Friday, March 14, 2008

Korean Wave

What does an average Juan do when he is distressed by politics, demeaned by unemployment, depressed with poverty or drained by the routines of life? Does he:

(a) smoke weed
(b) drink like he has ten livers
(c) eat pork like he has no heart
(d) laugh

The answer may be all of the above depending on where you’re from. Among people I am acquainted with these days, it’s almost all of the above AND watching telenovelas. For the oppressed, depressed and suppressed Filipino, these shows offer a respite from normal life. They’re like modern weed. They can make you imagine things that don’t really happen in real life and mess with your brain. Of course, their main value is in their ability to help you forget your problems by making you commiserate with or rejoice at the troubles of lead characters.

In the Philippines the telenovela craze has come and gone in waves. The Filipino wave began decades ago when viewers were introduced to the formula: good vs. evil + lots of slapping, hair pulling, Vicks induced tears, nasal mucous + regional bias (probinsyanas in long skirts and city people in Levi’s) = good triumphing over evil without the prospect of a rematch.

This first wave was followed by the Mexicans. They had the same formula but executed it with more pomp, hair spray, fashion you wouldn’t wear if you were in your right mind and lots of gorgeous women that only our transvestite community can equal.

When we had our fill of unbelievable female beauty, the winds shifted and brought us the Taiwanese wave. Who could forget those strange men who had perfectly ironed hair that stayed in place despite adversity; smooth, white underarms despite their gender; and pore-free skins despite the nature of skin? The only great fault of Taiwanovelas was that they had men who were prettier than their ladies.

My preferred wave is the recent Korean invasion. Although I wouldn’t be caught dead following a Koreanovela (I have a reputation to uphold) I have caught snippets of their shows. I must admit. They are different and border on going against the norm in our country. 

I believe Koreanovelas are among the first to go beyond the typical external drama conflict where man vs. man equals hand to cheek contact and clumps of uprooted hair. They actually have complex characters that are not monochromatically plain good or plain evil. They actually have characters with personalities, evolving principles, changing motivations and inner conflicts that go beyond bowel constipation. In other words, they have created imaginary people that could very well be you or me with life stories that don’t always end happy like yours and mine.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to love my own. I’m just waiting for the right Filipino series. I have my hopes that we will have a better Filipino wave that I would actually want to be a follower of.

Spoiler Alert: I have an excuse to watch some parts of Tae Wang Sa Shin Gi/Legend. It is partly based on history and I am a lover of history. If you plan to watch it, prepare for an ending that will leave you either sad or clueless, as in, “What? Huh? Waaaaaa…?” The triangle they started doesn’t even have a resolution.


  1. wow me too sis grace pinapanood ko yn...bukod kc sa high quality ung effects mas maganda ung storya kesa sa ummm...sad to say gawang pinoy...hahaha...

  2. and based on my research the story is about a legend...mostly where koreans believe there land history starts...tama po b ko sis?

  3. I just don't watch koreanovela because
    a) Women are usually portrayed as the damsels who suffer from Men's dense, arrogant and self-righteous characters b) I'm cynical to love stories because it's usually obvious who are gonna end up together and the falling in love process is cliched and redundant c) koreans don't cry realistically, they manage to look beautiful even when they're bawling. Basically, it's like looking sad, only with water action. d) they waste too much time in front of the camera just moping in their misery. Seriously, I can't watch a koreanovela without fast-forwarding at some point.
    I admit there are some koreanovelas that deviate from these usual attributes, but I ain't wasting my time looking for THAT few in a billion. Though if you could refer me to some of the good ones ma'am I'd gladly check em out. ;-)
    Once again, your blogs are a literary satisfaction. You go ma'am! Reach them starz!

