Paolo Pangilinan and Ian Pangilinan in Taking Pride in Your Own Narrative
For as long as I can remember, I've always been fascinated by Max Ehrmann's poem, Desiderata. How it captures the paradoxical beauty of humanity's revered radiance in a place of great chaos. And how it persuades every soul that reads it to own their narrative without distortions, half-truths, or false discernment.
"You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
Maybe it's a stroke of luck, or it's the universe pulling the cosmic strings, but these lines from the philosophical prose dawned on my consciousness in kaleidoscope colors during my candid interview with Paolo Pangilinan and Ian Pangilinan for PARCINQ Magazine.
Fashion by Bessie Besana, Bracelets by @MacrobyRxandy
The Heart Of Pride Month In All Its Glory
Before I met our cover stars for the #DiverseLoveIssue, I was pretty convinced that everyone already knows Paolo and Ian like their characters Karl and Vlad in the BL series, Gaya Sa Pelikula. With all the previous interviews and articles written about them, I was quite sure that it will be a challenge for me to come up with a new angle to introduce them. However, as we start our conversation and delved into the essence of Pride Month in all its glory, a different kind of glow beamed on their faces— and at that moment, I knew that we have taken off for a great dialogue.
"For me, Pride [in its name] is about being able to be proud of who you are," explains Ian. "Being able to express what you feel like expressing about yourself without the fear of being judged or fear of people not accepting you because it's not what they believe in."
More than its larger-than-life, prismatic, and festive facade, Pride Month is more than rainbow flags and parades. It is a mirrorball of the past, the present, and the future as we walk through the path of equality and love— a celebration that overrules the pernicious prospect of our modern society.
Adding to these ideals, Paolo says, "I believe that Pride today is the Pride that it's always been, it's a form of protest, a cultural phenomenon, a movement on its way to becoming a revolution in which we can change the way we deal with things from all spheres of life."
A Vessel Of Love, Truth, And Pride
A year after they played their breakout roles as Karl and Vlad in Globe Studios' BL series, Gaya Sa Pelikula, Paolo and Ian have carried on to become a crusader for what the series stands for.
The show, which can be seen on YouTube and Netflix, only has eight glorious episodes for its first season. But, nevertheless, its activism for being a story of queer people for queer people remains a vessel of love, truth, and pride for its viewers.
Furthermore, as our conversation takes us on their journey in championing stories of the LGBTQ+ community, Paolo and Ian shared the things they unveiled within themselves in playing the titular lead roles.
Paolo Pangilinan wearing Bessie Besana
"Karl has helped me navigate how I could get my message across. I believe that in playing Karl, I learned that the best way to show [the realities of] people is through storytelling," says Paolo. "Karl helped me reach out to people through art, and I agree that art should mean something other than what it is at face value because good art is an art that comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfort."
Ian Pangilinan wearing Bessie Besana
To shape up the conversation even more, Ian adds that his character presented contrasting traits that somehow uncannily resonates with him as a person. "Vladimir has always been somebody who is very proud of who he is, unapologetic of who he is. And I think me growing up, I very much went through all of those moments, like 'oh my gosh. Will my mom like me, or will my friends like me?' I always try to adjust depending on who [I] want to please," says Ian. "And at a certain point, [I] just learned how to love my core, you know, love who you are, love, what you believe in. That's what I learned most from [Vlad] because he was out there as far as imperfect as he was, and he tries his best all the time."
Paolo is wearing Light Shine White, Ian is wearing H&M
The Journey Continues
Upholding the truths and reasons of the final anecdote shown in Gaya Sa Pelikula, “Nasa labas ang totoong laban,” Paolo Pangilinan and Ian Pangilinan are ready and fully equipped to take their quest as advocates of love, understanding, and equality.
"I think almost everyone growing up has that same struggle of like not only just figuring out themselves, but also being able to like who they are," says Ian. "And being able to tackle a project like that, the pains of growing up, the pain of not liking yourself, those are the stories I want to tackle in [my] future [projects] because it's a struggle that almost everyone shares and people don't talk about it enough."
