Philippine television drama

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Philippine television drama, also known as teleserye, Pinoy telenovelas, Filipino telenovelas or P-drama, is a television form of melodramatic serialized fiction. Teleserye is rooted from two words: "tele," which is short for "television," and "serye," a Tagalog term for "series" and "drama" for drama.

Teleseryes share some characteristics and have similar roots with classic soap operas and telenovelas, yet the teleserye has evolved into a genre with its own unique characteristics, often working as a reflection of the social realism of the Filipinos. Teleseryes are aired in prime-time five days a week. They attract a broad audience which crosses age and gender lines, and they command the highest advertising rates in Philippine television. They last anywhere from three months to a year, or even longer, depending on its rating.

Teleseryes are currently produced by ABS-CBN, GMA Network, and TV5. Some of them are co-produced by TAPE Inc., Dreamscape Entertainment Television, VIVA Entertainment, GMA Films and Star Cinema.

Other forms of Philippine dramas include "serials" and "anthologies," which are usually shown on a weekly basis. These dramas are also intended to air a finite number of episodes usually lasting one season depending on the ratings.


Soap operas in the Philippines originated when Gulong ng Palad was first heard on the radio in 1949. The genre then expanded into television in the early 1960s. The first Philippine TV soap opera was Hiwaga sa Bahay na Bato in 1963, and was produced by ABS-CBN. Larawan ng Pag-ibig, Prinsipe Amante, and many others soon followed.[1]

The Radio Serial was also the longest-running spanned serial that spanned for decades by the co-writer and revival writer Loida Virina in the mid-1970s. The story was also made into a soap starring Marianne Dela Riva as Luisa and Ronald Corveau as Carding in the decade where rising soaps began. It also made stars out of the young Romnick Sarmenta and also Beth Bautista who was a model and famous actress in the 1980s. The soap also starred veteran actress and character actress Caridad Sanchez whose time in showbiz has spanned for more than six decades till present. In the early 1980s, RPN-9 produced Maria Flordeluna, starring award-winning actress Janice de Belen. The cast also included "Drama King" Dindo Fernando and award-winning actress and director Laurice Guillen. Also in the early 1980s, GMA Network produced the hit tale Anna Liza starring child actress and FAMAS awardee Julie Vega. The series spanned for 5 years but due to Julie Vega's death the series had an unfinished storyline and a two-hour special. The series was controversial due to its big support of viewers to fellow actress and TV rival Janice De Belen.

Primetime Power[edit]

In the 1990s, television dramas boosted many careers of many but long-running dramas were the ones that stood out due to its popularity. From 1992–1997, the ABS-CBN drama Mara Clara gained major popularity due to the intense rivalry between Judy Ann Santos as the protagonist Mara and villain Gladys Reyes as the evil Clara. The series was one of the longest-running soaps of the 1990s despite many time changes and also moving to the Primetime slot at 7pm. It also spawned a successful movie and another much loved soap which ran from 1997–1999, Esperanza. A film was also made after this drama, making Judy Ann Santos become known as the "Primetime Queen." The telenovela Valiente ran for 7 years; 3 years on ABS-CBN and 4 years on GMA-7. During the afternoon block in mid-1997, Mula Sa Puso gave fame to the second "Primetime Queen," Claudine Barretto where she played the heiress Via in the 2-year-long soap, together with her leading men Rico Yan and Diether Ocampo, and villain Princess Punzalan as Selina, the most influential character of the series. While the GMA dramas are Villa Quintana with lead stars Donna Cruz as Lynette Quintana and Keempee De Leon as Isagani Samonte with Isabel Rivas as Stella Quintana which airs from 1995-1997. And another was Ikaw Na Sana with lead characters Angelu De Leon as Blanca Rosales Perez / Susan Saavedra and Bobby Andrews as Rafael Huico with Gladys Reyes as Angela Rosales which airs 1997-1998 and a film was made after this drama.

From 2000–2002, the series Pangako Sa'yo was also broadcast internationally in many networks across Asia. To pit against its rival network, GMA Network started producing their own set of prometime soap opera starting with the top-rating drama series, Ikaw Lang Ang Mamahalin starring drama actress Angelika dela Cruz which aired from 2001 to 2002 and Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga starring Dingdong Dantes. In 2003, ABS CBN produced one if it's grandest primetime soap series, Sana'y Wala Nang Wakas, the series stars Jericho Rosales and Kristine Hermosa with Diether Ocampo and Angelika dela Cruz. The series marked the first time the televiewers can choose the story's ending through text messaging. It was successfully shown in Malaysia and other Asian countries. In 2006, Gulong ng Palad ran from January to May; its cast included Kristine Hermosa as Luisa, TJ Trinidad as Carding and Cherie Gil as Philiomena "Menang" Medel, the corrupt town mayor and also the main antagonist of the series. The role of Mimi was given to Andrea del Rosario and Rio Locsin as Caridad "Idad" Santos. The series was popular amongst international viewers, through TFC. In February to June 2007, the remake of Maria Flordeluna starred young actress Eliza Pineda as the titular character. It also starred Albert Martinez as Leo Alicante, Eula Valdez as Mary Jo Esperitu and John Estrada as Gary Alvarado. The series ran for 93 episodes and won the PMPC Star Awards Best Television Series in 2008. In 2009, the series remake of AnnaLiza was shelved which was to star Maja Salvador and Jason Abalos, but finally revived again in 2013 (with child star Andrea Brillantes in the title role). The family-oriented romantic drama Be Careful with my Heart became the longest-running teleserye (since Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan in 2001-2003) that ran from July 9, 2012 until November 28, 2014 with a total of 622 episodes.

