Bagani or Warrior is a Philippine television drama fantasy series, starring the young actor Enrique Gil and young actress Liza Soberano with Matteo Guidicelli, Sofia Andres and Makisig Morales.
The series premiered on ABS-CBN's Primetime Bida evening block and worldwide on The Filipino Channel last March 5, 2018, replacing La Luna Sangre. The storyline of Bagani revolves around the struggle and conflict of five groups: Taga-Patag or the farmers, Taga-Laot or the fishermen, Taga-Kalakal or thetraders , Taga-Gubat or the hunters, Taga-Disyerto or the warriors in a fantasy world called Sansinukob.
Enrique Gil will play as Lakas from the group of Taga-Disyerto. He is a warrior born into the Desert Region. An outcast and is born with parents who are branded as traitors for standing up with what is right. But despite the cruelty of the bullies around Lakas, he grew up in a home filled with love from his dignified father Agos and his thoughtful mother Lila. Lakas works for Dakim, the leader of the Taga-Disyerto who plans to conquer the Farm Region which is the region of his lover, Ganda. On the other hand, the young actress Liza Soberano played as Ganda from the group of Taga-Patag. She is a farmer born into the Farm Region.
Ganda is a feisty but loving and responsible younger sister of the leader of the Farm Region. She is willing to sacrifice herself just to secure and stabilize her family and clan. She doesn’t give up easily without putting up a fight for what she believes is right. While the actor Matteo Guidicelli played as Lakam from the group of Taga-Kalakal. He is a man born into the Trade Region, also a dignified man who seems to have everything; money, power, army, perfect face and godly physique. But Lakam still couldn’t feel more incomplete for he also has a father who never acknowledged him until his older brother died. Now that it is just him and his father Ama, Lakam does everything he could to gain his father’s love and approval.
The other actors are Sofia Andres as Mayari from the group of Taga-Laot and Makisig Morales as Dumakulem from the group of Taga-Gubat. Mayari is a slave born into the Sea Region. She developed feelings for Datu and has served him well. Even as a slave, Mayari held onto her hopes and dreams to rise above her position and be able to be with the one she loves. Her courage in the face of the people and the situations despite being a slave made her raise herself into being a Bagani. She is willing to go through lengths to protect the ones she loves and to keep peace in the midst of war. While, Dumakulem is a youth born from the Forest Region.
Contrary to his people, Dumakulem longs to explore the world outside the forest. Although he longs to see the outside world, Dumakulem considers his family and people, the most important things to him and will protect them at any cost. He is naturally charming and fun-loving, the kind that loves to joke around. But at the same time, he is also perceptive and smart. He is able to showcase his resourcefulness in so many ways.
In February 2018, prior to its airing, Bagani was criticized online for casting actors of Caucasian descent in a show supposedly inspired by pre-colonial Philippine mythology. The main cast includes: Enrique Gil, who is of Spanish and German descent; Liza Soberano, whose mother is American; and Matteo Guidicelli who is half Italian. Netizens criticized the entertainment industry for setting fair skin as the standard of beauty. They also criticized the use of makeup to make the actors look like they have brown skin.
Liza Soberano responded to the critics through a tweet where she defended her Filipino identity: "My father is full Filipino. I was raised by two Filipinos since the age of 4." The show's headwriter, Mark Angos, explained through Twitter that Bagani is set in Sansinukob, a fictional alternate world with elements from Filipino mythology. He clarified that Bagani is not "pre-colonial" or "historical". He also explained that the actors who portray the "desert people" had to wear brown makeup because the script states that dirt and sand sticks to their skin. He also added that "colorism is real" but using it as "a bullet to demonize Filipinos of mixed heritage" is "disgusting". Other netizens also defended the show.
The series has also been criticized by historical societies and indigenous groups for what they view as a "misuse" of the term "Bagani" and misrepresentation of Philippine tribes. Ronald Adamat of the Commission on Higher Education took umbrage and sought clarification from ABS-CBN over its depiction of indigenous people, stating he was "deeply bothered about the portrayal of ‘Bagani’ in a teleserye as being a ‘bayani with magical powers.’" The network however denied trivializing tribal groups in the series, insisting that Bagani takes place in an alternate fantasy universe inspired but unrelated to pre-colonial Philippines.
On March 5, 2018, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) released a statement on the use of "Bagani" in the series stating that the "Bagani" are real, not fictional, or a "mythological group of warriors" that the Bagani television series "would like to portray" noting that the term originally refers to the peacekeeping force of the Manobo and other indigenous groups of Mindanao. It insisted that the use of the concept of Bagani in the television series "distorts, misleads and confuses" the meaning of the indigenous term. ABS-CBN released a statement that it does not intend to malign any indigenous group and that Bagani seeks to "to feature warriors, protectors, and heroes who espouse Filipino values and beliefs" and pointed out that the series was never purport itself as a historical account of Philippine history or culture.
The aforementioned disclaimer was later incorporated in the program, stating that Ang kuwentong inyong mapapanood ay kathang-isip lamang at kumuha ng inspirasyon mula sa iba’t ibang alamat at mitolohiyang Pilipino. Ito’y hindi tumutukoy o kumakatawan sa kahit anong Indigenous People sa Pilipinas. ("The story you're about to watch is a work of fiction and is inspired by Philippine mythology and folk legends. It does not refer to and is not representative of any Indigenous People in the Philippines.")
ABS-CBN released a press release statement on March 13, 2018 that it has made a consensus with representatives from the Commission on Higher Education, House of Representatives, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples that the indigenous term of "Bagani" was used by network in good faith that it shall remain the title of the series. It also expresses its willingness to become a "partner" to these groups to promote awareness on indigenous Filipino culture.
The title of the fantaserye "Bagani" will remain, ABS-CBN said after meeting on Tuesday with representatives from the Commission on Higher Education, Congress, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. The meeting sought to address the use of the term known to be exclusive to indigenous communities in Mindanao. "After hearing all sides, all parties have come to an understanding that the use of 'Bagani' is in good faith," said ABS-CBN.
The company added that it will work with concerned organizations, as they aim to be a "partner" in further educating the Filipino audience about the culture of indigenous peoples. "There are real Baganis among IPs," ABS-CBN acknowledged. "They are the IP's warriors who protect entire communities and ancestral domains from external threats and armed intrusions. "They are looked up to by IPs as armed vanguards willing to die for communities to thrive and live in peace. They are among the inspirations used by ABS-CBN in coming up with the fantaserye entitled 'Bagani'." The show features a disclaimer before each episode, emphasizing that the story is fictitious and that it takes inspiration from Filipino mythology and folklore. It also says that it "does not represent or pertain to any IP in the country."
Recently, the show involve in another controversies, over a dozen talents of the ABS-CBN fantaserye "Bagani" were involved in a road crash, producer Star Creatives has confirmed, saying it continues to monitor the condition of those hurt in the incident. In a press conference, Star Creatives advertising and promotions manager Mico del Rosario said the crash happened on Wednesday, March 14, and involved 19 talents of the primetime series. "Unfortunately, yesterday, there was an accident in NLEX. 'Yung sinasakyan pong jeep nung talents -- there were 19 of them -- medyo nagkaroon ng problema 'yung makina, tumaob po," he said. There were no serious injuries in the incident involving "Bagani" talents, del Rosario added, saying they have all been discharged from the hospital.