ABS-CBN soap operas now captivating non-Filipinos worldwide

In a recent interview with Ms.Reena de Guzman Garingan, head of International Sales and Distribution (ISD) of ABS-CBN Global, we found out that there are also non-Filipinos worldwide who have been captivated by the Kapamilya network’s teleseryes. These are not necessarily subscribers of The Filipino Channel (TFC).

Formerly head of the sales department of The Manila Hotel for many years, Ms. Garingan said they decided to hold a press conference for the first time to share with the entertainment press the success that ABS-CBN Global ISD has achieved in 15 years. Also in the luncheon meeting with the press were Jeff Domingo who was one of the pioneers in putting up ABS-CBN Global 15 years ago and who now runs its, and Bong Osorio, head of ABS-CBN Corporate Communications who said “we are here to celebrate the success of ABS-CBN shows here and abroad…and to let you know that aside from catering to the Filipinos worldwide, ABS-CBN has also penetrated non-Filipino audiences all over the world…”

When they put up TFC, their purpose was to target the Filipino overseas workers. They did not expect that they would also be catering to non-Filipino audiences, Jeff said.

“It’s about time we have to tell you what we have done in the last 15 years in selling our shows abroad,” Reena said. She just came from a speaking engagement in Africa (she discussed the social and ethical responsibilities of media professionals in the forum attended by leading journalists and broadcasters in that country), where ABS-CBN teleseryes will be shown, not only once a day, but “on a multiple timeslot, not only in Africa but also in other countries,” she proudly shared.

“Hindi lang pala mga Filipino ang kinikilig sa love story nila Jericho Rosales at Kristine Hermosa in ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo,’ at naiiyak sa paghihiwalay nila Piolo Pascual at Angel Locsin sa teleserye nila, but also non-Filipinos. Nakakatuwa lang,” Reena added.

Before she can offer their shows to any country, Reena said she had to read about that country’s culture, tradition and customs. “This helps a lot for me to understand if they decline my offer. You have to know why they can’t take your product.” But so far they’re not finding it hard to sell their products. In fact, sometimes the teleserye hasn’t even end here but already some countries are offering to buy it, Reena said. Most of the time it’s the story they are interested in and not so much with the stars. “With non-Filipino audiences, hindi nila kilala ang mga artista by their real names, but by their characters in the teleserye,” she said.

Although “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” is known to be the most successful ABS-CBN telerserye abroad, it was actually “Mula sa Puso” which set the trend, but too bad the male star, Rico Yan, met an untimely demise “at wala na kaming maibigay na follow-up shows niya,” Reena lamented.

Just recently, “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” (known abroad as “The Promise”) aired on China’s national television and rated second over all local and foreign programs airing in that country. Ten years after Filipinos fell in love with the Kristine Hermosa-Jericho Rosales tandem, the now classic teleserye still has appealed to the Chinese audience and even hit the Top 30 list in the national weekly ranking, covering over 2,000 channels and capturing 1.3 billion viewers.

But before China, the love story of Angelo Buenavista and Yna Macaspac have appealed and mesmerized audiences in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia and Africa. As Cambodian Nai Hiu Mei recounts “the teleserye, broadcasted here with Khmer dubbing, was so popular that many Cambodian babies were named Angelo. On the other hand, Times of Zambia writer Meluse Kapatamoyo wrote “the series has become a topic of discussion among families, friends and even neighbors who daily ponder on how the show would end.”

Rene Lotter of One Africa Television has even said “when is ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’ coming back? I wish I could get a dollar each time I get that question. From teenager to grandma, from household organizers to tax consultants – it’s gripped people across all genders.”

Another ABS-CBN teleserye, “Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin” (a.k.a. “Only You”) was aired on primetime alongside “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” in mainland China, carried by the biggest state television broadcaster. Meanwhile, “Sana Maulit Muli” (a.k.a. “Chances”), “Maging Sino Ka Man” (a.k.a. “More Than Love”) and “Gulong ng Palad” (a.k.a. “Stand for Love”) are expected to be aired in the Republic soon.

Also earning recognition internationally is the Angel Locsin-Piolo Pascual starrer “Lobo” (a.k.a. “She-Wolf: The Last Sentinel”). In the recently concluded 2009 International Emmy Awards, “She-Wolf” was recognized for the stellar performance of Angel Locsin who received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress. This recognition is the second for the show which won the Best Telenovela Award at the 30th BANFF World Television Festival in Toronto, Canada last year. Currently, the show is enjoying wide viewership in Brunei and is expected to be released to other countries in Indo-China, Asia, Europe and Africa this year.

By the way, Reena said ABS-CBN shows are subtitled and dubbed in several languages including English, Turkish, Khmer, Mandarin and French. One of the programs dubbed in French is “Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay” (a.k.a. “La Longue Attente” in French and “The Long Wait” in English) which will cater to French-speaking viewers in Africa and Europe.

Reena stressed that “ABS-CBN programs sell well because they resonate to the African audience. “Our writers, directors and actors are able to capture real-life experiences on screen. Our stories show pain and suffering but in the end, give viewers a glimpse of hope. As we demonstrate that obstacles and fear may be overcome, we help mend the broken African spirit.”

ISD which she heads, has been the premier source of top quality programs from the Philippines, making ABS-CBN the first and biggest Philippine content distributor in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia-Pacific and the leading Asian distributor in Africa. Through ISD, Kapamilya shows have become so popular among non-Filipinos that ABS-CBN is now regarded as a market mover and thought leader in the field of broadcasting in Africa.

Indeed, ABS-CBN has made its mark in the global market. Through the efforts of the ISD group, homegrown Pinoy entertainment has been given a chance to shine on the global stage.

Manila Bulletin

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