A new Boys Love (BL) series, produced by Southeast Asia’s first blockchain-enabled ticketing platform, Ticket2Me, entitled Boys’ Lockdown is set to capture the hearts of the Filipino BL audience.
The upcoming online series Boys’ Lockdown is top-billed by promising actors Alec Kevin and Ali King who will play the characters of Chen Chavez and Key Kalunsod respectively.
Pikapika.ph got the chance to talk to the boys to get to know them better and to get some insights regarding this new Pinoy BL series.
Technically, Alec Kevin is not new when it comes to portraying characters in front of the camera or performing in front of audiences.
Performing onscreen and in front of a crowd is not really new for this fresh Applied Physics graduate from the University of the Philippines. He has already starred in a short film, called Fish Out of Water, which is an award-winning short entry in the 2016 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. Also, during his student days, he was a member of the school-based hip-hop dance group, UP Street.
"Nu'ng first year [college] ako, I joined UP Street [Dance Club]," Alec recalls. "Street dancer po ako, hip-hop dancer. Doon ko din na-meet 'yong director for my short film. So, nagkaroon po ako ng short film stint before."
Admittedly a movie geek and a photography aficionado, Alec, says his experience in Fish Out of Water gave him a deeper appreciation of the film production process.
“Sobrang thankful ako for the opportunity because prior to that I really had a different perspective or the way I saw films was totally different prior to that,” he explains. “S'yempre, wala pa kasi akong experience on how to make them. But then, after that, because of the experience, doon po na-open 'yong mind... Parang I had a deeper appreciation of films. Mas lalo kong na-appreciate kung bakit may mga ganitong type of shots, may ganitong mga types of stories...
“Tapos doon po talaga mas na-hone or mas nagkaroon ng improvement when it comes to my passion for acting for the story. It made me confident, and at the same time na even through acting, it can give you a platform or way to tell, express stories, ideas, love, and whatnot.”
And given the fact that he already has experience in film production, he didn’t think twice about grabbing the chance to star in an online series.
"Recently, since pa-tapos na po ako ng college, sakto, nagkaroon ng Boys’ Lockdown casting call. Nakita ko 'yong post so, kinuha ko kaagad 'yong opportunity."
The newbie actor, who’s also into modeling and brand endorsement, is also one well-travelled fellow. He’s seen the world—Europe, Japan, UAE—and how?
"Nanalo kami [ng] trip to somewhere [promos],” he reveals laughing. “Ayon po. Twice na yata ako nanalo ng trip to somewhere."
Once the travel restrictions are lifted after the pandemic, he says he wants to revisit Japan.
"Sobrang nami-miss ko na po [mag-travel]," he says. "I have relatives in Japan, though I'm not Japanese po. I just have relatives there. I miss them now so, siguro one of my first few countries na gusto ko talaga i-visit after the pandemic is Japan."
He is also looking forward to visiting European countries again this coming holiday season.
"Actually, [after] graduation dapat,” Alec shares. "Dapat magyu-Europe ulit kami. Sayang. Ayon nga, since nagka-pandemic, nagka-lockdown, quarantine...so we weren't able to do it.
"Hopefully po talaga, [this] holiday [season], or December or January, maka-lipad na, maka-alis na, maka-fly na uli. Siguro kasama sila Ali, Boys’ Lockdown [team], tapos gawa kami ng mga videos doon."
Ali King may be a familiar face in social media especially because he has actively vlogging on YouTube even before the pandemic.
But prior to joining the cast of Boys’ Lockdown, Ali worked in an advertising company in Makati. In between work—in a work-from-home set-up—Ali creates contents for his vlog. It was through his vlog that he caught the attention of the people from Ticket2Me.
"Nu'ng nagkaroon ng COVID, bumalik ako sa Novaliches kasi I’m from Quezon City talaga," Ali shares. "So, work from home, active ako online, and fortunately, doon ako nakita ng mga tao ng Ticket2me and they contacted me and the rest is history."
