entertainment, news, Philippines, television

On F4 and Taiwanese-Filipino Relations

Meteor Garden

Back in the day: Young Filipinos were introduced to F4 and Shan Cai, introducing the term Asianovela to the lexicon of Philippine television. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over a decade ago, Filipino television audiences were introduced to a male pop quartet from Taiwan named F4. The group composed of Jerry Yan, Vanness Wu, Ken Chu and Vic Zhou captivated Filipinos with their charisma, talent and good looks. The group made waves thanks to the Asianovela Meteor Garden and subsequent sequels Meteor Rain and Meteor Garden II, whose broadcast rights were acquired by ABS-CBN in 2003 and were aired to popular acclaim. Their popularity in the archipelago was boosted further with the presence of Shan Cai in the Asianovela, helping F4 become cult figures in the Philippines.

These days, Taiwanese-Filipino relations were strained at worst, in large part to the alleged shooting incident that killed a Taiwanese fisherman. Things got to a head when Taiwanese officials did not accept the apology of President Noynoy Aquino, and it only got worse after they imposed sanctions against the Philippines. In sports, Jones Cup organizers withdrew the Philippines’ invitation to compete in the Jones Cup this year, denying their chances of a repeat.

Not long ago, F4 was greeted enthusiastically by Filipino fans when they performed at the Araneta Coliseum behind nearly 20,000 spectators. The euphoria eventually died down when Koreanovelas took over television sets, but F4 mania had earned its place among the great moments in Filipino television lore.

Just imagine if the quartet decided to return and perform again in the Philippines while the country is trying to mend wounds with Taiwan. Would the state of Taiwanese-Filipino relations enable F4 to return to the country again after nearly a decade? I think so, but would the Taiwanese allow one of their most popular stars to perform in the archipelago? That would be a 25-75 probability based on the countries’ diplomatic relations and security concerns. For now, the possibility of F4 (now JVKV due to copyright issues) returning to the country is still in the rear view mirror.

It will also be interesting to see how the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team performs in tuneup matches now that their Jones Cup invitation has been withdrawn. Would it help, or would it hurt? If it’s the latter, that would be a huge blow in their chances to win the 2013 FIBA Asia Tournament. The only hope for the Philippine basketball team is to prepare and move on, and avoid any distraction.

Taiwan and the Philippines are currently in the state of diplomatic uncertainty. Politics aside, keep in mind how the tiny island was able to contribute to Filipino culture thanks to four good-looking guys starring in Meteor Garden. And a decade after they first invaded television sets in the country, F4 mania lives on.

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entertainment, Philippines, television

Willie Revillame, Noontime’s Worst Nightmare

The ever-controversial Willie Revillame has made his decision to leave the noontime landscape in October 2013. The entire nation should be relieved. (Photo credit: Keywordspeak.com)

Three years ago, Willie Revillame left ABS-CBN on a sour note and signed with TV5. The young network owned by Manny V. Pangilinan was looking to freshen up and provide alternative programming away from the established giants ABS-CBN and GMA 7, and he sought out Revillame to lead the budding product. This led to Willing Willie, which made its debut shortly after Revillame signed his contract.

Unlike its fellow weekday variety shows at the time, Willing Willie aired on the early evening timeslot dominated by news programs and teleseryes. From the beginning the show proved to be controversial, as evidence by a reported feud among Revillame’s dancers, a copyright infringement suit from ABS-CBN, and the now-infamous ‘macho dance’ involving a six-year-old child. It was the latter event that caught the attention of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, leading to the program’s month-long hiatus in April 2011. MTRCB subsequently suspended the program retroactive to the planned hiatus.

Revillame then resumed hosting on a nightly basis, this time renaming his program as Wil Time Big Time. However, by then the controversies surrounding him took its toll on the program’s ratings. Worse, the live airing of the program affected TV5’s other programming, notably their teleserye and reality shows. With the variety show ineffective in the evening timeslot, Revillame had no choice but to finally move to the traditional afternoon slot. Wil Time Big Time was finally pulled on January 5, 2013.

Just 21 days later, Revillame returned to the afternoon slot with Wowowillie. The show’s title was a partial tribute to Revillame’s former ABS-CBN program Wowowee, again featuring mostly the same elements used from that show. However, like Revillame’s previous TV5 programs, it was a ratings failure. This time it couldn’t beat out ABS-CBN’s Be Careful With My Heart and Showtime, and GMA 7’s Eat! Bulaga. Worse, Revillame had to endure another controversy after a cleavage shot of one of his dancers was taken notice by the MTRCB, and subsequently slapped a three-month probation. In addition, Revillame fired Ethel Booba after a backstage incident between the two.

