It was a heart-rending moment for Jericho Rosales and Kristine Hermosa. The two young lovers were about to be separated, leaving the viewers in tears. But there's a catch: The Pinoy characters were speaking in Mandarin, and were being watched by "1.3 billion" Chinese.
China—one of the biggest countries in the world—has taken a fancy to Filipino TV series such as Pangako Sa 'Yo.
This good news was relayed by the ABS-CBN's Global Group last March 18 at the 9501 restaurant in ELJ Communications Center, Eugenio Lopez Drive, Quezon City.
According to Bong Osorio, head of the Kapamilya station's corporate communications department, ABS-CBN Global is one of the network's most successful subsidiaries. It has been operating for 15 years, and brought The Filipino Channel (TFC) to our kababayans in "North America, Middle East, Europe, Australia, and Asia Pacific." Moreover, it has penetrated the non-Filipino region by offering the top-rating teleseryes of Channel 2.
This means that there's already a demand for our TV series in other countries, just like Koreanovelas have been getting rave reviews here in the Philippines. The 10-year-old Pangako Sa 'Yo, for instance, is now considered a timeless piece since it's still being aired in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Cambodia.
Reena de Guzman Garingan, the lady who spearheaded this venture, was very enthusiastic when she faced the press and media people. "We have proven that the Pinoy brand of work is really one of a kind, and something you all should be proud of as Filipinos. Gusto niyo bang mapanood ang French Version ng Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay? In English, it's called The Long Way; and in French, it's called La Longue Attente. So, maganda bang pakinggan? We have carefully done it in many languages..."
But to get this far, the nitty-gritty entails a lot of patience, research and, of course, hard work.
Reena explained the long process, "Tinitignan namin kung may mga elemento, elements sa istorya, na medyo questionable sa ibang kultura. Kasi, we really try to come up with a program that's universally accepted, no matter what religion, no matter what culture, what race you have...'Tapos, ang gagawin namin is we look up the length. But we have to finish...'saka kami kukuha ng producer.
"Mahabang proseso yun, e, kasi una, kailangan namin tignan kung gaano kahaba yung umeere sa ibang bansa [at] hindi yung local airing natin dito. Yung umeere lang dito is 20 minutes to 30 minutes [ang] timeslot. Yung sa amin, binebenta namin for one hour, so ang kailangan namin gawin, pagdudugtung-dugtungin namin."
But it was not just a simple case of cut to cut. So much time is allotted for the audio-video lock, so the dubbing of the video clips shown during the press conference was precise. It was as if Edu Manzano, who played drug lord Henri Argos in Kay Tagal Kitang Hinintay, was really speaking in French.
"Swak sa bibig, 'saka napi-feel nila yung emotions. Yung drama nararamdaman, importante yun kasi madrama tayong lahat, so kailangan kahit anong lenggwahe. Binabantayan rin namin iyon," Reena related.
At present, there are about 30 series being sold to "15 countries in Asia, 5 countries in Europe, 12 in French-speaking African countries, 20 English-speaking African countries, and 5 Portuguese-African countries."
The most successful to date, according to Reena, is Pangako Sa 'Yo. "It's a phenomenal program and its long enough—160 episodes by 45 minutes—to give us good revenues. And the story is very tight, very kaiba talaga. At saka 10 years back, hindi ganito yung mga series [o] teleserye na pinapalabas natin," she said.
The most recent offerings were Tayong Dalawa or The Two of Us (which was sold in Malaysia, Brunei, and Kenya), Lobo or She-Wolf: The Last Sentinel, and Dahil May Isang Ikaw or Destined Heart.
Reena added, "We always sell it first, then we reproduce its international version. We do not invest on it unless it sold."
And it doesn't matter to the non-Filipino viewers whether the main characters do not look like them. "Mixture of faces tayo," Reena said. "Hindi nila alam kung saan nag-umpisa, so [they] just take it from the story, pagkatapos na lang na nalaman nila na Pilipino pala ito."
So it won't actually be surprising if the Chinese viewers would make a clamor for the Echo-Tintin tandem any time soon. After becoming the talk of the town, the phenomenal teleserye is now moving up in the world.