This Korean-looking Tourism Management graduate said he had plans of pursuing a career in the aviation industry. Sadly, it did not happen because of the global lockdown due to the COVID-19 threat. However, he is very much thankful to be part of the online series, which he considers to be an even bigger blessing.
"It's nice pa rin kasi kahit na hindi natupad 'yong dream ko na 'yon napunta ako sa Boys’ Lockdown which is much bigger blessing for me."
Asked to spell the difference between acting and vlogging, the two world he now loves and embraces, Ali says:
"Para silang apples and oranges," he muses. "Nakakatuwa [kasi] when I vlog, I’m Ali King and I like how people say na I’m very organic kapag nagba-vlog ako, kapag kausap ko ’yong ibang tao kahit kausap ko lang 'yong camera.
"And it's different din when it comes to acting kasi nu'ng umaarte ako hindi ako si Ali," he continues. "Ako si Key. And ibang tao ako when I act, when I tell stories, and I think that goes with acting."
But through BL, he says he’s able to combine both somehow.
“Doon [sa vlogging] ako humuhugot ng confidence ko,” he admits. “For example, sometimes, when I read the script and medyo mahaba 'yong lines, I say it the way na parang, 'Pa'no ko kaya ito sasabihin sa isang vlog?' And nakakatuwa kasi napapansin nila I say it so naturally, ganu'n.
“Pero sa vlog kasi medyo different kasi ina-acknowledge [mo] 'yong camera. Pero it helped din kasi nawala na din 'yong pagiging camera-shy ko nu'ng nagstart akong mag-vlog. Nasanay na ako na may camera sa harap.
“The only difference that I have to do was to imagine na wala 'yong camera and just imagine-in ko na lang na, 'Sige, mag-isa ako dito. Wala akong kasama. But I'm still vlogging.' Ganu'n ko s'ya ini-interpret sa isip ko habang nagti-take kami for the series.”
One more interesting thing about Ali is his Instagram username @rafiecake.
"Kasi nu'ng college po ako, nag-o-orgs ako," he recalls. "So, 'yong organizations ko binigay sa akin 'yong nickname na Rafie, so, doon ko nakuha 'yong Rafie na 'yon.
"So, since college, hindi na s'ya nawala kasi 'yong Rafiecake is parang pa-cute lang s'ya na nickname."
But now, he is using his name Ali [from his real name Alonzo] as his screen name.
"So, nickname ko talaga s'ya in real life ta’s ginawa ko lang s'yang screen name for people to easily remember my name. It's just a short name na people can call me na mas madali instead of Alonzo.”
Initially, did you see yourselves starring in a BL series?
Ali: To be honest po, no ako. Kasi I don’t have any acting experience before. Parang sobrang tira sa buwan lang na, 'Sige nga, I’ll apply for this' kahit na nasa isip ko na hindi naman ako matatanggap kasi ano bang laban ko sa ibang may experience na?
Ang daming mas gwapo, ang daming mas batikan kesa sa akin kaya I would never have thought na tatanggapin nila ako for this show.
Alec: Same po. Likewise. I didn't expect that I'll be in this kind of project. But how I see it, parang... siguro po, 'pag sa acting po, I just thought of it generally, in a broader sense na I wasn't able to think of it specifically...na specifically magkakaroon ako ng BL [series].
I've always imagined lang po na magkakaroon ako ng another way to tell another story or magk’wento ulit through films or movies. But not BL in particular and not limited to BL. Ayon, thankful po ako. Thankful kami ni Ali na our producers trusted us with the project kahit relatively new po talaga kami. Thankful lang talaga kami.
What did you think were your edge from among the rest who auditioned that you now have the parts?
Ali: For me po, ewan ko kay Alec kung same ba [kami], but I won't be here kung hindi si Alec 'yong pinili nila.
Alec: Clingy kasi 'yan, e. Joke lang.
Ali: For me po kasi, sobrang nag-click 'yong chemistry namin ni Alec and I guess kung hindi nila 'yon nakita nila Sir Darwin [the producer] since day one, I don’t think they will accept me. And I don’t know kung ganu'n din 'yong pag-iisip ni Alec, but for me talaga, wala ako dito kung 'yong chemistry ni Alec hindi nag-match sa energy and sa vibe ko.
