As part of their preparation for the newest show, Your Song Presents: Boystown, the all-male dance group Gigger Boys had a day of immersion at the Manila Boys Town in Parang, Marikina City.
In this activity, the members of the group—Enchong Dee, Robi Domingo, Sam Concepcion, Dino Imperial, Chris Gutierrez, AJ Perez, and Aaron Villaflor—learned a lot of things about the place and the young boys that were being taken care of inside the residential care center.
Multi-awarded swimmer Enchong Dee was surprised to see that Boys Town has an Olympic-size swimming pool. He said, "Nagulat din ako actually nung unang pagdating, yung swimming pool, 'tapos yung swimming pool nila Olympic-size, so nagulat ako."
Aside from the swimming pool, the 20 year-old actor also added that residents of Boys Town also excel in other sports.
He described, "They have soccer fields, ang laki and magandang maganda yung facility. And they're very proud of every single detail, parang kumbaga ano nila, e, pinaghirapan kasi nila 'yon, e. And kumbaga, feeling ko, lumalabas din sila, e. Kumbaga, the same with the story of Boystown, lumalabas din sila para makipag-compete sa ibang school."
AJ Perez, 16, said that through his observation with the kids of Boys Town, he was able to get ideas on how he will act as the newbie in Boystown.
He explained, "I really observed kung paano gumalaw yung mga bata dun, kung paano sila kumilos, kung paano sila mag-converse sa isa't isa. Kasi kami naman, aaminin namin, hindi kami sanay sa mga laking kanto talaga. So 'yon nga, we get to learn the craft of how a regular, how a teenage boy lives in Boys Town. Kailangan talaga namin, kumbaga ihugot yung mga emotions niya 'tapos inililipat sa scene."
Aaron Villafor, 16, and Dino Imperial, 21, shared the same observation as AJ. Although they were not able to join the group during the immersion, they experienced being a resident of Boys Town when they started taping the program.
In fact, Aaron said, "Base sa pinagshoo-shooting-an namin Boys Town, Marikina, nakita po namin kung paano yung buhay nila. May kama dun na as in plywood lang, wala siyang foam. So siyempre, sa mga eksena namin tuwing natutulog kami sa aming mga kama siyempre masakit.
"Pero besides dun sa room nila, masaya silang magkakasama dahil hindi lang pag-aaral yung natututunan nila. Natututunan din nilang magtanim, nagtatanim sila, may sports sila. So parang basically, regular ano na rin sila, nasa regular na buhay na rin sila."
The 16-year-old singer-actor Sam Concepcion was also unable to attend the immersion, but based on his conversations with the Boys Town residents during their taping, he learned, "Hindi sila lahat ng bata na gumagawa ng kalokohan. Some of them are actually very, very intelligent they just need guidance. And yun napro-provide naman ng Boys town dahil meron silang house, house parent they have two or three. Ano talaga siya, siyempre for kids, in a way, they are very blessed to have [Boys Town] na nag-aalaga sa kanila."
BREAKING MISCONCEPTIONS. Robi Domingo, 19, said that the immersion that they did in Manila Boys Town was not his first experience because he used to visit such centers for school. However, with the immersion, it broke misconceptions they held about the young men inside Boys Town.
He said, "Ngayon, because of the immersion I had with the Gigger Boys together with Direk Lino Cayetano and the staff parang nabreak yung mga taga Boys Town ibang-iba sila. Ano, 'yong parang huwag n'yong gagalitin magiging rowdy 'yan. Pero through that [immersion] nasira yung concept na iba sila.
"They are not different from who we are. 'Tapos yun, they compete even dun sa mga private schools at kadalasan nanalo sila sa mga private schools. 'Yon, masarap yung buhay nila dun. Yun ang mga natutunan ko dun is, they are privileged as we are privileged, but then again we can do something to help."
Chris Gutierrez, 16, agreed that their visit to Manila Boys Town is really a learning experience.
He said, "We have a misconception about Boys town, parang kulungan ng mga batang mga may problema, mga bad people, mga addict. Pero hindi talaga, it's more of a pamilya, it's like an orphanage or a family kasi kapag nasa labas na po sila para kasing mahahawa sila sa mga ginagawa sa labas ng mga tao. So, at least dito po, may mga mabubuting tao na nagtra-train or give guidance through sports or kahit anong bagay to take their minds [away from] doing bad things."
In conclusion, director Lino Cayetano said that the experience and the observation of the Gigger Boys are exactly the things that he and his team want to show in his comeback project Your Song Presents: Boystown.
He explained, "Ang mga nagpupunta dun yung iniiwan ng mga magulang dahil hindi nila kayang alagaan, yung mga walang magulang na nahahanap na pakalat-kalat, yun yung tinatawag nila na ‘rescued kids.' 'Tapos merong mga street kids na dinadala dun ng DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development].
"Yung sistema kasi nila dun na merong isang place na three months sila nire-rehab yun yung mga galing kalye. Sabi nga nung house parent, house parent ang tawag sa mga nag-aalaga sa kanila, e. Sabi ng house parent, may mga batang may instinct paminsan na sanay sa kalye, so they're there for three months. After n'on, nalilipat na sila sa mga cottages. So, ang ganda ng konsepto ng cottages kasi each cottage may mga fourteen kids tapos may house parent."
Learn more about Boys Town as the Gigger Boys portray some of the real cases residing inside this residential care center. Meet the boys of cottage five in Your Song Presents: Boystown. See how they interact with the outside world starting this Sunday, May 10, after ASAP '09 on ABS-CBN.
Click HERE to view photos of Boystown cast members.