I’m not clear on how it all began, really. I have always wanted TV series that incorporated Philippine history and culture and not just, you know, the typical rich boy meets poor girl and they live happily ever after dramas. Something more than the usual stuff I’d been seeing on my TV screen since I was old enough to watch TV.
I’m a fan of Korean dramas. Especially the sageuks. Gorgeous. Then one day I was in an internet cafe and heard some kids who were playing DoTA saying “There it goes, i-Jumong mo! [Jumong it!]” I was like “Whaaat, Jumong is a verb now?” I started hearing Korean references everywhere. “You cook so well you’re like Jang Geum.” “You’re such a villainess, you’re worse than Mishil.” Then my roommate, who does not even know how many provinces there are in Davao Region, started to explain to me about the kingdoms of Silla, Baekje and Goguryeo after watching Song of the Prince. I said, “That does it. Why are people now so interested in Korean history and culture even when they don’t notice their own?”
I read Cristina Tantengco’s “Riding the Korean wave” series of articles on the Philippine Online Chronicles (1 | 2 | 3| 4| 5| 6 ), in which she tried to explain this phenomenon of Korea’s success in exporting its culture, and wondered if we Filipinos could also be that successful.
I also stumbled upon Dramabeans, in which the bloggers dissect Korean dramas and offer insights into language and culture. I learned the nuances of “oppa” and “noona,” and that the Hong sisters love meta. And thought: Why doesn’t anyone do that for Pinoy dramas? Here I’ve been ranting about the lack of new material [remakes of Gulong ng Palad, Mara Clara, even Marimar and Full House, for goodness's sake].
Then Amaya came up. And I thought: Hey, maybe this is a good place to start.
I’ll start by saying that I’m not really a huge drama fan, nor even a huge TV fan. For the record: the last TV series that I actually watched was Desperate Housewives (and just only the first season), and I never really got to follow any weekday Filipino TV drama in the past few years.
(At least my performance when it comes to movie-watching ain’t that dismal – Cinema One is an integral part of weekend viewing at home; despite the fact that I’m not really the type of person that regularly watches movies, either. But that’s another story altogether.)
And I blame several things for that – my ultra-short attention span (I rarely have the patience to watch an entire series), my work sked (I get home around 9 or 10 PM), and my choice to go online instead, leaving the TV to the four other people at home.
The only times I really get to watch anything are on the buses I ride home, which shows random free TV channels apart from the standard action movie. Shows that I got to watch included the dubbed version of Korea’s Baker King and the locally-produced Jillian: Namamasko Po. After a few episodes from these two vastly different series, I ended up thinking that while Pinoy dramas aren’t that good, they aren’t that bad, either; in the same way that not all Korean dramas are great.
It was also only on the bus that I got to watch the Amaya teaser; at first, I was hesitant about watching the show, since it starred Marian Rivera and I never really liked her as an actress. Then there was the question of its timeslot, too. I thought that I’d just catch it on the bus home, if ever.
Around that time, I got to read this brilliant piece by Ina Santiago on pop TV, which can be summed up as you can’t criticize what you don’t watch. While I don’t always go rambo mode and criticize local shows, I’ll admit that this piece made me rethink my viewing habits. (That, and it also made me regret not watching I ♥ You Pare again, because aside from the fact that the premise was interesting, Marc Abaya was there. *swoon*)
Then Laya posted a link to her blog post about Amaya on Plurk. After a few frantic chat sessions and a bit of convincing (fine, I can take Marian as long as there’s a Sid Lucero strolling around on my screen), this project was born.
And I hope that this is just the start of something better – if not more original Pinoy TV series, then at least a more educated discussion on the state of Pinoy TV.