‘Found in translation’ trend on local screens | Inquirer Entertainment

‘Found in translation’ trend on local screens

/ 12:42 AM May 29, 2015

KOREAN telenovelas like “Empress Ki” are very popular and profitable these days.

KOREAN telenovelas like “Empress Ki” are very popular and profitable these days.

It’s instructive to note that many more “imported” TV-film productions are being translated into Filipino for viewers these days. Time was when the cost of translation wasn’t mitigated and paid for by the benefits derived.

However, now that the country’s population has mushroomed to 100 million, many more people are viewing shows and films, so the “cost per thousand” ratio has been drastically brought down.


Topping the foreign productions that are now “found in translation” on local TV screens are the Korean telenovelas now very popularly and profitably being shown on our major TV networks.


With the popularity of “K-Pop” at an all-time high, their viewing prospects are immense, hence our channels’ decision to go in for them in a big way.

To be sure, some observers are worried that this is nothing more than “colonial mentality” given a new, regional twist.

The new colonizers aren’t Americans or Europeans and look decidedly Asian, but the trend still favors “imported” over “local,” so it adds to the age-old problem.

But, the trend won’t go away anytime soon, so we have to ponder its “least harmful” repercussions: Is it “better” if the neo-colonizer wears an Asian face, or are we just talking about the same, old antinationalist problem, seen in a “diminished” or “adjusted” context?

Aside from Asian drama series in Filipino translation, we’re getting to watch more Asian films in some cineplexes. One of these new viewing modules is the one that Viva has established in some SM cinemas, which have been “experimentally” given over to the screening of translated Asian movies. If this move turns out to be successful, it’ll open (some) local screens to films that aren’t American or European—a win-win situation all around.

Other considerations: Time was when translations were scorned by purists, simply because they were so poorly made. We still recall laughing out loud in a cinema when we watched a Korean film in which the female protagonist broke into tears and wailed: “I have just become a window!”


But, those shoddy and unintentionally funny days are long gone, and today’s translated productions are worked on by talents who know the local idiom well, hence the greater acceptability of their translated products. Given this greater popularity and acceptability, the “found in translation” trend can be expected to increase and improve in seasons to come.

What about the other way around? ABS-CBN and GMA 7 lead in the sale of Filipino drama series to be shown in translation in TV markets overseas. But, that trend is still taking baby steps, so more decisive marketing and promotional moves need to be made.

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Finally, many indie movies are now shown in generally English translation in film festivals, rather than for the general viewing public. So, much more work also needs to be done in that regard.

TAGS: ABS-CBN, Entertainment, GMA-7, Korean Drama, Television

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