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Marahuyo Project: Shining a Light on the Struggles of the Provincial LGBTQ+ Community in the Philippines

Moving Beyond Metro Manila: Marahuyo Project Depicts Battles of the LGBTQ+ Community in the Provinces

While countless stories explore the lives of the LGBTQ+ community in urban centres like Manila, director JP Habac’s recently concluded series, “Marahuyo’s Project,” takes a refreshing step outside the city walls. his groundbreaking web series dives into the struggles by LGBTQ+ individuals in the often-conservative provinces of the Philippines.

Habac’s vision was clear: to create a “barkada” show (a show with a group of friends) that celebrates diversity within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Inspired by classic youth-oriented series like “Tabing-Ilog” and “G-mik,” he envisioned a show that offered authentic representation for young Filipinos who may not have seen themselves reflected on screen.

“I wanted to move beyond just a love story between two gay men,” Habac explains. “The series aims to target a broader range of experiences and narratives. Growing up, most youth show featured straight characters. I wanted queer viewers to see themselves represented onscreen finally.”

Habac highlights a specific concern: the portrayal of “femme” characters in past shows. “These characters often became the butt of jokes,” he says. “Even during the pandemic, femme characters weren’t always played by actual femme actors. We wanted to break that stereotype in Marahuyo’s Project. Representation is key. These characters aren’t included for comic relief or just to advance the scenario. They play a crucial role in the narrative of the eight-episode series.”

King’s Journey: A Fight for Representation and Community Building

Marahuyo Project centres around King (played by Adrian Lindayag), a young man who embarks on a mission to establish an LGBTQ+ organization within his conservative provincial school. King’s determination and optimism resonate with both the character and the director himself, who identifies as an activist and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.

“King is close to my heart,” Lindayag shares. “His bravery and unwavering spirit inspire me. He embodies the importance of taking risks and fighting for a diversity. As someone similar in that regard, I see a lot of myself in him.”

Lindayag emphasizes the show’s message of empowerment. “I want viewers to find the courage to be themselves, to stand up for what they believe in, even when it’s difficult. King’s unwavering loyalty to himself is a powerful message,” he says. “The series also inspired me personally. After filming, I noticed a shift in my confidence and approach to life. It taught me to stand my ground for my rights, especially when fighting for my community.”

Breaking Down Barriers: Education and Challenging Stereotypes

Habac underscores the series’ role in highlighting the need for education and open-mindedness in rural areas. “In many places, the accurate information is limited,” he explains. “Traditional beliefs can be deeply inheritaged, leading to misconceptions. I’ve personally experienced this in my hometown, where negative stereotypes about LGBTQ+ individuals persist. These stereotypes often portray gay men as flamboyant hairdressers, hypersexual, or lacking academic potential.”

This limited perspective, according to Habac, comes from a lack of knowledge. He explores the clash that occurs when a progressive individual encounters a conservative environment.

The Power of Community: Finding Strength and Support

Through King’s journey to establish an LGBTQ+ organization, the series stresses the importance of community building. Lindayag highlights this aspect: “There’s strength in numbers, especially during those formative years when you’re discovering yourself. The show talks about the beauty of finding and supporting each other on that journey. Having a safe space like an LGBTQ+ organization at school is crucial.”

Habac expands on this idea, defining community not by size but by the strength of the bond. “A community, or an ‘org’ as the show refers to it, doesn’t need to be massive,” he says. “It’s about having a chosen family who will support you in navigating self-discovery and defining your identity. Acceptance and self-discovery become easier when you have support on your journey. When you’re queer, finding relatable representation can be a challenge. This is where the community comes in – being surrounded by people who understand your struggles and can offer guidance.”

Conclusion

Marahuyo Project stands as a testament to the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance in the Philippines. By shining a light on the struggles faced by individuals living outside of urban centres, the series sparks conversations and fosters empathy. Ultimately, it’s a story celebrating the importance of representation, community, and self-acceptance.

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