Ken Chan, the actor who played the role of a transgender woman in GMA Network’s Destiny Rose, has sounded off on the Manny Pacquiao debacle, saying that while he respects the Filipino boxer’s right to express his opinion, “hindi natin maiiwasan na maraming masaktan (that many people were hurt [by Pacquiao’s statements] can’t be avoided).”
Destiny Rose is a drama series by GMA Network that tells the story of a transgender woman.
Speaking exclusively to Outrage Magazine in a chance interview, Chan said that what’s also important is that Pacquiao apologized.
Chan also said of the LGBT community: “Kung paano pa sila pinapahirapan ng society, kung gaano sila hinihila pababa ng lipunan, at the end of the day, sila pa yung malambot ang puso* (Even if the society makes life difficult for them, even if society pulls them down, at the end of the day, they have good hearts).”
With the Pacquiao issue, Chan said he thinks it will also be the same; that LGBT people will find it in their hearts to be forgiving, and “sa huli, magkakaayos din ito (at the end of the day, things will also be amended).”
Chan’s taking of the role of a transgender person may be likened to the much-criticized “pink washing” happening in Hollywood, where “when it comes to LGBT representations on the big screen, studios almost always cast heterosexual cisgender performers—and then shower them in Oscar gold for it.”
There are LGBT celebrities who also said that “when people are [called] brave in regards to playing LGBTQ people, that’s borderline offensive,” best stated by Ellen Page in TIME, adding that “I’m never going to be considered brave for playing a straight person, and nor should I be.”
At least in Hollywood, at least 50 straight people already won Oscars for LGBT roles.
In the Philippines, and more recently, a transwoman – Mimi Juareza – won the top acting award in 2013, but she was lumped in the wrong gender.
Chan also shared to Outrage Magazine that he was asked in the past if he wanted to become a spokesperson/ambassador for the LGBT community, and “masuwerte ako kung gagawin talaga yan. Hindi ako magdadalawang-isip na tanggapin ‘yun (I’d be very lucky if this really happened. I won’t have second thoughts accepting this).”
For Chan, this is particularly true because having a heterosexual person also speaking for the LGBT community can be effective to make people understand about the plight of the members of the LGBT community, particularly in countries like the Philippines where LGBT people are not yet fully accepted.
Chan credits his portrayal of a transgender person for helping him gain better understanding about the LGBT community.
Before he played the lead role of transgender woman Destiny Rose, “mataas na talaga yung respecto ko sa LGBT (community) [I always held the LGBT community in high esteem],” he said, adding that “nabigyan ako ng mas malalim na kaalaman nung ginawa ko yung ‘Destiny Rose’ – ano yung pinagdadaanan nila sa buhay… (I was gained deeper understanding when I made ‘Destiny Rose’ – what they go through in life).” – STORY FILED WITH AARON BONETTE
*That gay people have “malambot na puso (literally, soft hearts)” continues to be used in the Philippines as a marker of people who are seen as weaker. That is, males have “matigas na puso (strong/sturdy hearts)” while women have “malambot na puso (soft hearts)”; and so gay men – supposedly by not being “manly”, also have “malambot na puso” and are thus weaker. In the context of this interview, however, the term was used to refer to the interviewee’s perceived kindness (i.e. ability to be forgiving) of members of the LGBT community.