GMA head writer Suzette Doctolero on not casting a real Badjao to play lead role in ‘Sahaya’

/ 11:17 AM April 04, 2019
Suzette Doctolero on Sahaya

Bianca Umali as Sahaya  (Image: Instagram/@bianxa)

GMA head writer Suzette Doctolero explained why they did not cast a real Badjao for the title role of Sahaya in the network’s latest drama series, which started to air just last month.

This was after a viewer recently said on social media that the role of Sahaya would have been more suitable for Rita Gaviola, known online as “Badjao Girl,” than actress Bianca Umali.


“Undeniably na mas suitable sa kanya ang role [because] she’s been through what Badjaos experienced and are experiencing,” said the netizen (@_vnlglycine) via Twitter on April 3. “To be totally represented and empowered, it is better to make her the main [character].”

Doctolero replied to the netizen and agreed with his/her sentiments, but shared Gaviola is not yet ready for a lead role. Gaviola, however, will still have a part in “Sahaya,” as shared on her Instagram account.   

“Si Rita pa lang ang artista na Sama Dilaut pero di pa siya ready for a lead role (Rita is the only Sama Dilaut artist we have, but she is not yet ready for a lead role),” she said on April 3. 

“Also, di ko buy yung dapat Badjaw din ang artista na gaganap, kaya nga artista kasi [trained] sila na mag tackle ng iba’t ibang role. That’s their job,” she added.

(Also, I don’t buy that the artist playing the role has to be a Badjaw, that’s why they’re an artist because they’re trained to tackle different roles. That’s their job.)

Following this line of thought, Doctolero shared that if such were the case, then American actor Liam Neeson should not have been cast as Schindler in “Schindler’s List” because he is not German. 


“O di na dapat mag-aral ng iba’t ibang accent si Meryl Streep,” she further said. “Kasi di niya dapat nakuha ang mga role kasi di naman siya German, French o British kaya dapat Kano lang role niya?”

(Or Meryl Streep should not study different accents anymore. She should not have gotten different roles since she’s not German, French or British, she should only play American roles.)

It would be great if there are indigenous peoples who are artists, as per Doctolero, but used the United States as an example, where Asians have limited roles.

“Parang sa US, ang mga Asian, limitado lang ang role,” said Doctolero. “Naman! Irespeto ang trabaho ng mga artista.”

(In the US, for example, Asians have limited roles. Come on! Respect the profession of artists). 

Doctolero added artists only need to have the sensibility to understand the meaning of their role, especially if they are playing the role of an indigenous people.

“Ang kailangan lang ay sensibilidad na maintindihan ano ang role niya at sa palagay ko ay nagagampanan naman ito ng mga artista ng ‘Sahaya,’” she said.

(One needs only the sensibility to understand what his role is, and I believe the artists of ‘Sahaya’ are able to fulfill this.)

Doctolero also said it would be crazy if all their actors were indigenous people, adding that “Sahaya” is not an indie film.

“Hindi naman kami indie film, soap kami kaya need pa rin na maibenta ito (We are not an indie film, we are a soap opera and we still need to sell the show),” she said.  /ra


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TAGS: Badjao, Bianca Umali, GMA Network, indigenous peoples, Rita Gaviola, Sahaya, Suzette Doctolero
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