Filipino American character leads new Disney animated series

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Disney Junior Photo

“Firebuds,” a new animated series streaming soon on Disney platforms, will feature a Filipino American character named Bo Bayani.

Straight from the creator of “Sofia the First and Elena of Avalor,” Craig Gerber said in a D23 interview that “Firebuds” is an upcoming comedy-adventure series that will center around a group of young friends who are children of first responders.

Set in a world where talking vehicles co-exist with humans, Filipino American Bo (Declan Whaley) teams up with his firetruck pal Flash (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) and other young friends to help people in their neighborhood.

The voice cast is stacked with major players which includes Lou Diamond Phillips and Yvette Nicole Brown as co-fire chiefs, Chief Bill Bayani and Chief Faye Fireson, respectively.

Other characters are voiced by Vivian Vencer as Violet, Lily Sanfelippo as Axl, JeCobi Swain as Jayden, and Caleb Paddock as Piston. 

In an Inquirer interview with Firebuds staff writer Krystal Banzon, she said that there are numerous Filipino cultural references and representations in the show.

Behind the scenes, Julius Aguimatang is one of the show’s directors and according to Banzon, there are also Filipino American storyboard artists and production assistants working on the show.

Banzon also said in the interview that aside from Bo and Bill Bayani, Filipino American characters include “Lolo Ben, who was also a Fire Chief before he retired. There’s also Bo’s Lola Belen.”

In addition, there is also a nod to the famous public vehicle from the Philippines – the jeepney. 

“In our magical world of talking vehicles, we have Jipney, the fabulous and cheerful jeepney who helps transport Bo’s large extended family. Of course, Jipney comes complete with his own disco ball and karaoke machine!,” Banzon said in the interview.

The D23 preview revealed that each “Firebuds” episode consists of two 11-minute stories that show the importance of learning about one’s own culture, as well as volunteerism and teamwork.

Banzon said that the series will showcase Filipino traditions and values to a wider audience.

“In “Firebuds,” we have Bo learning how to be a community helper and his best self, from the wisdom and examples of his dad and Lolo,” she told the Inquirer.

“Firebuds” is a story full of morals, with dashes of fun, friendship and community, perfect for its young audience.

“I think that in kids programming, there is a big, beautiful responsibility to show kids the magnificent diversity of the world. I feel lucky and honored to be a part of bringing the Bayani family and the whole ‘Firebuds’ world to life,” Banzon told the Inquirer.

The series will premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 27 on Disney Junior, Disney+, and Disney Channel.

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