Inspired by the story, underlying lessons, and overall sense of fun from Encanto, Hidilyn Diaz unleashes her inner Luisa.
Leave it to the geniuses at Disney to simultaneously entertain the heck out of its audience, but then when least expected, pull the rug from underneath (or in this particular case, shake up the tiled floors of the casita) with a tugging, touching tale that is by all accounts bound to be a classic. With the penchant of the House of Mouse to make the ordinary, well, extra, the latest animated film, Encanto, distinctly dazzles. Framed in the colorful and charming context of Colombian culture, which centers into among many things, magical realism, generational trauma, and most importantly, the enduring bond of family, this a story that not only sits well with the best of Disney, but it also expands into fascinating facets of the human condition such as representation, vulnerability, and defiance, all essayed in a stunning visual, written, and musical narrative that has us watching it on repeat.
In its effort to tell the stories of the world, the animated film helmed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro-Smith and brought to life by such voices as Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, and Jessica Darrow, with music by the incomparable Lin Manuel-Miranda and Germaine Franco, reminds of the things that connects us all, and in the end, feel a sense of ourselves portrayed in the refreshing, riveting, and at times, a riot of an adventure. There lies the power of Encanto.
Nothing compares to being seen, heard, and ultimately, accepted (and loved) for who you are and are not. This is what Encanto teaches us, and as overwrought as it may sound to some, it rings true: we are all extraordinary. Here, we truly made to feel special in our own way, no matter what abuela says.
The Magic Of Encanto
There have been many stories of how much Encanto has had an endearing and emotional effect on its viewers. Whether it be young kids finally seeing themselves onscreen in a decidedly diverse Disney flick, Latin families coming together to see the nuance of their family and heritage play out, and the many snaps and snippets taking over social media, it is an absolute joy to witness this swell of sentiment. This is the most realized in the soundtrack, where from The Family Madrigal, We Don’t Talk About Bruno, What Else Can I Do, Waiting On A Miracle, and Surface Pressure, there’s no mistake about it, at some point, we become part of the extended family of the enchanting Madrigals.
While focused on the fascinating Colombian culture, the themes are all too familiar, especially for Filipinos, first-borns, and those who were made to feel less special. Whether seeking validation or navigating vulnerability, this is resonant, which is why when Isabela asserts herself from perfection, Luisa learns to balance work and play, and Mirabel fights for her place and purpose, it hit hard. So, when seeing people profess their love for the characters or even live out their Encanto fantasies, we not only get it—we are living for it on every scroll.
It is all over social media, especially on TikTok, with the likes of Ayn Bernos taking on Isabela, but making her Filipino, and for some people commenting that another popular content creator, Nana Silayro could very well be Mirabel Madrigal. But nothing has brought more joy to our timelines than our very own gold medal-winning Olympian, Hidilyn Diaz, dressing up as the embodiment of superhuman strength in Encanto, Luisa.
It couldn’t have been more perfect. If anything, Hidilyn Diaz made the Encanto character her own. “Trinatry ko maging Luisa Madrigal kasi sabi niyo ako yun,” she wrote in a series of posts on her Instagram Stories. “Same same but different.” With a similar white bohemian top and an intricately printed skirt, it is as if we can hear the go through the journey of self-doubt and self-discovery in the earworm that is Surface Pressure, sans the dancing donkeys, of course. “I think about my purpose, can I somehow preserve this?” and so goes the song, which somehow parallels her journey in the sport of competitive weightlifting. “If the same pressure would’ve pulled you under / Who am I if I don’t have what it takes? / No cracks, no breaks / No mistakes, no pressure.”
Of course, we all know how much mental fortitude, unceasing support, and perseverance has pushed her passion into the realization of her dream, the first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines. It was a lot to process for months and years, but with the right training, a balance of play, and steely tenacity, Hidilyn Diaz didn’t cave to the pressure, which Luisa eventually learned to foster by the end of Encanto.
Just as Encanto teaches us, and in the same breath of conversation, Hidilyn Diaz, there is no such thing as perfection. No matter how hard one forces it or even chases after it, the cracks will eventually show and run the façade to the ground. And from the rubble of apparent defeat, this is where we finally realize that we already have what it takes to be great from the very beginning. It just is a matter of recognizing it and really standing up for it, because really, at the end of the day, it’s the heart that powers us through, and that in itself is abundantly magical.
Now, everyone is welcome in the casita of Encanto, especially you. No pressure.