On the other hand, Paolo is set to commit to showcasing narratives that matter the most, such as understanding identity and sexuality among many things. "The other projects that I wish to do that are related to these [narratives] are those in the domains that are not in media," says Paolo. "Right now, I'm doing research on my cohorts, the LGBTQ+ community, in hopes that they find health-seeking behavior and safe sexual practices. [I'am also looking forward to] ambassadorships in organizations that involve in promoting these types of practices [such as] better health outcomes for these individuals," He continues. "In line with my upcoming profession as a doctor, of course, I will surely tailor all of my research towards this specific community [because] I'd like to echo what I just said earlier. If it's just left with Gaya Sa Pelikula, If I just left it that Karl, it would all have been for nothing. So we need to keep the ball rolling. And I'd like to get another gay role, hopefully."
Taking Pride, Owning Your Narrative
With the surge of new stories celebrating the pride and love in the LGBTQ+ community, such as “Gaya Sa Pelikula,” the responsibility of queer creatives and storytellers now gravitates beyond the face of entertainment, and towards the lingering consciousness of many. We have already taken a leap in the right direction for narratives of the queer but it shouldn’t be the end-all and be all in the crusade for love, pride, and equality.
"What I wish [for] people [to] get to learn from this is that all of these things [will] mean nothing if not put into action," says Paolo. "All of these hashtags, all of these episodes released out of the kilig, all of the emotions that we've gained, we've sustained and nurtured through Gaya sa Pelikula, and through other cultural movements that we tried to get rolling. What I see from it is that it's all for nothing If we don't do anything about it."
For Ian, these narratives are not here to satisfy the ignorant famishment for dalliance. But rather, there is a whole lot of purpose to it and that is to take pride in owning your own narrative.
"With the visibility that comes with this kind of love, I think it's a way for people to be like, 'Hey, you know, this kind of love is worth putting a spotlight on,' [It is worth] showcasing to the world because it is beautiful. It's worth celebrating."
Ian Pangilinan wearing Light Shine White
Amidst the chaos and the hastes of our modern world, our two icons also would like to remind everyone — especially the youth — to find peace within the wonders of themselves.
"My advice to anyone who is still figuring out who they are is to be kind to yourself. There are enough pressures in this world that, and if you add pressure to yourself, that's going to be a whole another journey to take," says Ian. "So, be patient with yourself, everybody has their own pace, everybody has their own way of figuring out who they are, and just because you haven't figured it out right away, it doesn't mean you're any less of a person. It just means you have a different story than everybody else, and that's wonderful."
Paolo also shared his personal mantra that has helped him go through life, "What I'd like to give as a piece of advice to the younger kids seeing this, is [for them to] try to find a safe space in oneself," Paolo advised. "Make that space in your head. [That's] the first thing that you [need] to fix, and remember to yourself that you are OKAY. How you feel is valid, you don't need to be fixed, and you're amazing. I can't wait to see you shine, kiddo!"
Paolo Pangilinan wearing Light Shine White
As we meet the end of our cordial conversation, I now have first-hand knowledge of what Paolo Pangilinan and Ian Pangilinan uphold within their core. Beyond the facade of the limelight that shines upon them lies an underlying mission—a quest for the community that deserves to be seen and be well represented.
The moment we said our goodbyes, I was once again reminded of the ending lines from Desiderata, "And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."
May everyone celebrate the colors within themselves and carry on to fight for their own truth. Let’s celebrate love in all its forms. Happy Pride Month! 🏳️🌈
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin (@rxandy)
Art Direction & Final Art by Joe Andy (@heyjoeandy)
Hair & Grooming by Mycke Arcano (@mycke.arcano)
Assisted by Sophia Esmiller (@sophia_esmiller)
Featuring fashion by @LightShineWhite, @BessieBesana, #HMPhilippines
Shoot Assistant Anna Fregillana (@annafregillana)