^

Entertainment

Why can’t we have this stuff on TV?

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - ‘The positive acceptance of Heneral Luna throws a gauntlet on the stage of the entertainment world. The Filipino audience is not intelligence-challenged. It’s time to raise the ante by offering them films and TV dramas that engage them emotionally and intelligently. And who knows, by igniting their brain synapses more frequently, they may start thinking and making decisions with greater discernment, such as in selecting our future leaders.’

When people I knew peppered me with glowing notices and exultant reviews about the film Heneral Luna, I was very skeptical. My past experience tells me that when a Filipino indie film is overly praised, it will turn out to be a big disappointment. I can’t recall how many times I have fidgeted in my seat and even walked out early in the movie. So finally, when I went to see Heneral Luna, I was prepared to be disappointed.

Lo and behold, I sat through the entire movie, without fidgeting. Not only that, I came out of the theater with my hopes raised high regarding the future of Filipino films. The last time I felt this way was when I saw English Only Please. But this time, I felt moved to root for Pinoy filmmakers.

This is a rare film by a Filipino team of filmmakers that knows how to tell its story visually. From script to characterization, production design, lighting, sound and cinematography, I tip my hat off to the director and his team. From the perspective of a film director like myself, I pronounce it as a superbly crafted work. I may quibble with minor details but they are minor and can be overlooked. In short, over all, it’s an unqualified success. Huwag sanang masayang ang talent niya sa pagtanggap na mag-direct ng mga teleseryes.

I am happy to learn from news reports that Heneral Luna has reached over the P200M mark in gate receipts. This should help the producers recover the cost of making it. I am happy for them and I only wish more producers will be encouraged to take risks on films with meaningful topics or subjects.

With the undeniable box-office success of Heneral Luna, who can now categorically say that the Filipino viewer is not ready to see works of this kind? It flies in the face of what major TV network programming executives in effect have been telling their creative teams: Dumb it down, cater it to the taste of the masa, the so-called “bakya” crowd. I have always believed that there are no “bakya” audiences, only “bakya” producers.

Which brings me to my next point. Why can’t we have similar intelligent fare on television?

TV networks want to play it safe so their choice of content is limited to komik soap opera stories which they believe will make teleseryes appealing to the masa, and sustain their audience ratings. So what televiewers get is more of the usual: A beautiful lass and her ugly alalay, fair-skinned protagonist versus dark-skinned rival, cliché plotting, sketchy caricaturing of characters, raising-an-eyebrow-and-pouting school of acting, the expected servings of slapping from time to time, sabunutan, the exchange of mahanghang na salita (all of which I am still seeing in teleseryes as recently as yesterday). I have also observed that problems are solved by the young, who seem to know better than their adult mature elders. Why rock the boat and raise the ante? Why try the untried? Why bother coming up with more intelligent fare and lose the ratings game? So let’s just continue feeding them the same old junk content.

Now, our political analysts and commentators don’t have to wonder why our electorate does not make intelligent choices in picking our leaders.

This is probably a long shot but I am hereby proposing another type of teleserye, wherein we dramatize selected and well-known Filipino classic literary works (novels and short stories) by famous Filipino writers such as Nick Joaquin, F. Sionil Jose, Bienvenido Santos, Wilfredo Nolledo, Kerima Polotan, Estrella Alfon, Edgardo Reyes, Rogelio Sikat, Efren Abueg, just to name a few who are at the top of my memory-challenged mind right now. So many great Filipino novels are languishing on shelves of libraries: Dugo sa Bukang Liwayway, Ang Mundong Ito Ay Lupa, The Pretenders, Villa Magdalena, Poon, Woman Who Had Two Navels, The Bamboo Dancers and more. And for crying out loud, why not adapt award-winning Palanca plays, many of which have never been staged or produced? 

Maybe we can dramatize each story to run for a few weeks or months, but let the program be flexible, basing it on the natural and logical progress of the adapted story.

I am sure having a drama program like this will go a long way in bringing these masterpieces to a wider audience, or the new generation, who I understand have been shunning reading these works in favor of handheld mobile devices.

Why not? I’ve been there and I’ve done it decades ago, at ABS-CBN under the late Genny Lopez during the old pre-Martial Law days. The big guns of ABS-CBN then were Jun Hizon, Jimmy Navarro, Ben Aniceto and Frankie Evangelista. I was given the opportunity to direct a program called Obra Maestra, which served as a window or a vehicle for world masterpieces and Filipino literary classics adapted and made accessible to Filipino TV viewers. I remember we dramatized such works as Rashomon, Wuthering Heights, The Visit by Durenmatt, Medea and others. Our acting talents then included Charito Solis, Vic Silayan, Dindo Fernando, Ronald Remy, Nestor de Villa, Nida Blanca, Armando Goyena, Tony Santos Sr. and other greats.

Mind you, that program enjoyed high audience ratings. That was because we did not present them as literary masterpieces to be treated with awe and reverence. Rather, we focused on the stories. That was the key. Ignore the fact that they were written by literary serious artists. Just zero in on the fact that these works have the elements of great and compelling storytelling. Isn’t that what makes any work appealing?

So in conclusion, the positive acceptance of Heneral Luna throws a gauntlet on the stage of the entertainment world. The Filipino audience is not intelligence-challenged. It’s time to raise the ante by offering them films and TV dramas that engage them emotionally and intelligently. And who knows, by igniting their brain synapses more frequently, they may start thinking and making decisions with greater discernment, such as in selecting our future leaders. It could be the key to the bright future we’ve all been wishing for.

 

 

ACIRC

ANG MUNDONG ITO AY LUPA

ARMANDO GOYENA

BAMBOO DANCERS

BEN ANICETO AND FRANKIE EVANGELISTA

BIENVENIDO SANTOS

BUKANG LIWAYWAY

CHARITO SOLIS

DINDO FERNANDO

FILIPINO

HENERAL LUNA

Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with