Oct 09
BEYOND BORDERS OF ASIAN TELENOVELA by Salve Grace B. Losbanes  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Wed, Oct 9, 2013

Every country has their own literature medium for people to present their own culture.These may be through writing, painting, music, film or television. In presenting the television drama, the countries based it on their way of life that can touch human emotions. Genres and themes may be the same, but actually, one has its deeper meaning and lessons that audiences can live by.

As time passes by, people’s attention on seeking values is not only limited to their own culture. Despite language barrier, people nowadays are eager to see some other cultures and try to live by the human values they could get out of watching it through media, and as bonus, they can also get entertained. Now, let us see what makes one culture differ from the other in terms of presenting their television drama, how Filipinos adapt to it and what made Filipinos love them.

The Philippines, like other countries, has its own television drama called Teleserye. Series were born way back in the 1990s. Teleseryes like Mara Clara which lasted for years, Esperanza and Mula sa Puso, Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga and Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin are now considered classics. Reaching the average ratings of 60% , our very own teleserye was loved by the people. Waking up every night just to wait and see the latest episodes of these dramas became a habit among Filipinos.

However, the sudden import of other foreign series here in our country woke up the curiosity of the Filipino audiences to the new culture. It all started with the presence of Mexican Telenovelas especially those which starred the well-loved Mexican actress Thalia. The curiosity of the new way of presenting television drama became one reason why the Filipinos got hooked to these Mexican dramas.

Then, in early 2000, other Asian Dramas entered the scene. It was during the entrance of Meteor Garden, a hit Taiwanese series which made the Filipinos want to watch other Asian dramas like Japanese and Korean.

Meteor Garden, with its theme tackling friendship and love among high school students, easily attracted the Filipinos, especially our teens. Teens during the days would want to pull the time to the afternoon timeslot of this Taiwanese drama and be updated to the happenings in the life of San Chai and of the F4. Plus factor, the special feature of the drama such as interviews and behind the scenes being shown after the finale episode of Meteor Garden made the audiences want to watch more of them.

After Meteor Garden ended, the Filipinos became open to other Asian series. Despite unknown actors as casts, Filipinos still want to watch it because of their curiosity to the unique content of their dramas which in their opinion is different from our and Mexican telenovelas.

Family, friendship, business and love–these are the usual themes of the stories we can appreciate but each Asian country has a unique way of presenting them through interesting casts of characters, unique story line and the ever-present cliff-hanger endings.

Scenes in usual Filipino or Mexican drama are battered protagonists and very evil antagonists. We pitied the protagonists and we hated the antagonists. Third wheels in every love stories must be thrown out of the scene. Endings should always be marriage or shots of a happy couple with a baby.

But when Asian dramas entered, everything changed. Their ways of presenting their characters opened the mind of their audiences that protagonists can fight back too in a good way, that antagonists also have their good sides and that third wheels are more caring than the main lead.

Another factor which made it unique in the eye of their Filipino audiences was that most of the actors who portray several second lead and antagonist roles have attractive physical appearances usually more than the lead ones. So instead of hate, they learn to accept them especially when the story shows their vulnerable side and finds out good resolution to end up each character in the finale.

The meaningful acting of their actors in one simple scene would make their audiences laugh, cry, get angry and fall in love. They do neither cry just to show that they are sad, nor throw things or slap other people when they are angry. They act more with their facial expressions, mostly with their expressive eyes. Seeing it, the audiences can determine what was happening to a specific character, may it be antagonist or protagonist. Then it became a fair basis for the audiences to choose to which side they should take.

Family values and friendship and love trustworthiness are shown among lead characters, second leads and the extended casts throughout the story. Though some may have similar situations to the other dramas, but writers still find other angles to make the story unique and new. The presentation of rivalries between one character to the other, may it be business or love, was also filled with values as the story progresses. Each character makes sure that you can learn simple values from them, which as an audience, you can apply in your daily life. By the help of the wonderful dubbing artists or subtitled videos, their dialogues allowed the audiences to learn more about life’s message. Of course, their romantic dialogues, may it be simple or deep, made the audiences swim to the river of kilig.

Dialogues are not only spoken words. Some audiences enjoy watching Asian dramas because of their original soundtracks. These are songs which, mostly are specially made and created for the drama itself. Language barrier is a no-no, because music is a universal language, thus the audiences focus more on the melody rather than the language being sung by the foreign singers. The melody of the songs, may it be fast or slow or in combination with musical instruments add ambiance to every scene.

Their use of creative cinematography to take the wide shots of their locations where the characters really helped a lot. That is why, audiences who get exposed to the series would imagine themselves travelling to the place or experiencing the same culture as them. It became a tourism advantage for the country while the audiences enjoy watching the sceneries or feel the culture for entertainment purposes.

Last factor why audiences love to watch Asian drama is because of their cliff-hanging endings. They would always look forward to the finale scene of how the drama would end. Their endings are unique from each series. In contrast to other series which would always end with marriage, Asian drama endings are open for audiences to think if how they would want it to end it. Assumingly, most of Asian drama audiences would say “bad endings” but they love how Asian dramas end their series because writers allow them to make their own in their mind.

Other Asian dramas and Mexican series may be loved and enjoyed by Filipinos despite culture and language barriers, but then they never forget their sense of patriotism to our very own teleserye. They would still watch it and love it, even though for some, stories are quite similar to each other. Be proud of what we have, is actually one of the reason why Filipinos remain to love teleseryes, it’s because, we too, export our series in the other countries.

The most important thing for audiences why they love watching drama series or movies from other countries is not just because of the popularity of the actors and actresses, but mostly because of the unique content of the drama itself, especially the life learning and entertainment they can get out of watching it.

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