Filipino American character Bo Bayani stars in new Disney animation Firebuds

Bo Bayani Disney animation Firebuds
“Firebuds” is full of references to Filipino American culture. Photo from Disney Junior

A Filipino American character named Bo Bayani is starring in the newly released Disney animation series, Firebuds, released today, September 21, 2022.

The young Bo Bayani leads the cast of characters that include his talking fire engine best friend, Flash, and his other friends who are kids of first responders as they help resolve problems in their community.

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Bo is voiced by Declan Whaley and his first responder father Chief Bill Bayani is portrayed by Fil-Am actor Lou Diamond Philips in the first all-Filipino Hollywood film, Easter Sunday.

In a tweet, Lou Diamond Philips wrote, “So thrilled to be part of this exciting new series! So innovative, creative, and fun; from the brilliant minds behind @elenaofavalor
And, I’m excited to say that Chief Bill is Filipino as well as being a first-responder! #Firebuds”

Bo and Chief Bill Bayani and their family are written by Fil-Am Krystal Banzon who used her own life lessons to develop the characters. “Bayani” is the Filipino term for “hero” – the role both father and son are called upon to act as they serve their neighborhood.

“Super lucky to write these characters to life! #pinoypride” Krystal tweeted ahead of this Wednesday’s release of the two episodes of Firebuds.

Banzon revealed in an Inquirer interview how the new animated series from Disney makes several allusions to and portrayals of Filipino culture.

Bo’s interactions with his large Pinoy family including his grandparents, retired fire chief Lolo Ben and Lola Belen, recall Banzon’s own memories of paying respects to elders with the “mano po” gesture and making “parol” star lanterns for Christmas.

Firebuds’ magical world of talking vehicles features the cheerful Jipney. the namesake of the iconic Philippine public transport jeepney. complete with its own disco ball and karaoke machine – a reference to the well-known Filipino penchant for singing.

Banzon also reveals other Fil-Ams in the production including one of the show’s directors, Julius Aguimatang, along with production assistants and storyboard artists.

“Firebuds” is created by Craig Gerber (Sofia the First, Elena of Avalor.

Disney has been featuring Filipinos and its culture in productions such as the 2020 Disney short that pays homage to Filipino Christmas traditions and characters set in a fictionalized Philippines on Christmas eve, and the 2019 Disney-Pixar Sparkshorts film written and directed by Filipino-American Bobby Rubio, “Float”, the first Pixar work to feature Filipino-American animated characters.

The first episode of Firebuds airs this September 21 at 10:30 a.m. ET/PT with simulcasts on Disney Channel and Disney Junior, and on Disney+.

SEND MABUHAY CHEERS in the comments below to the cast and crew of Firebuds, the new Disney animated series starring the Filipino American character of Bo Bayani!

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EJ is a BA Communication Arts student who hopes to become a great film maker or a good editorial writer one day. Writing for him is a way to share a story that will connect with every reader to whom he can provide lessons and inspirations. He is a smile campaign advocate and aims to see everyone in good spirits. His life motto is - Keep Smiling.