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Entertainment

Dading: The joys & heartaches of parenting

JP Mitog - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Less than a year ago, GMA Network changed the course of primetime television via ratings-strong My Husband’s Lover, the country’s first-ever gay-themed series that paved the way for controversial dramas to follow suit.

Since then, soap operas have taken a turn for the progressive — more than the usual Cinderella storylines and revenge narratives typical of telenovelas. Television now is more bold in its approach, featuring themes such as politics and corruption (Bayan Ko), issues on Philippine education (Titser), infidelity and bigamy (Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real) and most recently, LGBT parenting.

Dading, the country’s newest afternoon series with a gay parent at the forefront, is a strong addition to GMA’s groundbreaking program line-up. A portmanteau of daddy and bading (Filipino vernacular for homosexual), Dading tells the story of a unique bond between a homosexual father and a daughter he raised as his own. It explores the challenges of this unusual parent-child relationship and the sacrifices an adoptive parent will make for his child.

Playing the title role is character actor Gabby Eigenmann. “Carding is very loving, caring and nurturing,” says Gabby, son to veteran actor Mark Gil. “Maasikasong daddy na bading, at mas inuuna pa niya yung ibang tao kaysa sa sarili.”

An heir to showbiz royalty, Gabby is no stranger to the limelight. His impressive lineage includes father Mark, uncle Michael de Mesa, aunt Cherie Gil, grandparents Eddie Mesa and Rosemarie Gil, half-siblings Sid Lucero and Andi Eigenmann, and cousins Geoff and Ryan Eigenmann.

Dading came as a surprise for Gabby, who leaves all the decision making to his long-time manager Perry Lansigan. “I was in Japan when Perry texted me that I have a new project. I never really knew what it was. When I came back, I was surprised that it was this big.”

“I feel overwhelmed, but then I will always want to think that it’s just work,” says Gabby, admitting the weight of his role. “I know comparisons to other actors are expected, and sometimes I worry that I might not give justice to the role, but this same pressure challenges me to do better.”

On the upside, Gabby is thankful that he has a lot of gay friends who guide him with his character. “I observe them a lot, ask tips and advice on how they interact with friends, with loved ones, and they mostly have different stories to tell. Doon ako kumukuha ng support for my role.”

Parenting is not a walk in the park, says Gabby, but being a father himself helps in giving color to his portrayal of Dading. “I’m good with kids, I love children,” he says. Gabby has two children and two step-children with his non-showbiz wife of 16 years, Apples.

“It’s never easy being a father to begin with. Every day, I’m still learning. I guess my dad and mom did a very good job. I’ve come to know how to handle kids.”

Known for villainous roles, Gabby recalls how his entire family supported him in his decision to play a homosexual father. “My kids found it funny and they said, ‘Finally, you’re not playing a bad guy, but a gay guy.’ I spoke to my brother and cousins about it, they were all happy for me. Especially my sisters, inaasar nila ako.”

Joining him in this innovative afternoon series are Glaiza de Castro, Benjamin Alves and Chynna Ortaleza. Helmed by veteran actor and director Ricky Davao, Dading also stars Gardo Versoza, Toby Alejar, Mymy Davao, RJ Padilla and Zarah Mae Deligero.

Glaiza chimes in, “It’s interesting and comforting to be in a soap that’s not too melodramatic and focuses more on the reality of everyday life. This is the first time na may role akong may partner na gay, tapos mother din ako dito, I’m still in the process of learning things I need for my character.”

Glaiza plays Beth — high school friend to Gabby’s Carding, and biological mother to his adoptive daughter. Former sweethearts and now best of friends, Beth and Carding face trouble when the child’s biological father (Benjamin Alves) begins to press his claim to his love child.

A showbiz newcomer, 25-year-old Benjamin is grateful to have worked with “two very excellent actors.” He adds, “I’ve been blessed to work with Timmy (Sid Lucero), Geoff, and now Gabby Eigenmann. Iba talaga sila. It almost confirms the theory that acting is hereditary. Si Glaiza naman, I love her sharpness in her movements, and her diction, which I’ve witnessed in Katipunan.”

Benjamin and Glaiza have previously collaborated in Katipunan, GMA News TV’s historical drama series chronicling the life of Gat Andres Bonifacio.

With Gabby, however, it’s a first. “It’s my first time to work with both of them. Glaiza for one, I’ve been wanting to work with her for the longest time. Lagi kaming hi-hello lang, but when I found out that I’ll be working with her, na-excite ako.”

Glaiza is 10 years his junior, but Gabby says when it comes to acting, age is just a number. “Sarap niyang ka-eksena. She’s not just a receiver, she’s a giver. She has depth. Ibang klase talaga, you can see how passionate she is.”

Gabby shares that he is never picky about roles — but as an actor, it’s his job to make it memorable. “Being in showbiz is a profession. Whatever is given to you, you just have to do your best. Like they say, you’re as good as your last show.”

BAYAN KO

BENJAMIN ALVES

BENJAMIN ALVES AND CHYNNA ORTALEZA

BENJAMIN AND GLAIZA

BETH AND CARDING

CHERIE GIL

EDDIE MESA AND ROSEMARIE GIL

GABBY

GABBY EIGENMANN

GLAIZA

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