While it’s greatly apparent that the exciting proliferations of gay-themed stories on digital screens, via boys love (BL) series, have renewed our burning interests on LGBTQIA issues and experiences – we may have to analyze how things have been since its original inception, at least in the dawning periods of digital cinema in the Philippines.
Cris Pablo’s Duda/Doubt, for the record, was the first longform narrative feature in digital format – which happened to be an interweaving tale of gay sex, love, and relationships – quite in extent made it all seem possible for all independent filmmakers to literally shoot the stars and achieve a sense of goal and aspirations that filmmaking can be democratized beyond the dictums of the old and mainstream studio system. While Pablo’s Duda interestingly seeded the cloud and rained profusely over a period of at least 7 years with the explosion of gay soft core Indies – they weren’t exactly focused on the experience of young love and coming of age. They were, in all straight-talk, a spa and splash of sex parades – which in turn became a hotbed of welcomed nudity and other unapologetic physicality on screen. Duda/Doubt was no BL. The first true-gay feature in Asia, South Korea’s Road Movie (2002) is about the experiences and confusions brought upon by the Asian Market Crash, and indeed was no BL. The harangue of criticisms later on to Pablo’s prolific churn-outs, although featuring younger characters, was more directed towards the lower-class experiences; and somewhat the highlighted centering on psychosexual fixations. When Senedy Que’s Dose tested the censorship to its core a few years later– it had a chilling effect on which particular age-group to sidestep, if the trend had to remain and survive. Even the unsolicited fetishism on visual soldering features becomes tamed and oblique. It had officially folded up as the film industry was entirely eaten up once and again by the commercial escapism of the mainstream market.