Then came his announcement that he will pull his show off the air once his contract with TV5 expires in October. It was a relief that he allowed himself not to go back hosting again after all the bad things that he has done to the national viewing audience. For TV5, it was a big signing gone wrong, and they regret it.

From the start Revillame has been a public relations nightmare. Just recall the Wowowee tragedy of 2006, then the infamous six-year-old boy’s dance five years later, and you take a look at how Revillame was never able to recover from the pitfalls that he endured since becoming the lead dog in his programs. The eight years of Willie Revillame the solo artist has been one of the worst periods in history of variety show programming. Luckily we have Vice Ganda, Vhong Navarro, Anne Curtis and Kim Atienza on Showtime, and Tito, Vic, Joey and pals on Eat! Bulaga to keep us entertained.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Pinoy Pride and the Growth of Boxing

One of ABS-CBN‘s more recent sports series is the Pinoy Pride series. Each installment features boxers from the ALA Promotions pitted against foreign foes, with the focus towards exposing these boxers to Filipino boxing fans and showcasing their skills inside the ring. So far, 20 installments of the series have been aired, the most recent of which occurred Saturday night.

The 20th installment saw Jason Pagara retain his WBO International Junior Welterweight title via unanimous decision over Mexico’s Aaron Herrera. Jimrex Jaca also won via unanimous decision by beating Jose Emilio Perea of Mexico to retain the WBO Oriental Junior Welterweight title, while Genesis Servania knocked out Indonesian Isaac Junior in the third round of the super bantamweight bout.

The Pinoy Pride series is the latest of many live sports anthologies focusing on the sport of boxing. After the great Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde gave Filipino boxing fans something to cheer for in the 1960s, the sport’s popularity in the country declined somewhat during Martial Law. However, the 1990s saw renewed growth in the sport, led by world champions Luisito Espinosa and Gerry Penalosa. It was during the run of Vintage Sports‘ Blow by Blow that fans were introduced to a then-19-year-old Manny Pacquiao, whose personality and skill captivated the crowd. The sport’s popularity and enthusiasm would grow even higher once Pacquiao earned the first of many world championships.

In the early 2000s, aside from Sunday afternoon variety shows like SOP and ASAP, there were a sprinkling of boxing-related programs being aired. Among the most notable programs were ‘In This Corner’ on PTV-4 and ‘Fistorama’ on IBC-13. However, it was through a signature that ABS-CBN and ALA Promotions released the Pinoy Pride series, showcasing up-and-coming boxing stars competing for world championships and national recognition.

The Pinoy Pride series started airing in 2010 at the height of Filipino boxing’s global recognition. At that point, Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire were the flagbearers of the sport, holding a world championship in their respective weight class. Although ABS-CBN have aired boxing specials in the past, notably the Donaire bouts, it was with this series that further raised interest in the sport. The series is credited for raising the profiles of up-and-coming world champions Rey ‘Boom-Boom’ Bautista, AJ Banal, Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes and Milan Melindo. If not for Pinoy Pride, boxing would have never been the same after Pacquiao and Donaire.

Plans are currently underway for Pinoy Pride 21. At this point, it is safe to say that Pinoy Pride extended ABS-CBN’s profile in sports coverage, while giving boxing greater coverage to Filipino fans.

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hits, music, songs, United States

Billboard Hot 100 – June 1, 2013

Here are the Top 10 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of June 1, 2013.

1. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton – Can’t Hold Us. No.1 last week.

2. P!nk feat. Nate Ruess – Just Give Me A Reason. No. 2 last week.

3. Justin Timberlake – Mirrors. No. 3 last week.

4. Bruno Mars – When I Was Your Man. No. 4 last week.

5. Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko – Stay. No. 5 last week.

6. Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly – Cruise (remix). No. 10 last week.

7. Selena Gomez – Come & Get It. No. 6 last week.

8. Imagine Dragons – Radioactive. No. 8 last week.

9. Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX – I Love It. No. 9 last week.

10. Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky. No. 15 last week.

The entire compilation of the Top 10 songs for June 1, 2013 can be viewed below.

Our thanks to BillboardClassic for providing us this week’s Billboard Hot 100 Top 10.

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cartoon, entertainment, Philippines, television

Anime Classics: Doraemon

One of the greatest Anime creations ever, Doraemon is deemed a cultural icon throughout Japan, and a recognizable character worldwide. (Illustration courtesy of Fujiko Fujio)

Every morning I tuned in to GMA 7 to watch Doraemon, and I just kept laughing. There is this blue robotic cat named Doraemon and his sidekick Nobita, who turned to him for help and advice, mostly for the wrong reasons. And there are Nobita’s friends, namely Shizuka, Suneo and Takeshi.  Takeshi, in the Filipino dub of  the anime, is named ‘Damulag’ or fat. For some reason, I still enjoy the program’s comedic value with the emphasis on moral lessons and educational topics.

