action, drama, entertainment, lifestyle, Philippines, Taiwan, television

Remembering Sunday Chinese Theater on RPN-9

Before there were Asianovelas on the big networks, and before the news invaded RPN-9 (now 9TV), there was ‘Sunday Chinese Theater’.

During the 1990s, RPN-9 aired the said program block at around 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. As the title suggests, the program featured Chinese drama series that were undubbed and with little edits.

‘Sunday Chinese Theater’ primarily catered to the Chinese Filipino community, considered as one of the largest ethnic groups in the country.

One of the more popular Chinese dramas aired on ‘Sunday Chinese Theater’ happen to be ‘Justice Bao’, whose title sequence was iconic among older television viewers.

The series focused on the legend of Bao Zheng, a Chinese government official during the Song Dynasty. Bao was instrumental in upholding justice and honesty in ancient China, while punishing various erring citizens for their troublesome deeds.

‘Justice Bao’ lasted 236 episodes in total, and ran for much of 1993 in Taiwan. RPN would later air the series during the mid-to-late 90s, after which ABC-5 (now TV5) picked up the series (as ‘Judge Bao’) and aired it from 2007-08, albeit dubbed in Filipino.

In addition to ‘Justice Bao’ and other Chinese dramas, ‘Sunday Drama Theater’ also aired a cooking show hosted by the legendary Fu Pei-mei. Older viewers should recall the famous banner written in Chinese characters as part of its set.

Fu’s cooking show was aired to close out ‘Sunday Drama Theater’ for several years. And along the way, thousands of dishes were featured and created thanks large part of Fu’s iconic wok.

After its initial run on RPN-9, ABS-CBN picked up the series and aired them after ‘Honey, Watch Out’ on Saturday mornings. Both Fu’s cooking show and ‘Honey, Watch Out’, like ABC-5’s airing of ‘Justice Bao’, were dubbed in Filipino (see example of a Tagalized version of Fu’s cooking show above).

Today, undubbed Chinese programs are now seen on the Chinese Entertainment Channel (CEC), which is exclusive to SkyCable subscribers.

Gone but not forgotten, ‘Sunday Chinese Theater’ will always be identified among RPN-9’s best shows. For any kid who used to channel surf in the 90s, looking at a bearded Chinese judge wielding a stick and a chef tossing her ingredients in a steel wok for a few moments will always be remembered in their minds, and in their hearts forever.

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20 thoughts on “Remembering Sunday Chinese Theater on RPN-9

  1. James Ty III says:

    I remember those Chinese shows. German Moreno’s early Sunday show, Germicide, was aired on GMA 7 against those Chinese programs back then.

  2. KG says:

    Noong time pa na nasa ere ang Judge Bao, andyan ang mga commercials ng Regent tulad ng Tempura!

    Sarap balikan yung Judge Bao kaya lang puro re-runs na lang ang HWO tuwing Sabado ng umaga.

  3. Gears says:

    Is “Honey Watch Out” the TV drama (also known as the short-lived Taiwanese drama ‘Hi! Honey’) still airing on ABS-CBN?

    There are at least two more Chinese entertainment channels airing on Philippine cable systems; most well-known of them include STAR Chinese Channel and Phoenix Chinese Channel.

    Aside from Fu’s cooking show, are there any more Chinese-language (not locally-produced or movie block) shows still airing on Philippine terrestrial TV channels?

    • 1) Yes, after Kabuhayang Swak na Swak on Saturdays

      2) Even with the move to digital cable, CEC on SkyCable stayed the same graphic-wise. They didn’t change a thing. CEC, Star Chinese and Phoenix Chinese are only available on more expensive SkyCable platforms.

      3) As far as I know, undubbed Chinese programs are no longer being aired. Blame it on cable TV.

  4. I can only remember Fu Pei-Mei on Channel 9. Back on my childhood days, her cooking show was undubbed and non-subtitled.

    Mrs. Fu passed away a decade ago due to pancreatic cancer at 73.

  5. ramones1986 says:

    Not just on RPN, but also on both ABS-CBN and TV5 when it was then known as ABC.

    As most of the dramas shown on the said slot came from Taiwan (and in Mandarin), they served as predecessors to the Asian drama phenomenon that started in 2003 with Taiwan’s “Meteor Garden”.

    And notice the difference between the latter and the earlier TW dramas shown on a Sunday morning

  6. Jake Jacinto says:

    For me, I think a Chinese theater every Sunday is a better suggestion to the declining GMA, aside from the usual Koreanovela reruns.

  7. Jake-jake Jacinto says:

    Some of the TV commercials usually seen in these Chinese Variety Shows include Boysen Paints, Champola Wafer Sticks, Zonrox Bleach, Green Cross Alcohol and Cologne.

  8. g says:

    Hello guys, tatanong ko lng po sana baka alam nyu ung title nung sumunod na Chinese series sa judge bao, sa RPN din po. Meron p po kcng sumunod dun eh, alam nyu po b title nun?

    salamat po. Bata pa po kc ako nun eh. 🙂

    • Sorry I don’t recall either. When ABC 5 aired Judge Bao Tagalized in the mid-2000s, we knew that was the show RPN used to air in the 90s. Others, we don’t know, either because of lack of memory or lack of interest in Chinese-spoken programming.

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