  4. oo bro. so sad to say nga. gusto ko sana may ganito rin tayong show about sa history natin. maganda rin naman ang story ng filipino people diba?

    oo yung story partly legend, partly historical. yung about the four gods talagang legend yun. pero totoo talaga yung character nung king. di lang tayo sure kung alin sa mga eksena ang nangyari talaga. according to history books namatay siya at the age of 39 after conquering a lot of places. :)

    by the way, sad talaga ang ending :(

  5. well mary, i think the semi-history based koreanovelas are better. this one in particular doesn't end happily for the "triangle"

    i also think that you are partly correct about the bawling thing. what i like about some of the stories though is that the people behind them actually took a lot of time developing chracter profiles, motivations and all the inner stuff that seem to be missing in our shows. even the idiotic coffee prince has carefully planned chracters. i thought the story was kinda thin but i took a peek at the production special and i was surprised that the director and actors were really into analysing the characters. you don't get that from Filipino shows. our characters have singular motivations. the good guy always stays good while the bad one is just intent on making everyone's life miserable. there are exceptions though. i think the one with bea and john lloyd (what's that show?) ALMOST had some form of deeper character development and deeper conflicts

  6. to: miss themary...about the womens in korea its part of there history kasi...gaya ng japan at ibang orient country medyo mababa tlga noon ang tingin nila sa babae at ang alam ko eh medyo hanggang ngaun...pero konti n lng ata...its obvious na ung ending eh alam n agad kung sino ang magkakatuluyan at hindi...pero ang mahirap talunin sa kanila eh twist na ngyayari sa storya...and about wasting time in front of the camera mopping around there faces kc part of there history din un eh...emotions showing in there faces...i recommend u watch this koreanovela"the legend"i really like this one...

  7. I try to stray away from series especially if they originate from a country who currently is trying to claim another land while already having a little trouble with a division of government (leading to separate countries) and then coming up with crazy ideas of fighting back such as conquering the Philippines through TV shows and Cebu city as well as commercializing the martial arts.

    It is always cool to watch an interesting show on TV but one thing I believe should be done instead of drooling over wanting to be a Starcraft over-playing race is developing the self to be as good or even better than what we see. It may sound delusional but we gotta take advantage of our own built-in divinity and bring out our full human potential. I really would like to emphasize this due to the fact that I myself have grown up to be a man of Theory over application. I've spent my early life in theory. With the rest of it, I will put energy into materializing such theories and therefore completing "I" the creation. Sure, you could end up being a kimchii eating bastard with no manners or you could be more like yourself and activate the growth that laid dormant all through season 1 2 and 3. Think about it. This is my message to those who love koreanovelas.

    Btw, Korean movies on the other hand are cool. Sex is Zero: One movie that made me cry. ;-)

    Bring out your individuality...

  8. Grace, If i could force you , I would. But i will just tell you. Look for a DVD of a movie entitled, "The Secret". I PROMISE you it is worth it.

  9. to cuttlefish...u said u live up in did it help u?and did it help our country?ang bansang korea south ay galing sa kahirapan,mas mahirap pa sa pilipinas noonas in bagsak tlga sila...mataas pa nga ang value ng pera natin hanggang tell me if ur theory is best than what they do how come philippines is so corrupt right now and bagsak ang industry ng pelikulang pilipino kumpara sa ganitong klaseng koreanovela observe the differences...ako nga sa effects plang malayong malayo ang ffects na nagagawa ng kung tutuusin ay mas angat dapat sa koreans...dito nga sila nag aaral ng english ngaun di ba?how come i cant see theory as an answer for this?

  10. Forgive me for not reading the comments properly. No harmful implications tantrum.

    Let me reinforce my statement. I grew up in theory and I believe I spent too much time there. I have come to learn the need for application.

    Also, I am not attacking or countrymen based on their lifestyle. I am proud of the Filipinos but not very happy with Koreans. Long story.

    Now going to politics...

    I've never taken sides in politics. I don't believe I am qualified to even comment on politicians. I accept that I do not know what goes on behind the media(Who are not helping this country as much as they think they are) and so I don't believe I have to expertise or background to talk about the condition of politics in the Philippines. Ask me again when for some reason I get a masters degree in law. Which isn't going to happen in this life.

    But if I had to give an opinion why the country is in so much turmoil, I'd have to say that corruption isn't played with properly. You cannot eliminate corruption but you can make use of it somehow.

    Just to be clear my goal in my previous comment, Koreanovelas suck people into wanting to be another race. If only people knew and believed in the brilliance of Filipinos, Koreans would be watching our telenovelas. Instead of us buying their DVD's and practicing their ballet.

    Like I said, living in theory was a mistake of mine... That's the key statement in that paragraph. Maybe I didn't project it very well or the other side of the fence. Chill...

