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Pushing truths about HIV

"Abstinence. Use protection. Be God-centered," lead actor Mike Tan authoritatively shares in a mild voice in the role of Marco Angeles.
The character talks about how to avoid the dreaded social disease HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the subject of the GMA 7's new advocaserye on Afternoon Prime, Hindi Ko Kayang Iwan Ka, to pilot on February 26, after The Stepsisters. The new series is directed by Neal del Rosario with Roy Iglesias as creative director.
Although wearing a wedding band during the grand press conference, Mike stays super secretive that he had married longtime, non-showbiz girlfriend Cris on January 22, 2018, in Rodriguez, Rizal. She requested him not to talk about it during the media huddle.
The grand presscon went on like clockwork, without the usual rush and push associated with such an event. Cast members entered the venue distributing red wristbands to invitees before taking their assigned seats at the presidential table. Hindi Ko Kayang Iwan Ka was previewed showing the clean videography and clear narrative with their exciting dramatic moments. The open forum opened and ended with me wishing for it to go on some more.

Stars and their stripes
Mike, Yasmien Kurdi as Thea Balagtas, Jackie Rice as Ava Imperial and mentor Ms. Gina Alajar as Donya Adelaida "Adele" Angeles as headliners make it appear like an alumni reunion of StarStruck, GMA 7's lauded star reality search.
"No, we weren't conscious of designing the series as a reunion of sorts of StarStruck alumni," clarifies Roy, a classmate of mine at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
"I guess with the passage of time, they have already lost the Starstruck label so that their origin no longer matters in our casting decision and that what is already our prime consideration is their thespic skills and experience that they can bring to the table," adds Roy.
Yasmien plays a simple provincial girl with a promising career as a public accountant. She falls in love with Marco and marries him. Eventually, they are blessed with fraternal twins whom they love very much.
"Tutok po ako dito sa first-ever advocaserye ng GMA Network tungkol sa HIV na nakakalungkot malaman na ang Filipinas ang number one na may kasong ganito. Part na ako ng advocacy na ito dahil gusto kong i-impart sa mga manonood kung ano talaga ang HIV. Hindi po dapat ipagwalang-bahala ng bawat pamilya ang kasong ito dahil sa findings ngayon ang babata pa — 13 to14 years old, may HIV na," Yasmien explains her commitment to the show.
"Ito ‘yung nakikipag-sex without protection at too late na para malaman nilang nasalinan sila ng HIV virus. Ten years ago pa, tinawagan na ako para sumali sa advocacy na ito. Tinanggap ko agad ito lalo ngayon na may asawa at anak na ako at gusto kong malaman kung paano ko ii-explain ito sa mag-ama ko at sa family ko, lalo na ang daddy ko na napaka-conservative na akala niya kung ano ang nakikita niya sa TV na role ko, naniniwala siya," she adds.
Mike, a handsome and charming lad who falls in love with Thea and marries her despite his mother's refusal, remains independent and grounded even though he was born rich.
Jackie is Ava Imperial, Marco's beautiful and socialite ex-girlfriend. She shuffles to and from the United States for pleasure and business. Even though she flirts around, she is still bent on settling with Marco.
For sure, Martin del Rosario as Lawrence de Leon is a network shifter who found his well-deserved stardom in the Kapuso network. He had to lose weight to couple his acting mettle with the appropriate look of a covert HIV sufferer.
Martin is Thea's college friend from a well-off family. Secretly, he is in love with her even though he dates a lot of women and develops HIV from this.
Gina is happy to be able to act again and not be helming a series. She misses bonding with her co-actors including daughter Ina Feleo, who is Sofia Angeles in the series. Her responsibility is bigger as a director. As an actor, she just follows what the director asks her to do .
The series aims to raise HIV awareness and educate viewers on its effects upon a person's life through an intriguing drama--that even in our weaknesses, strength can be found if we only rise and have the courage to fight for our loved ones and ourselves.
Hindi Ko Kayang Iwan Ka follows the life of Thea, whose blissful life after marrying Marco and raising their fraternal twins together, shatters when she tests positive for HIV, Because she does not know who she got it from, Marco is led to believe that she cheated on him and files for legal separation, taking their kids with him. Her disease worsens and she loses her will to live. When she unexpectedly meets her daughter a few years later, she finds it in herself to fight more than just HIV — her greatest opponent, herself.
The supporting cast brings to life this revealing drama are made up Charee Pineda as Rosanna "Anna" Balagtas, Seth dela Cruz as Maurice B. Angeles, Caprice Cayetano as Angela B. Angeles, Mike "Pekto" Nacua as Tantoy Cruz, Sharmaine Buencamino as Magdalena "Magda" Balagtas, and Catherine Rem as Olga Cruz.

Shattering myths
"We consciously did not use gays as lead characters because we wanted to shatter the myth that HIV/AIDS is an exclusively gay disease," explained Roy.
Hindi Ko Kayang Iwan Ka brings to light the struggles of a woman who is HIV positive and how she battles her own frailties and demons in life.
An old buzz leaked that Hindi Ko Kayang Iwan Ka was inspired by the story of Ma. Dolzura Cortez, the first Filipino AIDS victim who came out in the open to tell about her life and how she acquired the AIDS virus. She died in 1992. Her story made it into the big screen, The Dolzura Cortez Story, megged by Laurice Guillen.
This first movie on AIDS provided "a name and a face" for the 50 recorded lives that were lost to AIDS in 1992. It was used as a focus of discussion by some health care personnel to express their thoughts, opinions and recommendations regarding the use of cinema as a powerful tool for AIDS information dissemination.
Roy also explained they did not use the story of a real HIV sufferer because that would be tantamount to invasion of privacy plus the need to go through the difficult process of getting the consent of other people who may be closely related to the person's story.
"Also, by not using an individual person's life story, we're free to include other issues related to the HIV condition that may not be found in just one case or subject," the creative director adds. "By fictionalizing the character, we come up with a composite of other cases, something that we cannot do when we are boxed in by a single case."

Honoring direk Maryo
delos Reyes
Roy's official position at the Kapuso network is creative director for Drama. Part of his duties is to help develop and appraise all drama shows — soap opera and anthology. It is different from creative consultant as there are a lot of creative consultants in the Drama Group.
"Each show is under a consultant," points out Roy.
Director Maryo delos Reyes, who passed away this year due to a heart attack was the original director of Hindi Ko Kayang Iwan Ka. His suggestions for the revisions on the first draft script were followed, which found their way to the pilot show.
Many have contributed to the success of GMA Network today, but Direk Maryo's contribution has a lasting impact. "He was instrumental in the development of our talents. He handled shows that brought honor to the Network, such as Magdusa Ka and Someone to Watch Over Me, both of which were cited abroad in international TV competitions," Roy explains.
His name lent prestige to the Network. Not many know that he was the only senior veteran director of the network.
"As I said in my eulogy, his death — following those of Gil Portes, Soxie Topacio and lately followed by Argel Joseph — seemed to signal the beginning of the end of an era in Philippine TV and film history," Roy pays tribute.
GMA Network proudly unveils its first-ever advocaserye in Hindi Ko Kayang Iwan Ka on Afternoon Prime on Monday, February 26.

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