Alec: I agree po. Aside from us doing our best during the auditions and sa mga Zoom calls, Zoom auditions namin and sa mga videos na pinadala namin, I’m thankful po na first meeting pa lang namin with Ali through Zoom, pina-improv kami agad and then 'yong personalities namin nag-match agad, nag-click agad. I think that really is a big part of how and why we are here right now.
Ali: Adding po sa mga sinabi ni Alec, it's good din na parang lahat kami fresh faces. So, parang wala pa kaming major series or movie na parang pinagbidahan kaya it's good to see fresh faces sa camera, sa TV or sa kahit anong series na napapanood natin ngayong pandemic.
Do you find similar traits between you and your character?
Alec: To start po, initially, 'yong process ko po is to find similarities para madaling ma-act out or mas madaling ma-play 'yong role. But eventually, as we went into the process, [no’ng] mas matagal na kami nag-read, mas na matagal namin na-research 'yong characters, I would say... mas marami actually na differences si Chen kay Alec. Ayon po kasi totally different characters po. Totally different person so ang hirap po talaga na... And then, doon ko pa na- realize na, 'Ay, iba pala talaga si Chen.'
I think, if I were to answer talaga, siguro magaling sumayaw, or parang... I mean, hindi magaling sumayaw, sumasayaw pala. Sumasayaw. Kasi for me without spoiling, Chen's character talaga parang malaki talaga 'yong difference namin.
Ali: Pero I think din, parang medyo matagal ko din inisip, e, kung ano ba 'yong similarity ko kay Key. Medyo konti lang but 'yong similarities ko kay Key, with my character, would be 'yong love for his friends. Kasi super close s'ya with his best friends and makikita ninyo 'yon how it progresses, 'yong roles sa series kaya you have to watch out for that po.
What are the adjustments you made for your roles as Key and Chen?
Ali: Ako po, medyo inayos ko po 'yong state of mind na, 'Okay, aarte ako. I have do to my best. I have to portray someone na hindi ako.’ Kasi it's my first time and to be honest, sobrang lost ako noong una kasi I don’t know how to portray someone else and hindi ako magaling sa memorization.
Ang daming aspects akong kailangan paghandaan noong start pero over time, nu'ng tumagal na din, na-realize ko na it's going to be... Nu'ng nand'yan na sila Alec and my other co-stars, naging mas madali and it became so much fun, especially noong nagwo-workshop na kami. Mas nagiging comfortable na kami sa isa’t isa.
Alec: Personally, it was really hard for me. It was relatively hard for me because, kasi 'yon nga, different kami ng personalities [ni Chen]. So, what did, I had to research. I had to watch other films or movies to have better glimpse of the character and at the same time, yes, I would agree...
Sobrang thankful ako with Ali, with my co-workers, with my co-actors kasi through our connection, our relationship, we we're able to develop more into the character. Mas malawak, mas naging deeper 'yong relationship namin, 'yong understanding namin with their help. Kasi we had time, workshops with our co-actors. Mas na-develop 'yong psyche or personality talaga nu'ng character.
What did you do to build your chemistry for the Boys’ Lockdown?
Ali: Medyo mahirap nga po. Sinabi rin sa amin na hindi namin s'ya kayang i-fake. So, we can't fake it. Hindi s'ya p'wedeng dayain onscreen kasi makikita ng mga tao kung totoo ba o hindi. It's nice na kahit madami kaming differences ni Alec, nakakatuwa na parang nakahanap kami ng common ground without it being too forceful.
And nakatulong din nang malaki 'yong pag-showcase namin ng fan service shows sa Ticket2Me YouTube channels. Madaming ‘Lockdown Eats’ na nagmu-mukbang kami ni Alec tapos pinag-uusapan namin 'yong skincare [routine] namin... which is nice kasi hindi lang s'ya pang-grow ng fanbase namin and for the project but also 'yong friendship namin ni Alec mas nag-grow and doon kami mas naging comfortable with each other talaga.