  11. The circumstances were just not right for the country. But I see a brighter future coming. The one good thing the media has done is inform the youth about the dirtiness of politics. The youth are more aware now.

    I am confident in the country.

    The Koreans probably developed alot faster than us because of the pressures mounted by their communist counterpart. They might have been motivated greatly to build an economy ASAP for the sake of their own survival so it might have released more productivity in the people resulting in what we know as South Korea today. Us pinoy's got not too much of a threat as SK making us 2 relaxed and individualistic.

    Just another idea.

  12. No argumentum ad populum in my intentions. I assure you.

  13. no harm done cuttlefish...just wanna say that for me this kind of koreanovela is a masterpiece...and like grace said i hope too that pinoys would come up with our own history movie like this with high quality effects...i think it was my mistake about ur comment...peace out!

  14. No harm taken, no hostility.

  15. goodness, nawala lang ako sandali marami na pala nangyari sa comment page ko. hehehe, salamat sa inyo ha for interacting here.

    a piece of my mind: i hate the feeling of admiring another race while not feeling good about my own sometimes. kinda makes me feel guilty. i want to love my own so badly and i would exchange punches with anyone who thinks i'm not a proper filipino. it just really pains me though that we are in a bad state these days. the worst part is our lack of identity. who are we? who were we before the spaniards came? i think it is the sense of identity and history that i appreciate so much in foreign entertainment (korean historical dramas, japanese historical anime, american movies etc.). although sometimes countries tend to twist facts pero at least they have a sense of where they came from. SOME of our filipino dramas only seem to ape foreign sensibilities. watching them only makes me feel like i lost something precious-- my sense of being a filipino. when will we have something that is truly our own, one that will refelct who we are? who are we?

    i believe in individuality but i also believe we cannot escape our race of origin. i want to discover that i share a great past with the rest of the filipino people.

  16. That's so true Ma'am. Philippine Postcolonial literature is always somehow about how the country is in a state of identity crisis. What you say is true. We're so influenced by those other countries that are well developed, we're burying our own culture instead of propagating it. I love being a filipino and though I know I don't have much credibility in being a true and loyal one, I'm proud of my race. But I believe no matter how much we try to be something else, somehow our filipino-ness will always manage to come out. Who we are is in our blood, it is inherent. So I guess that gives me hope. I don't think we can keep up this denial of our identities. I do hope someday, we'll wake up and start learning the truth of what makes us real filipinos.

  17. sigh mary. it's just so so sad. :(

  18. Be proud of the Filipino martial arts for example.

    A majority of US armed forces incorporate Filipino Stick fighting (Arnis) into their martial art programs.

    US Navy Seals Martial arts:
    Hand to Hand: RAT System - Filipino-Chinese-American Hybrid art.
    Knife Fighting: Filipino Knife Fighting (Different forms of Kali)

    Bruce Lee's best student:
    Dan Inosanto - Popularized the Filipino martial arts (He's a full blodded pinoy)

    Fight Choreographer for the movie "300" came from the Inosanto academy.

    These people pick what works. Nobody has ever attacked the name of the Filipino. Why? You wanna get torn to shreds?

    Brandon Vera - Badass UFC fighter. Half-pinoy. Native tongue: Tagalog

    You put these guys up against taekwondo. Let's see who shit's their pants first.

    Go Pinoy!

  19. of course. there's no argument about filipino martial arts and other forms of filipino achievment. if i were to choose a martial art to practice it would definitely be arnis and no other.

    in my case, it's really just me wanting to find a rich link with the filipino past. i've always been a history buff. i wish i could know as much about filipino pre-colonial times as i do about english history. there's just a big wide gap here. i want to come into contact with the richness of our past culture. there isn't much taught about it in school and there definitely is almost nothing about it in media and entertainment.

    the last time i saw something related to our pre-colonial history was when a local channel showed a documentary about ancient mummification practices. before that there was the manobo wedding of senetor zubiri. can't we make an accurate film or semi-historical series of our own?

  20. I'd like to say that I really like watching Koreanovelas. Seriously. The thing is, I don't try to analyze them while watching them because 90% of the time I turn to them to relax after Math exams. And really, I don't know a lot of people who enjoy pondering 'propaganda or whatnot' after a bout of anti-differentiation.

