Kasal director Ruel S. Bayani understands that people who have watched the movie have different reactions—especially in tackling the LGBT aspect of the film's story.
The film director is also aware that Derek Ramsay's character is being branded as homophobic because of what he did to Paulo Avelino's character.
In Kasal, Derek plays Wado, the ex-boyfriend of Lia (Bea Alonzo), who in turn is engaged to Philip (Paulo).
Wado discovers that Philip has a secret he has yet to tell Lia: Philip is bisexual.
For this reason, Wado made playful advances on Philip, hoping these would reveal the secret and provoke Lia to leave her fiance.
In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) on May 23, Bayani defended his movie and Derek's character against the "homophobic" comments.
The Kapamilya executive pointed out, "Iba-iba ang tao. When you make movies like this, maiintindihan mo na iba-iba ang tao.
"If you pay close attention to the movie, malalaman mo na ang motivation ni Derek ay love, hindi hatred.
"Hindi naman niya inaano si Paulo sa simula ng kwento, e. It's only when he found out.
"So doon mo malalaman na yung nangyari is conflict between two characters with obviously the same objective, to marry this woman, to have this woman as wife, so yun ang conflict ng isa pero hindi to bash him.
"[The character of] Derek was not homophobic at all, Derek was not against a particular gender. He was against him [Philip] lying to Lia and him losing Lia to someone who is lying to her.
"Yun yung idea that he is against the idea na matatalo na nga lang ako, matatalo pa ako ng isang taong may tinatago at nagsisinungaling, yun yon.
"In fact, nagdaan din siya sa sarili niyang journey when he made a lot of wrong decisions, at aware naman siya sa dulo ng movie that those decisions were wrong."
However, Bayani also stressed that he understands discussions and opinions being voiced out by those who have already seen the film.
"When you try to explore a theme, you always put extreme emotions like other characters who are judgmental, so that the characters who are more open-minded, you will have a reference of how different they are.
"Okay lang yun, konti lang naman yung nagsabi noon, e.
"Hindi issue sa akin yun, e, because iba-iba ang intindi ng iba't ibang tao sa iisang bagay, the same way that we interpret literature differently or we interpret art differently, ganun din.
"You watch something, iba-iba tayo ng nararamdaman. To some people hindi naman offensive, to some people offensive, ganun naman talaga and it is not the objective of any filmmaker na dapat uniform yung maramdaman, especially movies with delicate, sensitive themes like this."
SENSITIVE TOPIC. The sensitive issue tackled in the film was one of the reasons why Bayani decided to return to filmmaking.
It has been six years since Bayani did his last movie: One More Try starring Angel Locsin, Angelica Panganiban, Zanjoe Marudo, and Dingdong Dantes.
Since then, Bayani focused on his duties as one of ABS-CBN's business unit heads for drama.
This is why he took great care in tackling these topics in the film.
He explained, "Tanggap ko na since I work in mainstream movies, that I'll be directing this movie for Star Cinema, alam ko na may limitations yun at kita naman na sa movie, maingat at maselan.
"If you think about it: just to have a transgender father for the lead actress in Ricky Davao and a bisexual fiance in Paulo, that alone, yung combination lang na yun, hindi ito yung usual na Star Cinema movie.
"When we were starting this movie, ito na yung padulo ng pagiging managing director ni Tita Malou [Santos] and they were all into it naman.
"They just wanted me to be careful but they all liked it and they wanted to try something new. So both Tita Malou and Inang [Olive Lamasan], pareho namang gusto nilang maiba.
"So that alone is a very good indication that Star Cinema is headed towards a direction, it's a healthy development, it's a positive development na we'll see more, we'll see more of different characters and different types of relationships."
Prior to filming, Bayani made sure that Bea, Paulo, Derek, and the other cast members knew what would happen in the story.
This is the main reason why they were able to pull off the sensitive scenes in Kasal.
"It also matters that having a project like this, noong pinitch ito, alam na ng mga artista, e, na ganito yung kwento and they were not at all hesitant or anxious about it.
"They know that there are sensitive scenes and sabi ko nga sa interview before, kaya namimili ako ng mga katrabaho ko kasi ayoko rin naman noong artistang pipilitin ko pa or ang tagal ko pang papaliwanagan.
"Parang wala na akong energy for that, I need actors who are on board, who are into their craft, who are open-minded not only about their craft but about other characters that exist in the story, gaano kalalim yung understanding nila sa behavior ng iba-ibang tao and how well can we dramatize it para hindi naman kami mag misrepresent.
"That was a very important thing also that we are very careful that there is no member of the LGBT community na pinalabas kong masama.
"I wanted to be sure na hindi sasabihing, 'Kukuha-kuha lang kayo ng character na LGBT tapos ginawa niyo pang dark o black character or super flawed.' As it is, everybody's flawed in the movie, wala namang hindi."
What message does the film want to relay about the LGBT community?
He answered, "Well, ang masasagot ko lang diyan is kung ano yung sinabi ng character ni Ricky na ang mahalaga ay may kalayaan tayong pumili ng taong mamahalin natin, that the labels are not really important, the backgrounds are not really important.
"It is the freedom of choice, the power of choice that one can choose to love the most flawed person or love in the most difficult situation. Nandoon yung essence ng love."
Bayani, who also helmed the films Paano Na Kaya (2010) and No Other Woman (2011), and the teleseryes Tayong Dalawa (2009) and Budoy (2011), believes that Filipinos are now ready for these kinds of themes in Philippine mainstream cinema.
"They are capable of appreciating varied themes and they're capable of understanding the most complex characters, depende na yun sa pagkukwento, sa paglalahad.
"I don't ever want to shortchange the audience by saying ito lang ang kaya nilang intindihin o ito lang ang pwede nilang panuorin at maintindihan, parang hindi naman tama yun.
"I also want that... well if you think about it, Paulo is the first bisexual leading man as lead of a mainstream movie na hindi comedy, ha, na straight drama. Or maybe I'm wrong, baka meron na, baka hindi ko lang napanuod.
"I don't want to sound like the authority of that, so hindi importante kung he's the first or he's the only, mahalaga is people remember this kind of character and they will remember that it was in 2018 that there was this movie."