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to see how the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team performs in tuneup matches now that their Jones Cup invitation has been withdrawn.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.