During the Senate hearing on the budget that will be appropriated for the film industry, actor Tirso Cruz III voiced his helplessness on how the movie industry in the Philippines is degenerating into nothingness.
He implied that the production of Filipino films is getting lesser and lesser due to the intense competition from production outfits abroad. Films from other countries that are streaming on social media, specifically Korean telenovelas, movies, and sitcoms have more Filipino patrons than those produced here.
It was at this point that Sen. Jinggoy Estrada perhaps, out of sheer frustration, expressed his desire that these foreign made telenovelas be banned in the Philippines so that Filipino artists may have the opportunity to show their innate talents.
He continued by saying, “In my observation, if we continue to show Korean telenovelas, it’s the Koreans that our countrymen admire and our Filipino artists lose their jobs.”
For his unguarded remark, Estrada is eating a lot of flak. He touched on a sensitive matter that appeals not only to the heart of our society but also to the sentiment of the Filipinos.
Can you imagine depriving Filipinos the natural fun and emotional excitement of watching “Crashlanding On You?” or “My Love From The Stars?” or “It’s Okay To Not To Be Okay?” These are classic series that transcend cultural barriers. These telenovelas are considered worldwide as must-watch.
Had Estrada been more prudent in observing the fanaticism of the viewing public and their love for Korean telenovelas, he would have relented. But it’s too late. The hurt had been done. That he relented does not cure the injury that he inflicted. He can only thank the stars that he did not make the comment during an election period. Otherwise, he would surely have been voted out.
In fairness, the senator is correct in his observation. However, his comment is ill-timed. Korean telenovelas are its highest rating and its patronage is unparalleled. Korean telenovelas and movies are already deeply embedded in our culture that to ban it is like taking away food served on the table. It is, therefore, understandable that there is a general howl against the banning of Korean telenovelas since these have become a part and parcel of the everyday life of the average Filipino.
Why did we fall in love with Korean telenovelas? Korean telenovelas are what kept us entertained during the hardest lockdowns that were imposed on us. It is what kept our sanity intact in the midst of the mental stress and unnatural events wrought by the pandemic. It is what stirred our conversation and allowed us to open our lines of communication. It kept us in suspenseful animation on what to expect next thereby giving us hope and a desire to exist for another day.
As for the local movie industry and telenovelas, it can take care of itself. It has its own fan base, no matter how corny it may be.
Besides, it is not like it the first time that it is competing against foreign telenovelas. As early as the 1990s, local telenovelas were already challenged by Mexican and American sitcoms. Yet, it survived and to this date, it is being watched by many households. The entry of Korean telenovelas is but a normal occurrence in the market where the production and showing of movies is an incident of competition.
Hence, if the Filipino movie industry wants to survive, it must at least approximate the manner by which the Koreans produce their own which spares no amount and it is always on the first degree.
If Filipino producers can do the same, if they can make telenovelas and movies that are world-class in its cinematography and acting, if they can make its endings less predictable and shun unnecessary violence and sex, if it not as lengthy as it is, then, there is no need to reinforce its production.
There will be no need to cancel out its competitors since, on its own, it will be highly appreciated.