Photos courtesy of iWant TV
The new iWant series, Mga Batang Poz, stands out for a number of reasons. Not only is it led by a talented young cast — comprising standout new faces and ones that might be more familiar, but haven’t really had the chance to show their chops — it also provides unprecedented and positive representation for lower classes and the LGBTQ+ community. Most important of all, it’s about people who struggle with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and its depiction of this experience, as well as the circumstances that lead to it, is handled with sensitivity and driven by the goal to inform.
Based on the novel by Segundo Matias Jr., the six-episode show is directed by Chris Martinez, who previously helmed Here Comes the Bride and Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, and stars Mark Neumann, Fino Herrera, Paolo Gumabao, and Awra Briguela. It centers around four teenagers from different socioeconomic backgrounds who are diagnosed HIV-positive. They meet on an online support group and decide to go on a road trip, and the film follows them as they manage their affliction, brave the social stigma and isolation, and lean on each other and their families and friends for love, courage, hope, and understanding. Think Rent meets Skins meets Red Band Society, but entirely our own.
“Hindi siya basta series, advocacy siya,” says Awra, who adds that because of its taboo topic and the reluctance of mainstream Filipino media to take risks on what might not sell, it wasn’t that easy to get it off the ground.
“There are advocacy movies na very watered down, pero gusto pa rin nilang i-instill ‘yung message,” Mark chimes in. “Here, we went full-on, in-your-face. Straight to the point na: ‘Ito ang pinagdadaanan ng mga tao, o ginagawa ng mga bata.’ Kaya nangyayari, kasi walang awareness, walang knowledge, walang control.”