In protest of more local adaptations of foreign TV shows  

Posted by Laya in ,

I saw a picture that had been making the rounds lately... a rumored Filipino adaptation (and we've been getting a lot of those lately) this time of Meteor Garden. Remember it? San Cai and the four boys of F4, which spawned such F4 mania that my mom still has F4 placemats and coasters to this very day. As we all know, Meteor Garden was but one of the small-screen adaptations of a popular manga... the other adaptations include Hanayori Dango and Boys over Flowers. I admit to being one of those who watched Meteor Garden off and on during the height of the F4 fever just to find out what the fuss was all about. While I did appreciate the charms of the four guys that made up F4, I couldn't help but think that it was the very foreign-ness of the series that made its quirks palatable to Pinoy audiences. I mean, really, what self-respecting Pinoy 'kada, in view of the "macho" Pinoy culture, would call itself the "Flower Four?"

On the heels of the rumored Meteor Garden adaptation comes the rumors of yet another adaptation of a foreign TV series, this time a personal favorite: Shining Inheritance, which had only concluded its Philippine run early this January. I don't think you'll find a fan of that drama in these islands more devoted than I am, but all I could think upon hearing the rumor was : Oh, shoot no, you'll ruin it for me! I had been thinking recently, what if Shining Inheritance had a sequel, since I hated that it had to end. But then I thought... nah, it's best that way, to leave it as it is. It's the chemistry between the characters of Hwan and Eun Sung that made it so great to watch, and Lee Seung Gi and Han Hyo Joo played them well. I don't want them to be superseded by another Juan and Inna. For that matter, I watched the series in both the original Korean with subtitles on the internet and the Tagalog dub on TV, and was annoyed with some of the changes in the dialogue, as sometimes perhaps the original words did not fit with the character's lip movements when translated, or perhaps the dubbers thought that the Filipino audience would not understand references to Korean culture, I don't know. For me, since the series was after all Korean, the references to Korean culture was part of the whole parcel and I was glad to learn something new.

Let's face it, local TV nowadays is full of derivative shows, either sequels to old shows, remakes of old movies or soaps, or local adaptations of foreign series. Everything is something old made over. It gives new meaning to the old adage that "Filipinos are great imitators," doesn't it? We've got the local versions of Deal or No Deal, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Survivor, even Pinoy Idol. We have the Pinoy versions of Marimar, Ugly Betty, and now Full House... coming soon, Endless Love. Goddammit, can't you even give us something new to watch? What is this rut you guys are in? What's next, a local version of CSI or 24? Why can't you put on a series on Lapu-lapu, Bantugan, or Mga Ibong Mandaragit? Our school children know who Jumong and Jang Geum and Seon Deok are, but do they know who Maria Makiling and Bernardo Carpio are? They could probably name the hierarchies of old Korean nobility, but couldn't probably name all ten Bornean datus from the Maragtas (Datus Puti, Bangkaya, Lumbay, Balinsuna, Paiburong, Dumalogdog, Dumangsol, Padohinog, Sumakwel, Dumangsil.) They could learn Japanese or Chinese or Korean, but not Ilocano or Cebuano or Bikolano if those are not their native tongues.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should not learn something about other places. I'm just saying that it's just plain wrong that we don't pay as much attention to the richness of our own history and culture as we do to that of other places. Why does everything have to be an imitation of what's elsewhere? Why can't we create something that's uniquely Filipino? And don't give me any of that crap about it "not selling," about it being "not interesting enough." If you couldn't make the old stories, or stories about our own culture, interesting enough to sell, then you probably aren't good enough writers. And you have a captive audience, for goodness' sake. Look at the crap they swallow right now because there isn't anything better. I guess though, that it is easy for just any paid hack to churn out reams of derivative junk on formula. As long as it sells, it doesn't matter if it's junk, right? As long as the advertisers keep paying for ads, and people go on watching because there isn't anything better. If the Koreans could turn out beautiful versions of their own epics and capture a global audience, why can't we? Let's leave the foreign-made originals as they are, perfectly good originals that we all fell in love with, and create some good originals of our own.

Among the books I read in my early childhood were Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys. I was inspired to create something like that on my own, drawing characters from the people around me. The only problem was that they all ended up with American names, and I had written about twenty pages before it dawned on me that characters with American names do not live in a small barrio in the Philippines. I was about nine or ten years old, and the problem was that the American small town and its culture was more familiar territory to me in books than were the Philippine barrio and town. I would only learn much much later that it is always best to write about what you know, that no matter how fictitious your stories are, they should always be
rooted in something that is real to you in order for you to do justice to them. I ripped up what I had written and resolved from then on that I would always try to write about what I knew, with characters that were like the people around me, that I would try my best to come up with original stories and not derivations of those I read. From then on, I paid more attention to what was around me so that I could infuse local color into what I write. My recent NaNoWriMo effort, "The Secret of the Cottage," hearkens back to those stories I once wrote for fun when I was younger; the characters, Kat and her brothers Ian and Andy and her friends Pie and Michael and Eddie and Toffee could be any one of the people around me when I was growing up.

For God's sake, stop with these derivative things already and give us something new for a change.

This entry was posted at Monday, February 08, 2010 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 people cared

Personally, I think it'd be great to have a teleserye based on Noli Me Tangere.

Local networks should encourage their producers and writers to be more creative. Come up with something new and fresh na di nakaka-insulto ng katalinuhan ng mga manonood.

Sorry for the Taglish.

February 8, 2010 at 8:59 PM

@Ria Jose: A Noli Me Tangere teleserye would be pwnsome. Did you see the Noli in contemporary times videos on YouTube that some high school students made as part of their project? I wish local networks had the guts and vision to do something like that.

Taglish is okay BTW ;)

February 9, 2010 at 9:08 AM

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