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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.


41 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.

  9. Hindi ko po naabutan dati ang undubbed version ng Judge Bao sa RPN9, alam ko lang kasi sa ABC5 po na mayroon nagsasalita ng Tagalog. In 2005 before Judge Bao, ang unang Taiwanese TV series na kinukuha nila ay ang programang (Mr. Fighting – Fighting For Love) starring boy group 5566’s Tony Sun and Zax Wang and their leading ladies was girl duo group Sweetie’s Joanne Zeng and Esther Liu. For promoting that ay pumunta po sa Pilipinas ang 5566 aimed for duties na guests sila sa ilan mga palabas karamihan ay sa puro galing sa GMA 7 such as Eat Bulaga, S.O.P., Startalk, S Files, etc. but ABC 5 airing 2 hour special about the happenings stayed long days.

    • Speaking of GMA, 5566 also starred in My MVP Valentine na naging unang kakumpetensiya ng Meteor Garden. Unfortunately, F4 was too popular at that time.

      By the way, this was Judge Bao’s opening. If you were tuning in to RPN-9 in the 90s every Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m., you may very well remember this opening.

  10. Yes I know it, yesterday I’d listening this song and I also know who’s singing the show’s theme, Taiwanese male artist Hu Gua (according to Wikipedia Mandarin site).

    Meanwhile, I almost liked 5566 instead of F4 but both of them na kahit magkaribal po ang pagitan ay ayokong maisipan na nagkaroon ng away po thru their fans, Meteor Garden was too famous tsaka My MVP Valentine ganoon rin basta kabisado ko po ang mga eksenang pinapanood kada araw (it’s airing on the afternoon shift before news program).

    Last year’s Golden Bell Awards (Taiwan’s version of Oscars), after 8 years of breaking up 5566 reunited lead by Tony Sun and co-members Zax Wang, Jason Hsu and Sam Wang without their fifth person Rio Peng, an 8 minutes stage performance plus singing the phenomenon hit song Wo Nan Guo. Got this video link via YouTube and you must watch it, nakakadagdag po ako ng sobrang emotional kasi ‘yan ang pinagsimulan ko eh, 2nd grade school pa lang naalala ko tuloy ang pagkasikat po ng Taiwanese invasion sa Pilipinas, millennial year (2000’s) rocks!

    • 5566, to be honest, was an underrated group. Kaso na-overshadowed lang sa bansa natin dahil may F4. But like you said magaling ang parehong grupo.

      Unfortunately, nag-shift ang attention ng ABS at GMA to Korean series by the mid-2000s, probably due to the increasing population of Korean expats in the country. The only Taiwanese show that’s on free TV right now is Angel Eyes, at paulit-ulit pa rin itong ineere sa 2 every Saturday morning. IDK if Sky still has the Chinese Entertainment Channel though.

  11. This month CEC has it aired only on Destiny Cable, I got a Digital one which was channel 98.

    You almost forgot, last month po ang pagtatapos ng My Dearest Intruder starring Amber An and Malaysian-Chinese actor Melvin Sia (ABS-CBN) hindi lamang ang Angel Eyes ang nag-iisang umere po for Taiwanese Idol Drama pati sa binabanggit ko po.

  12. You’re right, nakakalungkot po sa akin eh! Sana next year sa GMA babalik ulit sa ere ang My MVP Valentine, it’s insane because ABS-CBN ang unang nagkaroon po ng ultimate throwback noong 2014 because of Meteor Garden then top trending pa po sa Twitter nationwide and norldwide. Tsk!

    • Unfortunately, My MVP Valentine did not become popular as GMA envisioned to. Yung mas sumikat sa kanila ay mga Koreanovelas like Jewel in the Palace, Full House, Kim Sam Soon, Stairway to Heaven, Jumong, Endless Love, Coffee Prince, The Baker King and others. Those dramas were even reaired more often samantalang yung My MVP Valentine naman ay kinalimutan na nila dahil obvious na hindi ito sumikat.

