay budding romance. The Boy Foretold is all about two senior high school boys. One is gay and proud Dominic (Adrian Lindayag) and the other is hesitant looker Luke (Keann Johnson). Dominic and Luke are “foretold” by the stars to be destined for each other. But that’s according to a fortune teller! Are the stars correct or is this a one-sided boy’s love thing?
And so? Most Pinoy Boys Love features the proud and gay characters on the sideline. In The Boy Foretold, the same gay guy is front and center. Dominic is not a side character – like Green in 2Gether or some other gay personalities. Adrian Lindayag as Dominic speaks his mind and associates himself with the student body. He’s willing to take risks and is damn proud to be the focus of attention. Seeing a young gay individual expressing his thoughts freely is refreshing. It’s a significant departure from BL scenes where we see boys who – reluctantly – admit being into another boy.
What about? An e-gamer Cairo (Elijah Canlas) receives an invite from his rival Gavreel (Kokoy de Santos) for a date. He laughs off the proposal and feigns ‘offense’. Determined to prove his sincerity, Gavreel launches a traditional courtship with modern-day tricks. Is this the start of a romantic relationship or is it game over?
And so? Anyone who was quarantined and watched this Pinoy BL show will look back with a certain amount of nostalgia. Many viewers have become attached to the characters. And it is a collective emotional investment that has reaped its fair share of profits.
Ben X Jim (2020)
What about? Childhood buddies Benjamin (Teejay Marquez) and Jimson (Jerome Ponce) reunite during enhanced quarantine somewhere in a Manila suburb. What used to be a close relationship was slowly brought back to its fun-filled days. As the older versions of the boys acknowledge what they mean to each other. Will memories be enough to upgrade a close friendship into something deeper?
And so? The series’ production company (Regal) operates mostly in the exploration of familial relationships. In Ben X Jim, the complex family dynamics serve as a backdrop for both men’s behavior. While it’s an interesting premise, the show failed to sustain its initial momentum and ultimately succumb to predictability. It could have been such a fantastic show, with Jerome Ponce giving plenty of Pinoy Boys Love vibes!
Boys’ Lockdown (2020)
What about? Certain circumstances put Chen and Key into each other’s romantic orbit. Yet, there is always something that prevented both from pursuing each. But as they say, love always finds a way. In this case, pandemic restrictions could only go so far. Ultimately, both boys wanted more than just stealing glances and chance meetings.
And so? Among the 5 titles on this Pinoy Boys Love list, Boys’ Lockdown has the most ‘boys love’ vibes. The Series attempts to jab at certain socio-political issues. Yet, the main romantic core puts the series into the familiar BL territory of Thailand and South Korea. Ultimately, all BL boils down to that elusive but inevitable kiss that could happen anywhere in its run. Alec and Ali showcase one of the best BL kisses among Pinoy BLs.
Pinoy Gay Movies: A few choice cuts
2 Cool 2 Be Forgotten is a light drama. The 3 Pinoy movies below [Fuccbois, The Masseur, and He Who Is Without Sin] is quite graphic, and disturbing. That’s why gay movies are so different from BL in the Philippines. Our cover photo is from another gay film The Dance of Two Left Feet. This title is lighter than the 3 mentioned films.
These titles are quite different from Pinoy Boys Love series above.
Fuccbois tackles male revue dancers (Royce Cabrera and Kokoy de Santos). They go out with clients for sex to make a living. The film is provocative, suspenseful, and memorable. Fuccbois is based on real events about a gay public executive. He almost got killed as a result of his sexual liaisons.
The Masseur (2005)
This film showcases the struggles of male masseurs who work in dilapidated, semi-rundown buildings. It begs the question: How far are you willing to make sacrifices for your family? It features one of Pinoy TV’s biggest stars (Coco Martin) before he became a household name in the Philippines
2 Cool 2 Be Forgotten (2016)
This coming-of-age Pinoy gay film depicts 3 young boys. The sexual attraction of one brought disruption to otherwise calm and easy-going dynamics. It stars the trio of Khalil Ramos, Jameson Blake, and Ethan Salvador.
He Who is Without Sin (2020)
The award-winning film is a psychological-suspense thriller bordering on sexual exploitation, mania, and self-glorification. Again, another provocative film with homosexual teasing, and mind-fuck. It stars Enzo Pineda as a manipulative broadcaster and Elijah Canlas as an impressionable student.
The Dance of Two Left Feet (2011)
Ang Pagsayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa involves two young students (Enzo Pineda and Paolo Avelino). Both young men got into dancing as a result of a teacher inviting them to join a project. What started out as a ‘fleeting’ friendship turned serious when one of the boys started having romantic thoughts.
There are two Pinoy gay films on GagaOOLala that are worth watching: 4 Days and Born Beautiful.
This Pinoy Boys Love hitlist is updated on 26th October 2022, there are 5 new series up for review, and may be considered as part of the recommended list. Stay tuned!
Our rating is on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best. The criteria are based on (1) entertainment and re-watchable value, (2) story, and (3) acting & character delineation. Finally, (4) directing & technicalities (editing, music, cinematography, costume design, OST).
An old-timer BL fan way back in 2007. I started out loving BL after watching the Takumi-kun series from Japan, went on collecting BL manga, and watched old BL anime such as Junjou Romantica and the likes. Love of Siam allow me to transition into Thai, while Amphetamine gave me glimpses of Taiwanese BL magic. I love to write reviews and I’m one of the administrators of Psycho Weird.