Alec: Yes, I agree po. Since this was our first time... Kasi po nu'ng pinaka-first time namin, I'm thankful na nagkaroon agad kami ng relationship or connection with each other. 'Yon pa lang, at the very base level...but what improved it more were the fan service shows, the workshop, 'yong friendship. I think 'yon po talaga 'yong pinaka-importante na we were able to be honest with each other. Forward... Naging mas open kami and at the same time, nandu'n pa rin 'yong professional relationship so sobrang thankful lang po talaga kami.
What makes Boys’ Lockdown unique from other BL series?
Alec: Well, to begin with, Boys’ Lockdown is about the love story between Key and Chen. But not only that. We were able to incorporate other characters which made... Parang in a way, connected or affected the relationship of Key and Chen. And at the same time, nasa lockdown s'ya. Aside from the big part [of] Key and Chen, merong mga other characters which made the story more colorful and more interesting.
Ali: To add to that din, aside from pag-i-incorporate namin ng other characters, each has their own problems they have to face. So, parang it mirrors din na kahit nasa pandemic tayo, iba-iba pa rin 'yong challenges na pini-face natin.
Even though it focuses on Key and Chen, the other characters din they have their stories to tell which makes it more meaningful to the point na parang it's more than just a love story. It is, pero it encapsulates something more. That’s why we're so proud of this BL series.
What lessons did you pick up while filming the series?
Alec: Sobrang dami. Marami kaming lessons na natutunan, learning from the characters... One major thing would be, I think that, we made believe that whatever might happen with whatever happening around us, with the pandemic, in the end, it made me believe that one of the major things that could help us go through pandemic is love.
Ayon, aside from that po, I learned a lot from my co-actors, Ali most especially. I learned how to... Me po kasi, being an introvert, I learned a lot on how to deal with other people, connect to other people. Not just only me. It opened my circle, my comfortable space, to a broader number of people. So, for that po, thankful din ako.
Ali: Well, for me po, 'yong mga lessons na na-learn ko, more on myself growth din. And parang slowly, na-realize ko I want to be part of this industry kasi doon ko lang na-realize na parang it's so good.
Everyone is so creative. Everyone does their job so good to the point na parang nai-inspire na din ako. Not only sa cast members namin but also sa prod, staff, like everyone. Kaya doon ko natutunan na it's more than just the actors. We should shed light on the prod team kasi, for me, they're the real stars of each show.
What was the reaction of your respective families and friends about this project?
Ali: Actually po, I think, I can say the same din for Alec. Our friends have been very supportive in our career choices and whatever is happening in our life... It's so nice to have friends na very helpful and very supportive.
Alec: I agree. I agree with Ali. And at the same time, I will add po na I'm really thankful the people that's around us who trust us enough talaga na what we're doing is for the acting, 'cause we love doing this. We love the art. It's for the art. So, thanks sa binibigay [na support] ng friends ko and my family. They know na I know what I'm doing and it's for the arts po talaga.
What are your realizations now about Boys Love or LGBT-themed stories?
Ali: For me po, I’ve been watching BL since 2017 so medyo aware na ako sa genre na 'yon. But it’s so nice din to see 'yong commercials ng BL nakikita ko sa TV. Nakakatuwa na parang it’s slowly being accepted, little by little. And I'm so excited din sa time na it's normalized and not tinatago pa. May acceptance na din from the community...
Alec: What I learned po was that I'm thankful we get to represent a lot of voices, a lot of people, certain groups, or the majority in general. And I'm also thankful na merong ganito because it allows us to be more open not only mentally or parang mga issues lang. But artistically, it opens doors kung ano pa 'yong p'wede nating ma-acquire or magawa or ma-improve artistically.
Before we weren't able to do films like this. Hindi tayo masyado nakakagawa ng ganitong mga topics. But through this, through these projects, mas nabo-broaden talaga 'yong opportunities and possibilities kung ano pa 'yong p'wedeng mak'wento kasi marami pa talagang mga stories na hindi pa nakik'wento or hindi pa nasasabi. So through this, sana mas ma-open pa, mas ma-broaden 'yong perspective.