GMA 7 has been airing Doraemon in the Philippines for over a decade, albeit on an intermittent basis. GMA Network continues to have the rights to the Doraemon anime, so even though they would stop airing for a while, they would keep the rights for future airings. They have also aired Doraemon feature films, albeit in three-part episodes.

The anime is created by Fujiko Fujio, who published the manga for 27 years. The television programs, through three different incarnations, have been airing since 1973, mostly through the TV Asahi network.  Nearly 50 Doraemon feature films have also been released. The Doraemon character is popular around the world, particularly in its native Japan, regardless of generations. In the Philippines, Doraemon merchandise have been a hit with children and adults alike, from keychains to bags and t-shirts, and even ringtones in cellphones.

One of my favorite Doraemon items is the time carpet. Doraemon and Nobita would go inside the latter’s drawer with the time carpet in hand, and then go time traveling, either to the past or to the future. Doraemon’s emphasis on studying both the past and the future has been a subject of discussion during every episode, and with it comes the experience and knowledge that Nobita learned through each of his travels. Another Doraemon trademark is the food dorayaki, used as a plot device in most episodes.

The secret of Doraemon is in his belly pocket. This is where he retrieves a gadget for Nobita to use in an effort to solve his dilemma. Sometimes however, Nobita would use that object at his own risk, and whenever Suneo and Takeshi sneak in, they would either steal or take advantage of Nobita’s object. Oftentimes it would be Nobita’s mother who scolded him for using the item for the wrong reason. This is where the moral lesson comes in, and it is usually up to Doraemon to remind Nobita of those lessons.

The humorous tone, creative storylines, and the moral lessons that come with it ensured the anime’s popularity and critical acclaim. Even as the manga published its last issue in 1996, its continued exposure through television, film, promotional appearances and merchandise kept Doraemon into the conscience of every Japanese. Today Doraemon is considered one of the greatest creations in the world of Japanese anime.

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entertainment, music, television, United States

Why American Idol Fizzled?

 

American Idol

Season 12 of American Idol was the show’s lowest rated ever, but contestants were not the only reason why. (Title card courtesy of FOX Broadcasting Company)

For 12 years, American Idol was the premier singing competition in the US. However, the show is facing a lot of competition from related reality programs such as The Voice and The X-Factor. In season 12, Idol’s dominance seem to completely fade.

 

There were some factors considered on why American Idol suddenly became stale and boring. First was the change in judges. For most seasons, the judges consist of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. The chemistry of the three judges, along with Cowell’s outspoken remarks regarding the contestants, boosted Idol’s popularity and critical acclaim, to the point that it became one of the top-rated shows in the country. However, from Season 8 onwards, constant judge replacements, namely Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, caused Idol to lose some of its audience, while retaining its ranks among America’s most watched programs.

 

Season 12 was the least-rated Idol season in the show’s history, owing to the lack of chemistry among the judges. It didn’t help that Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj were involved in a reported feud, and that Randy Jackson announced that he was leaving Idol. The ‘boring’ state of Idol caused its downfall from a top-rated show to an afterthought, constantly beaten and scarred by NBC’s The Voice.

 

Also hurting Idol were unexpected eliminations. Angie Miller, a fan favorite, was eliminated in the penultimate results show. Miller had been a constant front-runner for most of Season 12, even receiving an overwhelming response to her performance of ‘You Set Me Free’. In the end, she was eliminated despite performing a passionate and poignant rendition of ‘Never Gone’, causing fans and critics alike to call it a ‘shocker’ and a ‘surprise result’.

 

Miller would’ve won American Idol if not for the judges. Not surprisingly, only a few viewers tuned in to watch Candice Glover win. Glover’s performance wasn’t bad by any means, but not good enough to help Idol’s cause in terms of ratings.

 

Finally the lack of creativity and appeal caused Idol’s downfall. Their song setlist has always been limited at best, thus whenever songs heard on previous seasons were sung again, audiences would tune out. Also, judges tend to pick some contestants who ‘couldn’t’ sing but can hit the high notes, regardless of whether they look pretty. Finally the predictability factor comes to play. While The Voice continues to churn out new notes in every season, Idol’s ‘tried and tested’ formula from auditions to the finals proved repetitive and lacked a new wrinkle.

 

With the disaster that is American Idol Season 12 now in the rear view mirror, the producers of the program would have to think of new ways to make the show a hit again. From new judges and themes to more attractive and silky-smooth contestants, producers would have over five months of preparation and tinkering in the hopes of making Idol a hit again. For now though, American Idol’s most disappointing season in its history will always be remembered and vilified for its issues and off-stage remarks that characterized it.

 

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