An old drama series from ABS-CBN was used by some foreigners to learn about Filipino culture.
Nestor Castro, a cultural anthropologist, said this in a post where he recalled his previous fieldwork in Malaysia and Indonesia.
In the post, which he shared on November 6, Castro said that in 2007, he and his anthropology students went to a coastal town in Sabah, Malaysia called Kota Belud.
The professor said that when they attended a traditional wedding in one of the villages there, some attendees suddenly requested for them to sing “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” after the latter was told that they came from the Philippines.
“Pangako Sa ‘Yo” is the theme song of one of ABS-CBN’s iconic series of the same name.
“When those attending the wedding found out that we come from the Philippines, they requested us to sing ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo,’ the theme song of the Filipino teledrama with the same title, since this TV series was a hit in Malaysia,” Castro said.
“Fortunately, one of my students – Denzil Buenaventura – was a good singer and sang the song in front of the wedding guests,” he added.
Castro then shared another related story that took place two years after this event.
At that time, he was doing fieldwork in a city called Timika in Papua, Indonesia.
Castro said that one of his Papuan informants told him that the children there learned Tagalog through watching Philippine television shows.
He was also told that “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” is also a popular title in Indonesia.
“I found out that Pangako Sa ‘Yo was also popular in Indonesia and people watch it in the original Filipino language with Bahasa Indonesia/Bahasa Melayu subtitles,” Castro said.
The post was then accompanied by different posters of “Pangako Sa ‘Yo”—the poster of the original version in 2000, the poster of the remake version in Thai language and an adaptation of the series in Cambodia.
The original “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” aired on ABS-CBN from 2000 to 2002. It starred Kristine Hermosa and Jericho Rosales.
The remake aired on the same network from 2015 to 2016. It starred real-life couple Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla.
From these experiences, Castro then said that local television shows can compete with Korean dramas.
The professor, however, made emphasis on government support.
“So, if you’re wondering how come we can’t compete with Korean films, my answer is we actually can. However, Korean films are very much promoted by the Korean government as part of their ‘soft power’ influence,” he said.
“On the other hand, Filipino television and movie outfits are left to fend for themselves. ABS-CBN, which produced Pangako Sa ‘Yo, has even been closed down by the Duterte government,” he added.
This post came weeks after Sen. Jinggoy Estrada came under fire for his suggestion to ban Korean dramas and other foreign-made films and television shows in the Philippines.
During a Senate hearing last October, Estrada perceived that the popularity of Korean shows and actors will lead to the loss of jobs for Filipino actors.
It prompted widespread calls for state support of the local entertainment industry, particularly of media workers.