Padayon is a Filipino word in the Visayan dialect, meaning onward or to continue. And this series is aptly named.
The location is in a remote Filipino province where a woman and her son are caretakers of a farmhouse for a wealthy family. The family rarely visits but, on this occasion, their arrogant son arrives. His name is Andre Rodriguez, played by John Padillia. He is an angry, condescending, and a dismissive young man who thinks everyone else is beneath him. He is obviously spoiled, and his father, having enough of his self-indulgence, banishes him to the farmhouse; where he gets stuck due to the ongoing pandemic. Andre is a bully and tries to get his way whenever and wherever he goes. However, he meets his match in Kai Andres (Ian Rosapapan). Along with his mother, Kai maintains and manages the house. He is often dismissive of Kai, but Kai overlooks a lot of his behavior as he sees something worth saving in Andre.
The screenplay in this series is surprisingly good as it takes to heart the commonality of the surroundings and the people who inhabit them. It is an impoverished area but filled with a rich diversity of people who do understand each other. It is only slightly obvious initially that Kai is gay, as he is not completely out. He has several transgender friends in this community. It is as much a story about them as it is about the relationship between Kai and Andre. This area seemingly accepts the group of trans individuals, and this story portrays their struggles with a great deal of understanding and acceptance. But it does not present it through Pollyanna rose-tinted glasses. They tackle and discuss some of the issues that bespeckle the trans community. This portion is very well presented and written with a great deal of understanding and empathy, but certainly not with complete idealism.
While Andre was busy being his condescending self, Kai’s interest in him intensifies. Perhaps Kai feels sad seeing Andre’s loneliness or the stirrings of genuine attraction make him become closer to Andre. In any case, the two of them begin to spend more and more time together and as they do, Andre’s defensive walls crumble. He begins to see the people he has been calling insignificant as hardworking, industrious, and severely taken advantage of. He begins to toil with the natives and realizes how hard manual labor really is. While he has a reputation of being arrogant, Kai does not see him like that and begins to redirect his mind set into a new direction. Kai tells him that he only views those people as a burden to him. Kai’s words to him will forever be memorable,
“Our life is difficult and yet you feel like you are having more difficulties.”
He begins to show Andre what life for others is really like. Their relationship strengthens and they become even closer, and both begin to enjoy each other’s company.
All of this is to the consternation of Kai’s best friend, Drix (Florentino Bautista). Drix has been his closest friend for a long time and in a sense feels entitled to Kai’s attention. And when Kai’s attention turns to Andre, he becomes jealous. Their bromance is fast ending because he recognizes that Kai is gay, and he has developed a sexual interest in Andre. A difficult observation for Drix to make and accept, yet he knows it is inevitable. Drix has to learn to go in the direction he seeks while Kai must do the same in his life. This story is a real coming-of-age narrative and in that sense, it seems quite sincere and real. There is also a stunningly beautiful scene between Kai and his mother when she gently and softly tells him that she ‘knows’. And her acceptance of him is complete, full, and unconditional. It is a beautiful story.
Just when their relationship begins to blossom in comes Elaine, Andre’s ex-girlfriend (Milen Alonde), who is even more pompous and controlling than Andre was previously. Kai is deeply hurt, not only because of his dishonesty; but because of Andre’s constant attempts to get Kai to understand him while Andre never seems to understand Kai. Elaine is desperate to break up this budding relationship, but Andre finds Kai and with great emotion as well as vulnerability, tells him that he really likes him and wants to take a chance on them being together. However, this outcome is uncertain as the story ends.
A nod must be given and acknowledged to all the transgender individuals who participated in this incomparable gem of a story. They did so with great passion, and it is obvious, that it was a great labor of love for them. In essence, it is really their story. They convey their hardships along with their dreams and aspirations of meeting that certain special someone. This is an inspiration for many with the same stories, which makes it particularly poignant. Kudos for all of those who had the courage and conviction to make their story, while perhaps fictional, rings true and relatable. It is indeed a refreshing direction for a BL series. Their story is an example of Padayon.
Rating: 4.3 out of 5