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Star-crossed in the sequel

Love Beneath the Stars directly continues the story of The Boy Foretold by the Stars. As they become officially a couple, Dominic and Luke will face several incidents — a scandal, a third party, and disapproval from parents — that will test them and their relationship.

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The first Filipino Boys’ Love (BL) movie, The Boy Foretold by the Stars, which premiered at the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival on 25 December 2020, now has a sequel in television series form, Love Beneath the Stars, which will start streaming on 16 August on the platform iWantTFC.

The original movie, which won Second Best Picture at the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival, is a coming-of-age story of gay Dominic Cruz and varsity basketball player Luke Armada, both senior students in an all-boys high school. Luke, who recently broke up with his girlfriend, joins a religious retreat, where he meets Adrian, who was told by a fortune teller that he is about to meet his soulmate and was given three signs to identify that person.

Luke and Adrian hit if off immediately and start having deeper feelings for each other. The fortuneteller’s three signs apparently point to Luke.

The series, which only has a limited six episodes, now tackle gender and sexuality more deeply than the movie, and involves a bigger world, including family and school. From the movie’s theme of destiny, the series deals with commitment.

Although The Boy Foretold by the Stars fit into the mold of the BL subgenre, which had become hugely popular in 2020, during the lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, the film’s writer and director, Dolly Dulu, who is a transgender woman, revealed that the story started in 2010 as a play, Ang Hangal, written during college and which drew from her romantic experiences.

Because of the robust reception of The Boy Foretold by the Stars and fan requests, the film producers, Derick Cabrido and actor Jodi Santa Maria of Clever Minds, decided to make a sequel, Love Beneath the Stars, as a digital television series, now in co-production with Dreamscape Entertainment, one of the divisions of ABS-CBN Corporation.

In the sequel, Luke and Dominic officially become a couple and face several challenges.

Theater actor Adrian Lindayag and model Keann Johnson reprise their roles as Dominic and Luke, respectively. Still written and directed by Dulu, Love Beneath the Stars directly continues their story as they become officially a couple and face several incidents that will test them and their relationship.

Dominic forms a friendship with a schoolmate, Gio (Vaughn Piczon), which becomes deeper and causes tension between him and Luke. But Dominic and Luke will face a much bigger problem, which starts when they attend their graduation ball and kiss in public. This incident and their relationship cause an uproar at the conservative Catholic school. Dominic’s parents (Agot Isidro and Romnick Sarmenta) become worried about and disapprove his relationship with Luke.

The series, which only has a limited six episodes, now tackle gender and sexuality more deeply than the movie, and involves a bigger world, including family and school. From the movie’s theme of destiny, the series deals with commitment. For Dulu, this is her first time to create a series, a format she believes will allow the characters to be revealed more, so that viewers can relate more.

Growing up in a conservative environment and hating his self because his homosexuality, Lindayag is excited about the series and the emergence of the BL subgenre in general.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “Matagal na nating hihintay na makita natin ang sarili natin sa pelikula, sa TV, na na-iin-love. Matagal naman na present ang LGBT sa pelikula at TV pero parang hindi sila nabibigyan ng romcom, ng kilig story. Hinanap ko ‘yun kasi tayong mga Filipino mahilig manood ng kilig eh… And na-sasad ako na growing up na hindi napapanood ang sarili ko na kinikilig (We have waited a long time to see ourselves in movies and TV falling in love. LGTQ+ characters have been present in movies and television for a long time but they were not given a chance to have their own romcom, their kilig stories. I have been searching for something like this because Filipinos love to watch kilig… I am saddened by the fact that growing up we did not have the chance to watch ourselves tickled by love).”

Now, he is inspired by fans commenting that finally they are seeing themselves in films and television, that it is possible that even they can also have their own love stories. He hopes the series will give young people hope that a love story can also happen to them, that they also deserve to be loved.

Lindayag said that he wishes that the lack of legislation that protects the LGBTQ+ community or the SOGIESC Equality Bill will also be tackled in future BL productions.

On the other hand, Johnson felt overwhelmed to be part of the two productions and proud to be an ally. He said that the fact that a series like this can be shown is a huge step for the LGBTQ+ community and shows how evolved society is in accepting the community.

Keann Johnson and Adrian Lindayag reprise their roles as Dominic and Luke, respectively. / Photographs courtesy of Dreamscape Entertainment

“The message is still the same. The reason why we’re all doing this, why we’re all working together to really finish the series is really to send that message out there… to tell everyone that it’s okay to love someone of the same gender,” he said about the series. “And at the same time, with this series, we’re not just talking about the love between Luke and Dominic, we’re also talking about their problems outside their relationship like, for example, when it comes to family or when it comes to school, your education. For this series, the message we’re trying to send out there is we’re trying to help guide the people who are having similar situations and help them solve them through telling the story of Luke and Dominic, how Luke and Dominic solve these problems.”

Johnson added: “Love knows no gender. No one can tell you who you should or should not love. Even if fate decides that you’re not supposed to be with this person, if you genuinely love this person and you want this person to be part of your life and you know he’s going to be good for you, then by all means you should fight for it.”

Lindayag shared: “When you choose someone, you have to stick with them. The moment you choose that person, you also have to accept all the challenges that come with it. Because Dominic and Luke faced multiple challenges when they decided to choose one another.”

Love Beneath the Stars also stars Nikki Valdez as Luke’s mother, who is an understanding single parent; Victor Silayan as Luke’s coach; and Iyah Mina as a fortuneteller. While most of the cast are straight, the actors expressed that they are supportive of the LGBTQ+ community and have a deeper understanding of gender. Among the supporting cast, Isidro is very open to the LGBTQ+ community, a contrast to the character she played. She shared that she has parents who are open, two gay brothers and a lot of LGBTQ+ friends. “And I love them all,” she said.

Love Beneath the Stars begins streaming for free 16 August with new a new episode dropping every Monday. The Boy Foretold by the Stars is also currently streaming for free on iWantTFC in the Philippines on the iWantTFC app (iOs and Android) and on iwanttfc.com. Viewers can also enjoy watching iWantTFC on a bigger screen through select devices on Vewd, Roku streaming devices, Android TV, select Samsung Smart TV models, Telstra TV for global users, and VIDAA for select countries. iWantTFC is also available via Chromecast and Airplay. For the complete list of compatible devices, sign in instructions, and account activation, visit iwanttfc.com/help#tfc-on-smart-tv.

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