In Conversation With: The Cast of ‘Sparks Camp’

Andre Lawes Menchavez sits down with the hotties behind this reality show sensation to talk love, representation, and season 1 drama

While there has been a rise in queer love stories on TV, viewers like myself have been deprived of something much more authentic than a scripted series with straight actors playing gay characters. Luckily, Sparks Camp premiered this summer, making it not only the first queer Filipino dating show, but one of the first shows ever representing authentic international brown queer love, period. 

The show’s first season—which are all available to binge-watch now on the Black Sheep PH Youtube page—has garnered over 2 million views. The series features a cast of easy-to-love and unapologetically queer Filipinos, who represent not only the gay community, but also features bisexual and pansexual cast members. The show, hosted by iconic trans beauty queen, activist, and writer, Miss Mela Habijan, follows the cast competing in a number of challenges with dates as prizes, and participating in fireside “Moment of Truth” personal sharing sessions, all ultimately leading to each contestant announcing who their “spark” is with the hopes of a mutual match. 

Beyond Sparks Camp’s lakeside camp exterior is a history-making show where the greatest spark it has created was not the relationships formed in it, but rather the conversations the show bravely trail-blazes while the cast each hold a torch in hand, creating a larger fire to follow with every authentic story they share to the world. I wouldn’t believe you if you alleged five years ago that we’d one day have a reality show with an entirely Filipino queer cast, where they talk about the conservative culture of the Philippines, the machismo values expected of men and the deep prevalence of mental health issues in our community—especially if you told me these conversations would happen shortly after these hot men oil themselves up and tackle each other for a chance at a one-on-one date

I sat down over Zoom with the cast of Sparks Camp (Gabe Balita, Karl Bautista, Stanley Bawalan, Alex De Ungria, Dan Galman, Bong Gonzales, Justin Macapallag, Nat Magbitang, and Aaron Maniego) to discuss how the show influenced their idea of love, what this representation of queer Filipino love can lead to with regards to the political and social climate of the Philippines, and spill all the tea about the couples and singles on the show after the cameras stopped rolling.