The power of parental love

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
The power of parental love
Lilet and Ken Chan play mother and son in the GMA Afternoon Prime drama My Special Tatay

MANILA, Philippines — Love is love regardless of who gives or receives it. It is universal that no one can escape from experiencing it. My Special Tatay, the latest GMA Afternoon Prime drama, explores parental love in two-fold ways and looks at how its power can change lives and shape minds.

Lilet and Ken Chan play mother and son in the weekday TV series that premieres today.

“I came back in 2014 and my first role was that of a mother,” recalled Lilet of her second wind in showbiz in a chat with The STAR. She came into prominence via the iconic Tomorrow’s People Coke commercial. After, Lilet did recording, TV and the movies. She had a sojourn from the limelight and returned as Marielle.

“I think I have played more than six mother roles since then,” added Lilet, believing that every mother role requires a different approach. “Iba-iba yung characters, kumbaga parang tayong mga tao rin. We have different personalities, different orientation like where we grew up and our background.” Character study is a must for Lilet in creating her small-screen roles like Isay, the loving mother of Boyet (portrayed by Ken) in My Special Tatay. “It can’t be like ‘Mayaman ka, bahala ka na,’” she said. Lilet, the actress finds the need to look into her character’s fictive world and discover her needs and innermost thoughts. From there, she can come to the set with the mindset of Isay and not hers.

“Halo-halo. May mayaman, may mahirap (I have done mother roles of both privileged and marginalized backgrounds),” said Lilet, who perhaps has done the gamut of mother characters from kontrabida to bida in a short span of time. “The difference this time is my child is intellectually challenged. He is a special child, yung approach dito (ay) parang pinagtali-tali pati (yung storya ng bata) dun sa character ng nanay. My character wants to raise her son to be a good citizen and yet is protective. She, at the same time, has maraming hugot from her past.”

Among her recent roles, Isay, so far, is the most interesting, given her checkered, challenging past, Lilet said. “Makulay (ang buhay niya). She is the most colorful (mom character) I have ever played. Just in the pilot episode, a lot of things will happen in her life.” The singer-turned-actress takes on the role as the single mom Isay without any hesitation, ready to bring whatever she can to the table.

Since the My Special Tatay narrative focuses on Boyet with mild intellectual disability and mild autism spectrum disorder, the drama serves as an advocacy that educates viewers on this condition. “They say it takes a village to raise a child,” said Lilet, quoting an African proverb. “Every part (or member) of the community is involved kahit hindi nila alam, even in their small way, all are involved.”

Asked how much maternal love will be showcased onscreen, Lilet replied, “So much (love). (My character) is the type of mom who will do everything to protect her child and at the same time, to raise him well. Some parents are in denial (of their children’s being special). She is not totally in denial but she wants to raise him na kaya niya (to be an independent person).” Lilet’s Isay has to because some people may take advantage of Boyet’s innocence.

Away from the klieg lights, Lilet is married to a Filipino, not to a foreigner as some may think, and they have a 10-year-old daughter.

“I still love singing,” she said. “But the opportunities that the Lord has opened to me lately are in acting. I’m enjoying it and embracing it.”

From being a transwoman in Destiny Rose to a rich, arrogant businessman in Meant To Be, Ken challenges himself by becoming Boyet, a character reminiscent of Sam Dawson in I Am Sam, on TV.

“I’m very thankful and I feel lucky to have this project,” he said during the recent media call. “This is my most challenging role. Mahirap talaga siyang gawin. Me, the creative team and director LA (Madridejos) had to do immersion. Napaka-sensitive po talaga ng ganitong storya at (yung) kondisyon (nung character). We needed to interact with those people who have this mental disability. We’ve done a lot of research and (I’ve) watched movies.”

According to Ken, he doesn’t have a specific character or actor in mind to draw literally Boyet from. His inspiration comes from different sources like the people he has met during the immersion and the characters he has seen in films and programs (like Sam of I Am Sam, Forrest, Forrest Gump, Niño Inocente of Niño and Tinay, Little Nanay).

“They have helped me immensely,” he said. “With the case of Boyet, I have difficulty living his life. I hope the viewers will like him (my character) and (appreciate) what I can offer.” Like his mom Isay who raises a (young adult) child, Boyet rears a seven-month-old baby in the series.

“Mahilig po ako sa bata, (lalo) sa babies,” said Ken of playing a young dad, “kaya hindi po ako nahirapang gumanap bilang isang tatay (I’m fond of kids and babies. I have no problem with them. So, I don’t have any difficulty doing that aspect of my character.) It’s my first time to play dad on TV.” Since he has the mindset of a dad, Ken as Boyet performs his duties easily. Ken acts real and so does Lilet, a young mom in real life, as Isay.

My Special Tatay has given Ken and Lilet the chance to remind everyone of the power of parental love.

(My Special Tatay also stars Jestoni Alarcon, Teresa Loyzaga, Carmen Soriano, Candy Pangilinan, Matt Evans, Empress Schuck, Valeen Montenegro, Bruno Gabriel, Jillian Ward, Ashley Rivera, Arra San Agustin and JK Giducos,)

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