The Paloma Effect
Photos credit to mr.cocomartin ig

I interviewed a doctor for a possible film project. She is the next stop of people after finding out that they have HIV. I was only about to ask her medical matters about HIV, but we ended up talking about homophobia within the family. She considers this as one of the primary causes on why a gay person would hide his homosexuality to his family and later on engage in risky behaviors such as unsafe sex. When a gay person confesses to his parents about his positive HIV status, the parents usually accept them. But this is not enough for the gay person. He feels that the parents are just accepting them because he is their son. The gay person watches for “signs” that the parents or his family also respects other gay individuals. The doctor says that the subtle signs of homophobia by parents can be enough for a gay person to conclude that he is not accepted or that it is wrong to be gay. For example, while the family is watching TV and an actor who is rumored to be gay appears, and the mother makes a comment like: “Bading daw sya, sayang siya.” (They say he is gay, what a waste.). That comment just imprinted on the gay family member that his parents find gays a “waste.” There goes his self-worth.

But there is hope.

I was able to catch an episode of ANG PROBINSYANO where Coco Martin’s character cross-dresses as “Paloma” and joins a beauty pageant to catch a suspect. I recall that the episode aired the day Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach returned to the country. I never remembered FPJ cross-dressing in any of his films. FPJ remained an icon of Filipino machismo to his death. Now, here comes a re-imagining of one of his films, and his character is being reprised by Coco Martin, who is now beginning to be the icon of Filipino machismo. Credit goes to the makers of the show (creatives, directors, producers) for taking this risky move. But I would like to single-out Mr. Coco Martin’s acceptance of this task.

Coco Martin has played JUAN DELA CRUZ, a re-imagining of another FPJ hit: ANG PANDAY. Now, he plays a cop (and was even awarded by the PNP for uplifting the public perception of policemen). When the plot required him to don a female outfit, to cross-dress, and look every bit the part (even posting on Instagram and social media), Coco made a risky move. He risked his “macho image.” He might turn-off some of his male fans.

But the contrary happened.

The episodes posted the highest ratings in primetime history. Pretty much like a Pacquiao fight.

I now imagine a macho Filipino father watching Coco Martin with his family and the father making a comment like: “Ang ganda ni Coco…” (Coco is beautiful). Imagine what that comment can mean for a gay son who is also watching the same program.
Mass media, television in particular, is still the most powerful vehicle for change.
Thank you to the makers of ANG PROBINSYANO for this risky move.

Thank you Mr. Coco Martin for “being female” without shame.

(Thank you also for being a “best friend” to the ultimate gay icon Vice Ganda in BEAUTY AND THE BESTIE that is now the highest grossing Filipino film of all time. )

When big movie stars portray roles that change the mass paradigm on sexuality, the scope of its effect is wide and lasting.

Mass media, television in particular, must continue to take risks to achieve a tipping point in changing consciousness.

Francis Xavier Pasion graduated cum laude at the Ateneo, major in Communication. He is the founder of the premier film organization in Ateneo, the Loyola Film Circle. He directed awardwinning independent films in Cinemalaya: JAY, SAMPAGUITA and just last year, BWAYA which won grand prizes in Tokyo and France. He started out writing teleseryes in ABS CBN and eventually became a director for MY BINONDO GIRL, PRINCESS AND I, DYESEBEL and NATHANIEL to name a few.