The month of May marked the second month of lockdown/community quarantine for us here in the Philippines, and I think it’s safe to say the otherwise calmer people I know had begun to feel agitated because of all the uncertainty. People have lost their jobs, friends and acquaintances lost their loved ones (either to COVID-19 or another disease), and the news only got worse by the day. At this point, I had begun rereading some #romanceclass books I’ve enjoyed in the past, as well as rewatching favorite films and KDramas to self-soothe after a day of shitty news.
Let it be known that I have a pretty high tolerance for stuff that are otherwise triggering, but when the production company behind Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical announced they would be streaming the musical for free on YouTube, I grew concerned. I’ve always thought that show needed trigger warnings, but even during their second and third run, they didn’t seem to bother with it. And because they were going to stream it through such a huge platform at no cost, I was afraid there would be people who’d get blindsided by that one scene.
So I posted a content warning on my Twitter account and skipped seeing the musical entirely. I also posted this:
Please please 𝗣𝗟𝗘𝗔𝗦𝗘 be more mindful of the free media you share and consume. The current socio-political/socio-economic climate has taken a toll on people's mental health. At least warn your audience of triggers your material has so they have an option to skip it.
— 𝚝 𝚊 𝚛 𝚊 🐰 𝚏 𝚛 𝚎 𝚓 𝚊 𝚜 – 𝚊 𝚕 𝚟 𝚎 𝚣 (@tarafrejas) May 7, 2020
I don’t think I’ve ever seen any tweet/s of mine get that much traction. Ever. (Which, I think, said a lot about how people in general appreciated content/trigger warnings prior to seeing a show, or consuming any form of media for that matter.)
Two weeks later, this iWant movie called Love Lockdown was released. Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited to see this one since I’ve seen the pre-prod photos floating around…mostly because one of my favorite actors is part of the cast. When I saw the poster, however, something felt off. When I saw the film’s title, I thought it would be about how people in love were dealing with the distance brought about by the Metro Manila lockdown, but man…I was so wrong.
I watched the movie and did not like it one bit. (Here’s a thread of my live tweets, with CWs and screencaps and everything.)
And then…this happened:
And the rest, they say, is history.
Writing Pio and Audrey for Hello, Ever After seemed like the most logical thing to do after *gestures above* all that frustration. In Happy Endings, Please, and Thank You, Pio, who is an actor by profession, gets an acting job despite the quarantine and the shutdown of the TV station where he works. His girlfriend, Audrey, finds out the script gets unnecessarily dark and grumbles, because really…WHY? When everything else in the world is imploding, shouldn’t we at least turn to something comforting?
Now, please don’t get me wrong: I believe everyone has the right to tell the stories they want in the manner they wish to tell them, but I also believe that as storytellers, we need to be responsible for the stories we put out in the world. At a time when some people are most vulnerable, I feel that giving them something they could turn to for solace and affirmation that things will eventually be all right would be the kindest thing to do.
Which brings me to happy endings.
Some people find romances corny and unrealistic precisely because they require happy endings, and I say…if that’s how you want to see it, then fine. These past few years of reading and writing romance and spending time with a community that basically advocates happy endings (among many other positive things), I will stand by happy-ever-afters/happy-for-nows being necessary, hopeful, and even subversive. Give me two people who learn how to love and respect each other and decide to make things work despite their differences any day and I will take it, no matter what trope it comes in. Because guess what? After a long day of work and making my tiny voice heard in an ocean of other voices, I like my quick escapes. I like thinking of a world where it’s possible to fight for something you believe in and find someone you could grow old with at the same time. Because maybe that is how some people live, and I want more of that.
Hello, Ever After Episode #4
Happy Endings, Please, and Thank You
CW: Mentions of a chronically ill parent, film script with suicide and (possible) sexual assault
(Much more fun CW: Fred and Sam’s faces.)
If you’d like to help us produce more episodes, you can do so by buying us a coffee! Thank you so much in advance! <3