Ken Chan's role in "My Special Tatay" sets off talks about mental disability
The Kapuso network seems to be gripped with a passion to explore the dramatic possibilities of characters not usually played in traditional soap operas. Take the case of Onanay! that features a “little actor” in the title role, little because Jo Berryis literally smaller than most of the adult actors and only as big as the children in the soap opera.
On Sept. 3, the network piloted another series on its afternoon block, also about a young man with Mild Intellectual Disability with Mild Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Called My Special Tatay, (by now you know why it’s titled that) who sires a prostitute a child accidentally, yet because of his helplessness in understanding and processing the circumstances surrounding the accident, he readily and happily accepts his future role as a father.
Ken Chanis the network’s logical choice in playing this highly demanding (physically) role, after he displayed his acting pliability as a transvestite in the previous Kapuso soap Destiny Rose.
In this one, he is Boyet, born with the disability and yet tries his best to be a productive member of his family and the society his family is in.
Ken feels grateful to GMA 7 for entrusting him this extraordinary project and promised to work hard.
"Nagpapasalamat po ako saGMA dahil ipinagkatiwala sa akin ang proyektong ito. Sobra po akongexcited dahil nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon na gampanan ang isa na namang napakagandang karakter. Mas doble ang kaba kofor this show dahil kailangan nating ipaintindisaviewers kung ano ba talaga ang pinagdaraanan ng mga taong mayintellectual disability," said Ken.
Watching Ken play his role in this soap brings back my mind to Sean Pennand his character Sam Dawson who has the mental capacity of seven-year old; who has a daughter with a homeless woman that abandoned her. He names her Lucy Diamond (after The Beatlessong) because he is obsessed with The Beatles. But the authorities take her away from him, so Sam fights for custody.
Also it calls to mind another show featuring an autistic doctor whose brilliance in medicine compels fellow doctors to make him stay in the hospital where he has been admitted as a resident.
In The Good Doctor, the series shows how supposedly normal practitioners of the medical profession initially are wary if the autistic medical resident (Freddie Highmore) could function well as would normal doctors.
No, I am not going to compare Ken Chan with either Sean Penn or Freddie Highmore because in Ken’s universe (the series) he is surrounded by a variety of characters that define the character he plays.
Aside from acting workshops, the talented Kapuso actor together with the production and creative teams of the soap underwent immersion to experience and understand better the condition of people with mild intellectual disability with mild autism spectrum disorder.
In the episodes that I’ve monitored, Ken Chan paints a composite portrait of young men with that kind of disability in the Philippines. He is effective and elicits empathy from the audience. He seems at home playing Boyet, mild mannered and unaffected by the people that disgrace him.
Also playing significant roles are Jestoni Alarconas Edgar Villaroman, the rich father of Boyet; Teresa Loyzagaas Olivia Salcedo-Villaroman, the domineering wife of Edgar; Carmen Sorianoas Soledad Villaroman, the conservative yet empowered mother of Edgar and grandmother of Boyet; Liletas Isay, the caring mother of Boyet; Candy Pangilinanas Chona Mariano, the cousin of Isay.
I am glad Lilet has returned to TV and playing Isay is a fitting welcome for her. She is a perfect counterpoint to the brash character played by Candy Pangilinan.
Also featuring in special guest roles are Matt Evansas young Edgar; Empress Schuckas young Isay; Valeen Montenegroas young Olivia; and Ashley Riveraas young Chona.
Despite his limitations and the judgment of the people around him, Boyet, lovingly raised by his single mother Isay (Lilet), grew up as a kind-hearted man with a positive outlook in life.