When TBA Studios shared to us the first episode of ‘Taguan’, it piqued our interest, enough to stick with it through its now-three episode arc.
In hindsight, it was an easy choice to give the series a look, seeing as its produced by the same studio behind hits such as Heneral Luna and I’m Drunk I Love You. The concept of a Zoom-based show is also relatively new as of writing, complemented by the natural back-and-forths between leads Gabby Padilla (Billie and Emma, Dead Kids) and Carlo Cruz (Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral).
But what started out as a light-hearted watch about a boy and a girl sharing their hidden feelings became something a little bit… more by its 3rd episode. Titled ‘Horny’, the pair talk about feeling deprived of physical interaction. And they don’t exactly hold back.
Where else does an episode open with its leads watching hentai or Gabby’s Lyka bemoaning how much she misses sex and being eaten out. Or how Carlo’s Oliver struggles with sexting. Certainly not in the Filipino setting, where discussions about sex, while having greatly progressed over the years, still merit an eyebrow-raise or two.
But the great thing about Taguan is that it does not hypersexualize the topic by having its two horny adults relentlessly pour on the innuendos, despite the implied feelings that they have for each other.
The topic is instead naturally brought up on the road towards a bigger reality: We all miss genuine physical connections. As Lyka puts it ‘In an instant, the world went cold turkey’.
In a snap, intimate acts such as sex, hugs, kisses and besos are now discouraged and laced with fear, and will continue to be even long after COVID-19 is gone. We are now trying to cope with the loss in our own ways, which can manifest in sexual fantasies, self-pleasure, or sexting a match on Bumble.
Taguan tells us that there is – and should be – nothing wrong with that.
We caught up with Gabby Padilla and Carlo Cruz to talk more about Zoom-bombing moms, progressive lolas, and ‘pasabogs’.
The series has been praised for being ‘genuine’ and ‘casual’. Is shooting on Zoom as easygoing as it looks?
Carlo: I think it’s more of the writing and the direction of the series that created the ‘natural’ vibe. Otherwise, it’s like a normal shooting day, just that your space is very limited.
Gabby: It did feel more intimate for me because me and Carlo we’re essentially having a conversation. What you see on screen is how it was shot exactly. It helps create that intimate vibe.
What is the best and worst thing about doing a shoot in your bedroom? Like, has your mom ever walked in during a scene?
Gabby: My mom walked in on us during ‘Horny’, which was kinda weird. I was supposed to say ‘I miss sex. I miss being eaten out’ and then my mom walks in ‘O, hindi pa kayo tapos?’. It was funny (chuckles).
But otherwise, I love the shoot-from-home kind of thing. I could get used to it.
Carlo: I guess the most challenging part is designing your room, doing your own lighting, acting as your own cinematographer. Buti na lang I don’t have a lot of furniture to move around.
How did it feel to be a part of something that tackles a still relatively-taboo topic?
Carlo: To be honest, when I initially read and shot the script, it felt a bit uncomfortable knowing a wide audience is gonna see it.
But eventually, the discomfort became a good thing. I know that we were bringing up an important topic for discussion, something that’s very natural. I’m happy that it’s been received well.
Gabby: It was refreshing, especially to play as a woman that can own her sexuality without it being over-romanticized either. That’s what I loved most about it.
And the way people responded to it made me realize that we’re still not used to talking about sex in a casual manner. To give our audience that outlet is something I’m proud of.
How do you get over those ‘OMG, what if my mom/lolo sees this’ concerns?
Gabby: (laughs) My mom has seen it and she’s pretty cool about it. She kinda just ignores it, she hasn’t mentioned it, like the elephant in the room.
Wala eh, at the end of the day, we’re two adults and it comes with the job. It comes down to finding work that tackles these kinds of topics in an intelligent and not-so-crass way.
Carlo: It’s so funny because they were the two people I was exactly thinking about. They saw it and went ‘Wow, that’s really good! It’s not something we would’ve done before, but it’s great that it’s now happening.’
I honestly didn’t expect that kind of reaction. (Gabby interjects: ‘that’s great, in fairness!’)
(To Gabby) So far, you’ve been the pregnant schoolgirl Emma (Billie & Emma), the feisty Yssa (Dead Kids), and now, the authentic Lyka.
Is there a personal thrill in doing roles that challenge gender tropes?
Gabby: I do find it more fun and interesting to play women that have something to say, or who have an actual purpose in the story. Not just one-dimensional characters to further the plot.
It feels great to play those roles, because it just shows that we’re heading in a direction where we’re giving more chances to women and LGBTQ writers to have their voices heard.
(To Carlo) Indie projects are gaining relevancy thanks to streaming sites such as Netflix.
As an actor that has worked abroad, what is the one thing that foreign cinema could learn from our local industry, if given the chance?
Carlo: Wow, that’s a really good question. I think we, Filipinos, have this attitude where, even if we have limited resources, as long as we have a good idea, we’ll find a way to make it happen.
This series is a great example of that. Despite the limitations due to COVID, plus Gabby being in the Philippines, and me being in the States, it still happened.
Without spoilers, are we headed for more eyebrow-raising moments in Taguan’s last 3 episodes?
Carlo: For Episode 4 and beyond, I think there will be more relatable topics that will have the audience asking themselves and the people they care about.
Gabby: It’s safe to say that Episode 3 is the most NSFW. As for if there are going to be more ‘pasabogs’…there’s still going to be a lot more profanity, that’s the most I can say (laughs)