How do you handle bashings and online negativity?
Ali: Before, noong nagkakaroon na ako ng number of followers sa Twitter, nagkakaroon ako ng parang hater na parang... May isang nagsabi sa akin na ano daw ako... Hindi ko alam kong saan nanggaling pero may isang friend ako na nag-tweet na ako daw 'yong “flavor of the month.” Hahaha!
Tapos may nag-tweet na, “’Yong flavor of the month’ kulang sa seasoning.” Ganu'n. Nakakagulat. 'O, saan nanggaling 'yon? Bakit? Hindi kita kilala.' Nakikipag-bardagulan ako before. So, mapagpatol ako. Medyo nasanay na ako. Pero that was my first ano, e, hate tweet na parang insulting na, 'Gusto lang kitang asarin.' Pero deadma na lang sa kanya.
Alec: S'yempre, initially, it was really hard for me po or it wasn't totally different for me because I wasn't really the type that opens up. 'Di ako masyadong active socially...social media-wise.
At first, it was really hard for me. Parang, why they are even spreading hate or why they even do that? But at the end, parang eventually, I learned to be entertained by it na lang.
Actually now, mas natatawa ako more than feeling bad because... wala lang. I'm more entertained now by those kinds of tweets or kinds of comments rather than being sad. I learned to trust myself, to look into myself na what I really am. Parang 'yong confidence ko... I'm thankful I've guarded it with the help of the people around me, my loved ones. Na-improve 'yong mental capacity ko to accepts those kinds of words or stuff.
Do you have "quaran-fling" at this moment?
Ali: Right now talaga we're enjoying what we do. We're enjoying the interviews. We're enjoying shooting. Ganu'n. And parang, right now, doon kami focused. Hindi ko alam kay Alec ha. Ako, doon ako focused. Nakakatuwa na na-immerse ko 'yong sarili ko and ngayon lang talaga ako nagkaroon ng time for myself so I'm focusing on that.
I'm focusing on my growth and I'm focusing on what I want to do in the future. And I'm glad na parang lahat itong nangyayari right now kasi it's a good time for me to focus on myself first.
Alec: Like what Ali said, as it is, I'm thankful for what I have now. I'm just enjoying the ride, the opportunities, the experiences.
S'yempre, fresh grad. I'm on a crossroad in my life na hindi ko alam kung saan na talaga ako pupunta. But thankfully, as it is now, with what's happening with Boys’ Lockdown, it helped me to understand and focus more on the good things, 'yong mga blessings na nangyayari. So, as of now, I'm just enjoying everything.
Will you pursue joining the showbiz industry after your Boys’ Lockdown stint?
Ali: Let's see po.
Alec: Hopefully. S'yempre, hopefully. We're both hoping for the best and I see po na we're both enjoying what we're doing.
I've seen how Ali enjoys acting as well. 'Yong passion namin for telling stories is there naman po so I think no matter where it goes, I think 'yong passion namin is more important po.
Any message to your fans?
Ali: Parang hindi ko masyado ma-fathom 'yong idea na may fans kami...Ang bilis lang ng nangyayari lahat, e. Pero they've been so supportive since day one, since nu'ng nag-announce na Alec is Chen and I’m Key. Nakakatuwa kasi kung wala sila wala kami dito. And if wala 'yong mga fans na nag-share ng mga nilalabas namin every time, we won't be where we are today. So, for me, I owe them so much sa kung anong meron ako ngayon.
Alec: I'm also just thankful for them because ang sarap lang po talaga ng feeling. First time kong magka-gano'n so ang sarap pala ng feeling na I get to connect to other people as well, not just to my own circle. Sobrang thankful. All I can say is that I'm thankful and I'm full of gratitude.
CATCH the pilot episode of Boys’ Lockdown starring Alec Kevin and Ali King on October 15 via Ticket2Me online platforms.
And WATCH our full interview here: