11 November 2011

'Budoy' sets example in treating the mentally challenged with compassion

The entertainment value and dramatic flair of ABS-CBN’s “Budoy” have Filipino viewers glued to the boobtube whenever it airs. More importantly, the primetime drama is seemingly changing people’s perception about the mentally challenged.
A clear example is that when some of its viewers commit mistakes, they no longer call themselves “abnoy,” “kulang-kulang,” or “abnormal” even in jest. An eight-year-old nephew of mine, Richard, when committing mistakes or when he stutters, would just say “Ako Budoy.” People around him would just laugh and say “he’s so cute.”
Calling someone “Budoy” nowadays is not as insulting as calling people “abnoy.” Budoy who is played by matinee idol and awarded actor Gerald Anderson lessened the stigma of “Budoy” as a negative description. Rather, it reminds us that even the mentally challenged are human beings who are to be loved, treated with respect and accepted in society.
Nowadays too, if you call someone “Budoy,” they’d acknowledge it with a smile because they associate it more to the “handsomeness and cuteness” of Gerald Anderson than with his disorder. The effect above is just one of the positive things that the Kapamilya network wants “Budoy” to accomplish being an advocacy-series.
“Kung with this project merong group of people or an individual who would stop bullying another person and if that individual would suddenly stop them and take time to appreciate another person na different sa kanya then we would have been successful already. We would have accomplished and have been fulfilled already with our advocacy,” explained its director Ruel Bayani (who also megged the multi-million box-office hit “No Other Woman”).
With “Budoy,” Ruel and his ABS-CBN crew hope to bring changes regarding social acceptance of those who are different, those marginalized in society, and those discriminated against, whether a mentally challenged person, a person with deformity, a person with a “different” sexual orientation, etcetera.
“Budoy can represent all of them, the Budoys of the world who we should accept and understand them even if we can’t understand them. To accept them, to embrace them and allow them to be part of society, function and co-exist in society. So kasama rin yung education. We’re pushing for education for everyone and for special children,” stressed Bayani.
The campus setting too is significant to “Budoy” because it represents the place where they experience cruelty.
“Bago pa natin problemahin yung pag-apply nila ng trabaho, pagsakay nila ng public transpo on their way to work, problemahin muna natin noong bata pa sila when they are sensitive and vulnerable,” he opined.
Like the other soap operas in ABS-CBN, “Budoy” entertains its audience with a solid dramatic storyline. Kapamilya viewers can have their “soap opera fix” and at the same time, learn more about the show’s advocacy.
From the beginning, too, they already know how much of a gamble mounting “Budoy” was.
“There has never been a soap opera on prime time with a mentally challenged protagonist. Years ago this would have been unheard of. Years ago no one would even present this. Years ago this would have been rejected right away. Maybe times are really changing and people are really changing,” Bayani said.
Such a gamble is already paying off, says Bayani. Since airing a few weeks ago, “Budoy” has been getting positive feedback.
“People are saying the most wonderful things about the show. Gerald is very happy and management is very happy because no one has been turned off or have said na hardcore naman propaganda ito. Sobrang effort kami para ma-achieve ito and I don’t know if it’s the Atenean in me or me just being more socially responsible because I’m 42 years old and I just want to give back also to society and the community,” he explained further.
“Budoy” also reunited Ruel Bayani and Gerald Anderson. They have worked in the “Lubid” episode of “Maalaala Mo Kaya” where Gerald played a person with Tourette Syndrome. Recall that the episode paved the way for Gerald’s acting abilities to be recognized by a number of award-giving bodies.




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