In the 1970s, when society was not too much into political correctness, gender identification for those who don’t necessarily fall under the male and female categories simply carried the label “the third sex,” and those who are covered by such classification were simply called “members of the third sex.” As time slowly opened up people’s eyes to new societal realities, it was found that, no, the issue of gender is not only limited to just three types, with the third type having far more subgroups than people originally thought there were. This led to the birth of an initialism of four letters, LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transexuals), which seems to get longer, with the addition of new letters and classifications, with the passage of time. For now, in anticipation of more letters to be affixed to this category, it is called the LGBTQIA plus, which stands for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals, queers, intersex, ally–plus (others).
In account of and in recognition of such societal changes, the People’s Television Network (PTV), has decided to produce a special Public Eye documentary entitled, “Beyond Letters.” The show will tell the stories of real people behind the initialism, take a peek on their lifestyles, their struggles and victories in a generally judgmental world. Beyond Letters aims to be an eye-opener to the public by showcasing the lives of real-life couples who, to this day, may be considered odd by most conservative Filipinos. It will allow viewers to take a peek at how a gay and lesbian couple, for instance, survive the prying eyes looking at them every single day; or how two lesbian women share a life of happiness and marital bliss.
“Beyond Letters” is hosted by Binibining Pilipinas 2021 Second Runner-Up, Meiji Cruz, who was a revelation in stringing together the highly-sensitive stories she will present to the public in her first solo hosting stint. We recently caught up with Meiji and got the chance to ask her about Beyond Letters and more:
Thrillmaker: Tell us something about Beyond Letters. What is it about?
Meiji: “Beyond Letters is the first ever “hybrid” docu-talk show in the media and public affairs industry, as far as I know. It is about stories, struggles, and concerns faced by the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The production team researched and made short documentaries featuring different people with unique stories and issues regarding their LGBTQIA+ experiences. We categorized it based on specific issues then we have special guests and experts invited in the studio to share their insights and personal experiences in relation to the said topics.
Thrillmaker: How does it feel to host this kind of show?
Meiji: “I am very happy and grateful for this experience. The topic is actually very close to my heart, as I am an advocate of Gender Equality. I grew up in the LGBTQIA+ community and some of my closest friends are members of it. I strongly believe that LGBT rights are human rights, thus, having me as the host of this special docu-show is really one for the books.
Thrillmaker: How does it feel to be hosting your own program? Is hosting something you really want to pursue as a career?
Meiji: “I am immensely grateful for the opportunity. TV hosting is my ultimate dream since I was a kid and as I grew older I couldn’t help myself but to think if this path was really for me. I was honestly terrified and excited after the first pre-prod meeting and I was like “OMG this is really big! Ito na ba ‘yon? Ito na ‘yon!” And as we went along – recorded my voice over and taped the show with the guests, I knew in the deepest part of my heart that TV hosting is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Thrillmaker: What are your future plans as far as broadcasting is concerned?
Meiji: “I am aiming to work and be a host of a morning show specifically ‘Rise and Shine Pilipinas’ and I would like to also have a regular lifestyle or documentary show weekly. Working and praying for it.”
Thrillmaker: Why should viewers watch “Beyond Letters?”
Meiji: “Beyond Letters is informational and sensational in a sense that you may not be a member of LQBT community nor even a supporter of it, but for sure their personal stories and struggles will touch your heart. We are in the time that though we talk more about it than before, there is still a room to learn and listen about these issues and concerns as we belong to one human race. The show is really an insightful and fun discussion. Please do watch it.”
“Beyond Letters” airs on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 8pm on PTV.