Award-winning dramas[edit]

In the mid-1990s, drama became more acclaimed and in the 2000s powerful dramas such as Pangako Sa'yo, Saan Ka Man Naroroon and Sa Dulo Ng Walang Hanggan raved the airwaves. The political drama Kung Mawawala Ka also became one of the most loved powerful dramas which revolved on politics and even on issues of corruption. The series was headed by one of the most influential dramatic actors Eddie Garcia where he played a powerful mayor who has three wives with different children. The show showed the dramatic abilities of actresses Hilda Koronel, Liza Lorena and Gloria Diaz as the powerful wives. The series ran from 2001–2002 and also won a PMPC Award from the Philippine Movie Press Club. It was also unrivaled to the ongoing television drama Pangako Sa'yo which also reached its end in 2002. The TV series Saan Ka Man Naroroon starring Claudine Barretto on lead role as Rosemarie Rosenda and Rosario won her acclaim for her ongoing roles and despite time conflict issues, she accepted the award.

Other classic dramas include Sa Dulo Ng Walang Hanggan (which also starred Claudine Barretto), a timeless love story of the undying love of Angeline Crisostimo/Angelina whose mistakes that appear in the present had also happened in the past; it uncovered the lies and the love of all around her which was actually reincarnated into the present. In 2005, film turned TV remake Panday which starred Jericho Rosales and Heart Evangelista and the remake of Mga Anghel na Walang Langit and Kampanerang Kuba which starred Anne Curtis were just a couple of the top trends of the year for ABS-CBN and for GMA-7 as it brought life to Darna, a role reprised by the most famous Darna of all time, Vilma Santos (in the late 1970s and early 1980s). In 2006, the "sineserye" Bituing Walang Ningning which starred Sarah Geronimo and Angelika de la Cruz, reprising the roles of Sharon Cuneta and Cherie Gil won prominence and also produced a concert. It also came to be known as having "The Grand Finale" as this was the first television series which had a finale split into 5 episodes on a finale week and also the highest-rated finale episodes for a musical/TV series. In 2007, GMA-7 remade the international telenovela MariMar which starred Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes. In 2006, three TV series became viral: the remake of the 1977–1985 soap opera Gulong ng Palad, the teleserye Sa Piling Mo and the series Maging Sino Ka Man. This series became popular internationally and boosted the careers of John Lloyd Cruz, Bea Alonzo, Sam Milby and Anne Curtis.

Exportation and success[edit]

The range of popularity of Philippine drama in the early 2000s had spun overseas, becoming popular throughout Southeast Asia, Africa and particularly in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Cambodia. These dramas, considered one of the country's most vital economic and cultural exports, are often dubbed into local languages, and sometimes has English and other foreign subtitles displayed when imported into those markets.

ABS-CBN has since started the exportation of their dramas, most likely classical dramas as they often have a universal message. Pangako Sa'yo ("My Promise to You") is one of the most successful Philippine dramas abroad. Prior to China, the story mesmerized people in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia and Africa. ABS-CBN also introduced a website called ABS-CBN International Sales,[2] for easy access to their shows. Other ABS-CBN shows like Sana Maulit Muli (Taiwan), Lobo (dubbed as She-Wolf: The Last Sentinel), Tayong Dalawa, Dahil May Isang Ikaw, Kahit Isang Saglit, Katorse, Mara Clara (remake), Magkaribal and Walang Hanggan were also exported.

GMA Network's Boys Next Door, a teen melodrama, was the first Philippine TV series aired in South Korea and 1994 Mexican remake MariMar was aired in Thailand, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Hawaii. Other GMA shows such as Habang Kapiling Ka, Kahit Kailan, Bakekang, Muli, Impostora, Mga Mata ni Anghelita and Dyesebel were also released in some countries in Southeast Asia and East Asia.


Today, Philippine drama has gained international recognition from international award-giving bodies, cementing the reputation of the Philippines among the world's top television drama producers. Most of these nominated dramas were from ABS-CBN. It started with Lobo, winning the Best Telenovela category in the 30th BANFF World Television Festival. Several dramas were also nominated in the International Emmy for the telenovela category, including ABS-CBN's Dahil May Isang Ikaw, Kahit Isang Saglit and GMA's Magdusa Ka and My Husband's Lover. Magkaribal of ABS-CBN was recently nominated in the 2011 New York Festivals TV and Film Awards. Another show, Eva Fonda managed to win awards from the Seoul International Drama Awards where also the lead actress Cristine Reyes managed to get a nomination as Best Leading Actress and a special award for the show.

See also[edit]