    I know it's wrong not to reflect on what I'm watching because that makes me more susceptible to possible brainwashing. For the record, however, I've never dreamed of being Korean because I'm perfectly happy being Filipino, thank you very much. I'm proud of our culture, I'm proud of our people, and although I'm not pleased with the fiasco that's going on in MalaKay, I believe in the Philippines. There's hope for us.

    And our generation will change the nation! Wahahahahahahahahaha!


  21. hahaha. good luck to us (as if i belong to your generation)hehe. but yeah, things can still change

  22. about our filipino martial arts...i practice that too arnis...and been through competitions at sa sobrang admire ko sa sports na to inalam ko ang history nito...and sad to say this is not actually founded o gawa ng filipino...kc wala pang arnis sa pilipinas nung panahon nila lapu lapu wala silang tawag sa way ng paghawak nila ng nagsimula lang ang arnis mula din nung dumating ung mga kastila na nagpakilala ng eskrima o kung susuriin mong maigi ung salitang ar-ni-s di yn salitang tagalog...salitang kastila din yn...ung time n yun mga kastila lng at mga pilipinong mayaman ang nkakapagaral ng fencing gaya nila walang katawagan ang paghawak ng itak nila bonifacio at ang way ng pag hataw nila nito sa totoo lng kulang pa ung research ko tungkol sa arnis...pero sa mga makabayan gaya nila rizal at nila bonifacio di man lang nabanggit na nag aral sila ng arnis nung time na un except for fencing na pinag aralan ni rizal...

  23. wow. ganon ba yun bro. ngayon ko lang nalaman yan about sa arnis a. :(

    marunong ka pala mag arnis? galing! all my life gusto ko matuto mag arnis.

  24. i hate koreanovelas. i hated my sassy girl. they make me puke but then again i do that when faced with anything remotely mushy...

  25. if you wanna watch a really clever romantic movie Grace. watch "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" or Amelie instead.

  26. hahaha. i thought i was gonna get a scorching hate letter but then i saw ur name and relaxed. this is probably one of my most hotly disputed posts ever.

    thanks for dropping by rocky :)

  27. actually, i'm not really looking for romance. sometimes i have no choice in what i watch at home cause you know na, i don't own the idiot box. hehe

    i just kinda appreciate the fact that koreans seems to take some time developing character motivations and personalities. but i must say, many of their pure dramas are also kinda thin. i hope to never have to watch those

  28. During the time of lapu lapu, the warriors practiced a form of Kali. There are a number of forms of Kali existing in southeast asia.

    Kali is known to emphasize bladed weapons more.

    Arnis is a derivative of Kali.

    That's what I can remember. As for the hand to hand side, Filipino arts are more into trapping over punching and kicking. As for wrestling, we have dumog.

  29. thanks for the insight kubotan. now i just have to wait for tantrum to get back. i thought all along that you were someone else but reading the way you write martial arts kinda makes me think you're really who i think you are. so who do i think you are? sheesh :)

    hey this is a great discussion. maybe the stuff i've been looking for about pre colonial times can be unravelled more here

  30. I have two side in this forum my dearest Grace. Doesn't take too much logic to answer who I am. Just a little lingual skills. ;-)

  31. A little bit of lingual skills. Sorry..;-)

  32. actually the word kali was formed coz they are not allowed to practice fencing or any sort of weaponry so they hide theyre practice thru wooden sticks called yantok,kamagong or kali...and thats true kabuotan but during that days even the word kali doesnt come up from the mouth of the warriors or the datus.and if u have observed the spaniards first land on mactan cebu if im not mistaken,on were the said arnis was first born,practice by the famous dose pares...u can see the ressemblance of arnis and fencing thru there stances in fighting...but most lakan can hide there art thru different stances like what they always do back then...its like dancing with a stick...the lakans are equal to masters in different martial arts...its lots of fun learning this art para sakin ito ang pinakamautak na art sa lahat ng martial art sa mundo...

  33. I guess I have to stack up on Filipino arts. As for now, I have a huge respect for arnis though I don't practice it or any melee weapon art.

    As for now I'll be sticking non-traditional empty hand arts.


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