Aside from bringing valuable entertainment, primetime dramas should also mirror real-life stories which most of the audiences can relate to and inspire and educate them without setting aside its cinematic effect.In late 2011, the well-loved coming-of-age series Budoy was launched, an advoca-serye which elucidated the plight of mentally-challenged people. It ran from October 10, 2011 to March 9, 2012 and was top-billed by Gerald Anderson.
Budoy revolved around the life of Benjamin Maniego (Gerald Anderson), a boy afflicted with Angelman’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system and causes severe intellectual and developmental disability and speech and movement problems. He originally came from a famous family of doctors, the Maniegos.
Ironically, despite being successful in his profession as an obstetrician and gynecologist, Anton (Tirso Cruz III) found it difficult to conceive an offspring with his former secretary-turned-wife Luisa (Zsa-Zsa Padilla). Thus, using his expertise and influence, he decided to perform in vitro fertilization to treat their infertility and after nine months, Luisa gave birth to Benjamin. It was indeed a jovial moment and a blessing to their family, until they discovered that he was suffering from Angelman Syndrome. The clan tried so hard to hide the boy’s condition to the public, so his paternal family gave him to a caretaker (Arlene Muhlach) to protect their family’s reputation. But she eventually died, so he was left under the care of the maid Elena Dizon (Janice de Belen), who became his compassionate adoptive mother. Meanwhile, in order to save Luisa’s sanity over the loss of his son, Grace (Mylene Dizon), the wife of her brother-in-law Isaac (Christian Vasquez) suggested to just present a fake Benjamin, BJ (Enrique Gil), which unbeknownst to them was Grace’s son.
Elena and her father Renato (Dante Rivero) lived a simple life, but it didn’t hinder them to raise Budoy very well and protect him from anyone who bullied or hurt him due to his ailment. To be able to help his family, Budoy worked as a janitor in a university where was able to reunite with his bestfriend Jackie (Jessy Mendiola) and befriended BJ, who was now Jackie’s rude beau. But their friendship became on the rocks as the two guys got into an altercation because of Jackie, which resulted in Budoy’s hospitalization.
Eventually, the Maniegos' secrets were revealed, including the real identity of BJ's parents and the persons behind the abduction of Budoy when he was still five years old. Budoy’s condition also began to alleviate and he even became genius, and got into a relationship with his bestfriend Jackie. This was when BJ started to develop hatred towards Budoy and conspired with his biological parents, Grace and Henry Chavez (Cris Villanueva), an ex-convict, to hatch devious plots against Budoy but all of those failed. Amidst the maltreatments he received from BJ, Budoy still harnessed kindness towards him. However, due to a traumatic event, Budoy returned to his abnormal state while Luisa became temporarily mute—difficulties they both successfully overcame in the end. BJ regretted and apologized for all his wrongdoings and reconciled with Budoy and Jackie.
When everything seemed going well, the vengeful Grace came into the picture again and attempted to shoot Budoy on his birthday but failed. BJ became a doctor and married Jackie with whom he had a son named Benjo. But the family they were just starting to establish got wrecked immediately when they were kidnapped and killed by a hitman from a crime syndicate. As a godfather, Budoy promised to take care of Benjo and he became a priest. He also built up a special school for children.
This series has truly left a special mark in the minds and hearts of audiences, aside from the catchphrase “Hello, ako Budoy!” the titular character had been uttering, its storyline was so relatable to the normal people and persons-with-disabilities alike, since bullying and discrimination are problems we continue to face until now. Aside from that, the drama also boasted a stellar ensemble cast.
Though there was a tinge of romance and action, Budoy stuck in its main goal as an advoca-series and a family-oriented drama, which is to educate the public on the plight of the mentally-challenged people and give them hope and inspiration.