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In Focus: Kim Chiu's 'Bawal Lumabas' Journey—From Traumatic To Triumphant

In Focus: Kim Chiu's 'Bawal Lumabas' Journey—From Traumatic To Triumphant

Sweet, talented, and endearing, Kim Chiu would be the farthest from anyone’s mind to receive incessant hatred. Yet she did, all because of fighting for the people close to her heart—her fellow Kapamilya.

In her well-meaning intention to stand for her co-workers and talents who faced an uncertain future with the closure of ABS-CBN’s free-to-air broadcast operations, she spoke at the Laban Kapamilya online rally in early May. What she initially said might have been profound and forthright about the shutdown having shattered dreams of people wishing to get discovered and shine in the limelight.

[related: On Our Radar: Artistas Get Artsy Amid Lockdown]

Controversial remark

However, during the course of her online speech, what sparked controversy was her analogy of people being disallowed free movement on the streets during the enhanced community quarantine—to students being prohibited from leaving the classroom if they are not compliant.

That “Bawal Lumabas” remark led to confusion among those who heard it and Kim admitted she was baffled too with what she uttered—an honest mistake, she confessed. And, because of that mistake, she was on the receiving end of merciless and uncouth bashing and ridicule, mostly on social media, from netizens finding the best opportunity to pounce on the beleaguered network and its prominent personalities. With that live gaffe, Kim became the proverbial punching bag to unleash their orchestrated attacks.

Kim has been a fighter and a survivor all her life, facing what many could see an insurmountable string of misfortune—from the time her parents separated and losing a comfortable family life she once knew to her being passed on to a number of relatives in different parts of the country just to continue her studies and survive. Amidst all these, she overcame all those trying times and became a literal Big Winner in the hearts of viewers and aficionados of Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition in 2006 that launched her immensely successful showbiz career.

[related: ABS-CBN Lifestyle Asks: 'Love Thy Woman' Cast On Biggest Relationship Learnings]

Biggest accomplishment

She still encountered many ups and downs in those years as a premiere young actress, especially with the death of her beloved mom Louella in 2013 due to brain aneurysm. Despite this, she would prevail with her biggest accomplishment of having to support and bring back her entire family together under one roof.

Yes, Kim was ready for any ordeal that would come her way, even a life-threatening ambush attempt in March, wherein she would still continue her day’s activities like taping for her teleserye Love Thy Woman like a true professional. But she didn’t realize the magnitude of the hurt and suffering she would encounter in those days since uttering those “Law of the Classroom” remarks in the May online event.

Kim, at first, couldn’t muster the strength to endure that kind of savagery. She thought seclusion was her only way out. She would avoid social media and isolate herself for days as her introspection even led her to even direr thoughts—is this the end? Shall I pack up, leave the country, go to Canada permanently, and quit showbiz for good?

Was “Bawal Lumabas” ironically the sign that she would make her give up and step out of the limelight?

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Inspiring tale

It actually started an inspiring tale of how she turned a demoralizing setback into a monumental victory.

Just when Kim thought of giving up, she was persuaded to read an open letter from a netizen named Adrian Crisanto. Adrian, who is not only a casual observer to all the recent events that have transpired in Kim’s life but also a professional marketing communicator and songwriter, wrote that touching note to Kim encouraging her not to let those incessant bashing bring her down, and instead use it to her advantage and turn it to something really good and helpful.

Adrian told her not to lose hope as she remains “in a position of inspiring people” who would “look beyond the mistakes and find something beautiful.”

His words of encouragement, Kim said, picked her up from her lowest point and redeemed her composure as an artist. This led to an ingenious collaboration that made Kim work with Adrian and music artist DJ Squammy to produce what became Bawal Lumabas (The Classroom Song).”

Using the same words that people scoffed at and mocked, the song immediately garnered immense public attention and appreciation. People started to make TikTok and YouTube videos dancing to the tune of the song, with its official MV reaching 10 million views in a day. It became so popular that several versions of the song in different genres were released, sung by various artists. Popular online celebrity DJ Loonyo also turned the ditty into a viral dance challenge that further boosted its popularity.

[related: In Focus: Why ABS-CBN's Shutdown Is About Press Freedom More Than A Franchise Issue]

Triumphant moment

But what really became the real triumphant moment for Kim in this difficult journey was the sell-out of the song’s official T-shirt merchandise with proceeds she earmarked for relief efforts for families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. She raised a hefty amount from the sale of the shirts to distribute over 1,500 food packs and sanitation kits to impoverished families, displaced public utility drivers, and workers. Kim would also donate PHP 300,000 from the merch sales to the Shop and Share effort of Angel Locsin, Dimples Romana, and Anne Curtis aimed at financing mass COVID-19 testing.

Her “Bawal Lumabas” journey might have been hurtful and tormenting, but having to rise up from that trauma and turning it into an opportunity to inspire and help people became that defining, redeeming moment for Kim as an individual and as an artist.  

In her own words, Kim noted, “You can win by doing good by spreading love, by spreading kindness and alam mo kilala mo ang sarili mo. Life goes on and life teaches you lessons and this is my lesson. And I hope I inspired my ‘classmates’ sa nangyari and to keep going na wag nating hayaan ang mga taong di naman nakakilala sa atin na tapak-tapakan tayo. Basta alam natin ang totoo.”

ALSO READ: ABS-CBN Lifestyle Asks JC De Vera: How's Dad Life Amid COVID-19?

Photos from Kim Chiu's Instagram account

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