      Yun talaga ang totoo. Korean dramas are more popular here than Taiwanese ones, and unless you’re F4, chances are those Taiwanese dramas will not have an opportunity to shine again in our country.

  13. Speaking of you saying for Meteor Garden, the 2018 version confirmed to be airing on ABS-CBN after ko nabasa po thru about newest casts revealed. More likely ang mga original casts (Barbie Xu, F4) than the newcomers according to each peoples asking and especially, lahat nakatira po sa Mainland China NOT Taiwan hired by MG producer Angie Cai nagkaroon dati ang audition session para sa mga hopeful aspirants.

    • Can you rephrase your comment? Wala akong naintindihan sa sinabi mo. Are you saying na ibabalik nila ang original F4 at si Barbie instead of the new cast or did you just make that up? If they bring the original cast back malamang it will not appeal to younger audiences since they’re too old and unfit for a youth-oriented show like Meteor Garden.

  14. Basta you will watch it na lang po next year, I don’t threat to be giving a negative comments for them. Ika ‘nga parehas po tayo avid fan ng Meteor Garden walang problema, in conclusion pasensiya ka na kasi yung Tagalog ko madalas nagkamali.

  15. kyuzoaoi says:

    I remember seeing a Taiwanese variety show on ABS-CBN during the weekends when I was 7 years old or so, probably in 1995. From what I can remember, the host had mullet hair. The commercials are always Green Cross alcohol and liniment. I have Chinese ancestry but my mother is the last generation who learned Chinese at school, and I don’t speak Chinese except in mock-Chinese. Basically I am a totally assimilated Chinoy.

    That Judge Bao’s show is quite different when watched. My mother and uncles and aunts who mainly spoke Tagalog and Ilocano would tease me why I watched these shows when I could watch Super Sentai like Bioman (in which I watched in any case).

    And then Meteor Garden happened. Now I discovered what the late Chinese cook is talking about…she’s talking about her own life!

    • That was the beauty of Chinese/Taiwanese shows aired on ABS and RPN BACK then: it was to teach Chinoys how to be fluent in Chinese and to learn the nuances of Chinese culture. Nowadays, however, it’s a dying art with all the Korean dramas invading the small screen. Angel Eyes, a Taiwanese series, has been in rerun mode for years now and ABS has no plans of replacing said series. The only actual shows for Chinoys now are the lifestyle ones such as Chinoy TV.

      • kyuzoaoi says:

        Yes, it is a dying art. Must be also the racism of non-Chinese Filipinos. They didn’t know that Chinese Filipinos can be found at all rungs of society, not merely in the middle and upper class.

        When I saw the ABS-CBN schedule today, I am surprised and furious at how they gutted the entire anime block. In my elementary years, watching these cartoons made my day.

      • The existence of Yey, Animax and Aniplus, and the shift to online content made the disappearance of anime from Channel 2 possible. Even GMA’s anime are raking in lower ratings than before due to these trends.

        Still, regarding the decline of Chinese shows, changing tastes were also to blame. Internet and social media is also on the upswing and Chinoys find it easier to learn Chinese just by going to Google translator. No offense, but technology is opening these doors at the expense of tradition.

      • Anonymous says:

        Angel Wings and Angel Eyes are different shows, Ralph.
        Angel Eyes aired around 2014 on weekday afternoons, while the show you’re talking about, Angel Wings, has aired in Saturdays from 2014 to 2019.
        By the way, Honey Watch Out just returned back to that slot and is now on rerun mode again.
        Why can’t ABS-CBN just stop airing these Chinese shows. I mean, they also removed the Chinese Cooking segment and the only advertiser on that slot is Yakult.

  16. kyuzoaoi says:

    I agree.

    Also, I saw some Green Cross commercials being shown the pre-Meteor Garden Chinese programs in Channel 2 and Channel 9.

    I always associate them with these Chinese shows.

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