TV5 continues its quest to gain ground on the two Philippine television behemoths. A couple of months into its “vertical programming” primetime scheduling format, TV5 still has a ways to go. But in the process of introducing its radical (for Philippine television) programming strategy, the network has been able to also introduce some creative and fresh programs.
The latest is the network’s charming and fun series Beki Boxer.
Described as a comedy with heart, Beki Boxer tells the story of Rocky, a young closeted gay man who is determined to win back his family’s honor and reputation by becoming a champion boxer.
While Rocky has always been more interested in the Miss Universe pageant and Barbies than GI Joes, he’s also always looked up to his father who was once a champion boxer himself. But one fight changed that all. Suspected of throwing the fight, Rocky’s father went from local hero to laughing stock overnight. And since then, their family’s been looked down upon and insulted.
Rocky can’t take the ridicule any longer and decides to fight for a championship belt rather than a beauty pageant crown to return honor to the family.
In its first week, we meet Rocky, his family, friends and the handsome guy that becomes another extra bit of inspiration for his dreams.
Alwyn Uytingco should have no trouble in the title role as Rocky. Already an experienced actor who’s been in the business for at least 15 years, Alwyn has shown great versatility in a wide variety of roles. But maybe his most well-known role is that of the gay, flamboyant and often scene stealing Pip in the blockbuster Ang Tanging Ina movie series which earned him a Supporting Actor nomination at the Metro Manila Film Festival.
Alwyn is definitely no stranger to gay roles, so that experience helps him comfortably carry his first title role with ease. It’s been a long time coming for him and Beki Boxer provides a showcase for both his comedic and dramatic chops.
Beki Boxer may be a comedy at its core, but it’s still a distinctly Filipino drama. Sure there are plenty of laughs, but Rocky’s desire to restore his family’s honor is sincere. That’s where the heart comes in. The series is a good ol’ family drama that can make you laugh and cry at the same time. Throw in some boxing training and fight scenes and you’ve got something for everyone.
My Husband’s Lover definitely made waves last year by unflinchingly portraying a gay relationship. And there are some petty network loyalists trying to compare it with Beki Boxer. But they are completely different animals.
Rocky’s secretly in love with Atong (Vin Abrenica), another aspiring boxer who’s hunky and macho, but who is maybe hiding in the closet too. (He does say his ideal type is someone who can “accept me for who I really am.” *wink*wink*)
Rocky having to keep his fabulous side on the down-low, even from his mother who is merely waiting for him to officially confirm he has a “soft heart,” while also pining for and imagining romantic adventures with his training buddy and new friend is a much different, yet still effective way of portraying a gay character on Philippine TV.
Like My Husband’s Lover showed that gay men aren’t only flamboyant cross-dressing club performers, Beki Boxer has an opportunity to show that even a “softer,” cross-dressing gay man can excel in the very macho and tough world of a sport like boxing. We already see Rocky has great potential and may have just inherited his father’s championship skill.
So the possibility of him training for and winning that championship belt while still practicing Miss Universe poses at home or dancing fiercely at the local comedy bar is an incredibly refreshing and interesting proposition.
Alwyn is supported by a well-rounded cast. Vin Abrenica has come a long way from his Artista Academy win. His acting breakthrough in last year’s solid Misibis Bay shows he’s on the right track. And if he really is locked in for the upcoming Baker King adaptation, his growth as an actor is very welcome news. He and Alwyn have a great chemistry that helps push that romantic angle. And with the help of a solid script, Vin is able to maintain Atong’s interesting ambiguity.
Christian Vasquez and Candy Pangilinan as Rocky’s parents are more than experienced. And here, they are actually able to tackle different roles than they are used to being cast in; Crazed maniac for Christian Vasquez and loud, annoying sidekick for Candy Pangilinan. And it’s great to see Joross Gamboa absolutely play up Rocky’s fab out and proud “bes” friend Madonna.
Beki Boxer has an opportunity to be many things. In a highbrow sort of way, it can continue the strides made in bringing better portrayals of the LGBT community in Philippine entertainment. But more likely and reasonable, it can continue the strides TV5 has made in presenting fresh and different stories that set themselves apart from anything the other networks are offering.
Beki Boxer has shown to be a fun and hilariously charming little series that really does aim to have plenty of heart to go along with the abundant laughs.