MANILA, Philippines – The casting of the upcoming ABS-CBN fantasy series Bagani has drawn flak from online followers, for including actors of foreign descent in a show inspired by pre-colonial Philippines. (WATCH: New heroes are set to rise in ‘Bagani’)
The show stars Liza Soberano, whose mother is American, and Enrique Gil, who is of German and Spanish descent. It also co-stars Sofia Andres, Makisig Morales, and Matteo Guidicelli, whose father is Italian.
As Soberano and Gil’s follow-up project as a love team after their show, Dolce Amore, Bagani has excited many LizQuen fans – but many also decried the decision to cast actors with Eurocentric features in a show that depicts a culture inspired by pre-colonial Philippine mythology.
Without mentioning Bagani, actress Chai Fonacier tweeted, “Don’t brown face to serve majority of a population that are naturally brown skinned. To condescend on your own kind this way and scream [Pinoy Pride] in your station IDs AND call them ‘family’ is blatantly stupid and insulting.”
Don't brown face to serve majority of a population that are naturally brown skinned.— Chai Fonacier (@rrrabidcat) February 10, 2018
To condescend on your own kind this way and scream PiNoy PriDE in your station IDs AND call them "family" is blatantly stupid and insulting.
Fonacier is apparently referring to ABS-CBN, whose tagline “kapamilya” means family.
In a thread about the issue, Twitter user @NotdahelMarcel said “Fine, siguro hindi na natin matatakasan ang Eurocentric hegemony (Fine, maybe we can’t escape Eurocentric hegemony). Hooray tisoys and tisays. But can we at least give brown-skinned Pinoys roles that are written for them? Bakit naman kasi pati yung mga yun, ibibigay pa sa halfies (How come even those roles are given to halfies)?”
: Hey, guys! Welcome to my channel! For this week's makeup tutorial, I'm gonna teach you how to look like a Bagani character. For this, we're gonna need a lot of bronzer and self-tanner. If you like this video, click subscribe!— PERCY THE DAGANG COSTA (@NotdahelMarcel) February 18, 2018
In a now-viral post on Facebook, user Paolo Cruz shared a screencap of a tweet that compared Bagani to Black Panther, which has been lauded by critics for its celebration of African culture.
“Movies like [Black Panther] pay homage to African culture by innovating without sacrificing authenticity,” the tweet read. “While shows like [Bagani] slather half-white Asians in bronzer to pass them off as precolonial Filipinos because [kayumanggi] doesn’t sell.”
He also called-out white-centric beauty standards in the country, and said that Bagani would have been a chance to empower Filipinos and celebrate Filipino beauty.
“Through the influence of mass media nagkaroon ng standard beauty ang masang Pinoy. Pag maputi, maganda, gwapo, no doubt pasok na sa panlasa, leaving the Filipinos [of] color … a laughing stock in the society,” he said.
(Through the influence of mass media, the Filipino masses had a standard of beauty where when you’re fair-skinned, you’re beautiful, handsome, no doubt preferred, leaving the Filipinos of color a laughing stock in society)
“So Bagani and other cultural na palabas (cultural shows) is a chance for us to show and empower Filipinos. To show authenticity, influence… especially the young minds, that no matter how dark your skin is, you are beautiful,” he said.
Soberano weighed in on the issue herself on Twitter, asserting her own Filipino identity.
Responding to a now-deleted tweet by user @deeCrz that said she and Gil are not Pinoy, Soberano said “And who say’s [we’re] not pinoy? My Father is full Filipino. I was raised by two Filipinos since the age of 4.”
And who says were not pinoy? My Father is full filipino. I was raised by two filipinos since the age of 4. I looooove sinigang i think thats as pinoy as pinoy can get.— Liza Soberano (@lizasoberano) February 16, 2018
She also expressed her love for sinigang, saying “I think that’s as pinoy as pinoy can get.”
While some people replied to her tweet saying she missed the point of the debate, others defended the actress.
@RonaCelina tweeted: “I’m not justifying them playing such roles for Bagani but she is Filipino. Don’t you appreciate her loving her Filipino roots even when y’all keep throwing your di-ka-naman-pinoy hate against her?”
I'm not justifying them playing such roles for Bagani but she is Filipino. Don't you appreciate her loving her Filipino roots even when y'all keep throwing your di-ka-naman-pinoy hate against her?— Celine (@RonaCelina) February 19, 2018
“Liza, Enrique, all these actors ARE Filipino,” tweeted @kipaypay. “You don’t have the right to take that away from them from some essentialist notion of nationality.”
Bothered na dinadala yung usapan ng Bagani sa right to being a Filipino noong actors. To REAL LIFE. Let's not be like that guys.— QUEEN CEO AILEE (@kipaypay) February 18, 2018
Liza, Enrique, all these actors ARE Filipino. You don't have the right to take that away from them from some essentialist notion of nationality.
Bagani premieres on ABS-CBN in March. – Rappler.com