action, comedy, drama, entertainment, movies, Philippines, Taiwan, television

ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5 Unveil New Programs for the Summer

The ABS-CBN sexy drama series ‘Moon of Desire’ is just one of several programs to debut in time for the summer vacation.

Summer is right around the corner, and to kick off the hot-weather months, the ‘Big 3’ networks unveil some new programs to begin summer vacation.

Beginning today, ABS-CBN’s ‘Kapamilya Blockbusters’ block will be taken over by the re-run of ‘Meteor Garden’.  First aired in 2003, the Asianovela helped launch the career of F4 and popularize the genre in the Philippines. The highly-anticipated re-run of ‘Meteor Garden’ will be seen after another upcoming teleserye on the Kapamilya network.

‘Moon of Desire’, a new series starring Ellen Adarna, JC de Vera, Dominic Roque, Miguel Raval, and Meg Imperial, will replace the recently-concluded ‘Galema: Anak ni Zuma’. The series picks up from where ‘Galema’ left off, using the same formula of casting a lead female protagonist (Imperial) in an unusual predicament. This time around, Imperial’s character suffers from hypertrichosis, a condition where her entire body is covered with thick hair. ‘Moon of Desire’ premieres today after ‘It’s Showtime’.

Just as ABS-CBN replaces its movie block with ‘Meteor Garden’, GMA has decided to go the other way around. A week ago, ‘GMA Sinebabad’ replaced the Koreanovela ‘Tale of Arang’, and its first week saw a pair of Korean films (‘My Tutor Friend’, ‘A Moment to Remember’) air in two and three-part segments, respectively. After the conclusion of ‘Paraiso Ko’y Ikaw’,  ‘GMA Sinebabad’ will be expanded to a 90-minute format, featuring classic Filipino movies every weekday. ‘GMA Sinebabad’ airs before ’24 Oras’.

And finally on TV5, ‘Let’s Ask Pilipinas’ will be replaced by a ‘tawaserye’ called ‘Beki Boxer’. In this series, Alwyn Uytingco portrays the lead role of a gay boxer who tries to reclaim his family’s honor after his father was humiliated in the ring. Also starring Vin Abrenica, Danita Paner, Christian Vasquez, Onyok Velasco, John Regala, Joross Gamboa and Claire Hartell, ‘Beki Boxer’ airs tonight after ‘Aksyon’.

In the meantime, enjoy a beautiful summer vacation.


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Meteor Garden Is Still Alive, Ten Years After

‘Meteor Garden’ returns to Philippine television next week as part of ABS-CBN’s tenth anniversary celebration of the Asianovela.

More than ten years ago,  ‘Meteor Garden’ became the launching pad that would later become the Asianovela genre, and even after the series ended, its popularity among teenage Filipinos remains strong. Which is why ABS-CBN and Jeepney TV will bring back the original Taiwanese drama starring F4 and actress Barbie Hsu to the small screen starting next week, as part of its 10th anniversary of bringing the Asianovela to Philippine television.

The groundbreaking Asianovela was first introduced in May 2003, and within a month, it became one of the most-watched programs on the Kapamilya network. ‘Meteor Garden’ was so popular that it helped influence teenagers to copy the hairstyles and the wardrobe donned by Jerry Yan, Vic Chou, Vanness Wu and Ken Chu, as well as Barbie Hsu. F4 albums were also distributed to great success, and at the peak of F4-mania, the group even visited the Philippines at one point.

The success of ‘Meteor Garden’ forced GMA to answer with their own series in ‘My MVP Valentine’, starring another boyband in 5566. Unfortunately, it failed to measure up to the popularity of ‘Meteor Garden’, and as a result, GMA was forced to go to South Korea to acquire other Asianovela titles. It did, however, re-air ‘Meteor Garden’ in 2007, as part of its short-lived ‘mangaserye’ hour. Despite that, ‘Meteor Garden’ continues to be an iconic brand to the Kapamilya network.

In the weeks leading up to its return, ‘Meteor Garden’ and F4 became one of the top trending topics in the social media website Twitter. This only proves that even after a decade, fanaticism for the Taiwanese series remains on a high. And as the series re-airs next week, expect ‘Meteor Garden’ to once again become one of the top-rated programs of the year, and in the process attract a new generation of fans.

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.