Menagerie Ang Lasalyano: Inside the never-before-seen pilot for the GE TV drama
Menagerie Ang Lasalyano: Inside the never-before-seen pilot for the GE TV drama
Ang Lasalyano: Inside the never-before-seen pilot for the GE TV drama

Drama has been a staple inside the four walls of the University—from petty block fights to full to large-scale political disputes, the latter of which almost always spills over to non-Lasallians audience. From powerful pens of persuasion to controversial political takes, each year has been nothing short of entertaining. This year’s GE is no different, serving us intrigue, tension, and memes despite the online setting. In fact, the wild twist and turns this election has taken us—mud-slinging through Freedom Wall posts, a weird onslaught of pro-Federalism trolls, and a Judiciary court case—seem to have been lifted straight from a first year film student’s drafts. 

It then comes as no surprise that art has imitated life in the form of a soap opera titled Ang Lasalyano. Initially greenlit by local TV network, Green Minded Artists, the lone pilot episode was based on the events of the recently-concluded Make-up Elections 2021 and was promptly scrapped for reasons unknown. The tape was left in the station’s storage room, never to see the light of day again. That is, until The LaSallian got ahold of it. 

Dude, pare, chong, bro

“Going in, we wanted this to be the Philippines’ answer to Gossip Girl,” shares screenwriter Richie Lee*, “It’s a teen drama about pretty high-functioning sociopaths in La Salle with trust funds bigger than their egos. Who wouldn’t watch that?”

The pilot opens with fresh-faced Uniqlo-clad Henry Tan, rushing toward his political party, Santayo, for an exclusive dinner for fresh recruits. On his way, he crashes into Red Bang-is, a fiery and whip-smart officer from rival political party, Dapat. Their collision causes Red to drop the important documents he was holding. As Red hastily picks them up with Henry’s help, they unknowingly lock eyes for a moment but only shortly before Red remembers that he has to rush to submit his party’s documents to the DLSU Commission on Elections before the 6 pm deadline. The Dapat officer rushes, unwittingly leaving behind some files.

This anime trope opening sets off the flow of the plot, while Red’s mistake already sets the stage for a messy legal battle that was planned to have been the climax of the series.

According to a leaked script, some of the characters have also already been written out. The tall, dark, and handsome Red would have been revealed to be disarming with his cheeky one liners like, “Are you a dictator? Because I’d let you dominate me.” There’s also Henry’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, Imma Sentris, who has ambitions about being the next Hillary Clinton and “always wants to get involved in any social issue but the most she can do is write a position paper about it.”

Henry, meanwhile, doesn’t really have anything special about him, according to Director Jean Cameron,* besides the fact that he came from a prominent all-boys high school, “which is already a bare minimum to be a Lasallian.” Cameron was also excited to explore queer storylines in the show, especially in the wake of the success of Boys’ Love series. “I really wanted to depict authentic and relatable queer representation through two privileged boys,” he shares, “and every epic relationship needs some toxicity for the angst.” 

Themes and memes

This star-crossed love affair happens amid the political turmoil of the GE, with Henry torn between his promising future in Santayo and his growing feelings for his rival. If Ang Probinsyano has Gary Valenciano’s ‘Wag Ka Nang Umiyak, Ang Lasalyano has DLSU’s Alma Mater Hymn sung by the iconic Carl Wheezer. Every time Henry posts a meme on the community forum, or Imma forgets to change her generic copy-pasted campaign messages to random students, or Red forgets a cover letter, the theme song plays to further enhance the scenes’ emotional impact.

Peppered throughout the three-hour episode are enough Lasallian easter eggs to give Marvel a run for its money. Many campus cats are seen lounging in the background of several scenes, with Mooncake even caught giving the camera ‘the Kubrick stare’. Famous alumni like Iya Villania and Enchong Dee also made cameos, with Senator Bong Go even guest starring as the helpful Professor Beauth Lieker. Interestingly, the show also foreshadows the birth of DLSU Freedom Wall in one scene, with Henry visualizing a platform for Lasallians that “is the epitome of neutral and unbiased campus environment, campaigning for student issue awareness and responsible cancelling through efficient means.”

Gone but not forgotten

However, production soon hit a few bumps. Lee reveals, “Cameron and I shared conflicting views on the direction of the show. I suggested an all-out anime brawl such as the fight between Jotaro Joestar and Dio Brando, but the director insisted on a stuffy courtroom drama like Suits.” 

“Lee wanted to be all weird and experimental. I wanted the show to have prestige. Have you seen How To Get Away With Murder? That s–t wins Emmys,” asserts Cameron, “and with that Judiciary case, it would have been perfect.”

Failing to find a common ground on the direction of the show infuriated the show’s investors, causing them to pull their funding, hammering the final nail in the coffin for Ang Lasalyano

Lee still regrets how everything turned out, saying, “Damn, I was even already planning a bottleneck episode set entirely in Boracay as they search for the missing P200,000.”

Cameron, on the other hand, is still hopeful that someday the lost pilot will be aired. He adds, “With more and more drama each year, there will be plenty of material for us to work with. Ang Lasalyano will always be relevant. You can even say that this is our answer to the call of the times.”

*The writer’s and director’s names are concealed for the safety of their careers. For complaints and lawsuits, please visit: http://bit.ly/WeTakeYouSeriously.