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Filipino seryes a hit in Cambodia

When the clock hits 12 noon, not a few residents in Phnom Penh, especially the housewives and sellers, rush to turn on the television and tune into MyTV, a local channel in Cambodia.

It's as if something important were about to be broadcast. But it's not breaking news or anything about the economy or politics.

It's not about K-pop either. The viewers look forward to seeing the next episode of a Filipino TV series.

'Fabulous' shows

Chinese and Korean pop culture have a strong following in Cambodia, and they dominate the entertainment programs.

But Filipino TV dramas have also captured the hearts of Cambodian audiences.

CTN-MyTV, a division of CTN, is the only channel airing Filipino dramas. Leang Kimsreng, deputy general manager of the network, says they find the production and storylines of these shows "fabulous."

“The actors and actresses are also very beautiful, and this can attract audiences,” he said.

Kimsreng likens the actors to the Cambodian people, and the stories to the Cambodian milieu as well.

These facets make the dramas click among TV audiences. Plus, the older ones, in particular, are not too keen on American or western entertainment - being a different world from the environment that the audiences have become accustomed to.

The serye currently being shown on CTN-My TV is “Amaya,” which airs noontime during weekdays.

As I understand this program, “Amaya” is a mix of fantasy and history about a tribal princess, the titular character, who seeks to change her male-dominated society.

"Amaya" was conceptualized by Suzette Doctolero, a screenwriter for the Philippines' GMA-7 network whose credits include, notably, "My Husband's Lover."

Lout Chantan, a seller at Takeo province, says she likes watching “Amaya” because it is a fantasy serye, her favorite genre.

She said she learns a lot from the show and from the main protagonist, portrayed by Spanish-Filipino actress Marian Rivera.

“I know Filipino culture and tradition more," Chantan said with confidence. "In addition, the movie depicts the bravery of women, and leadership in society."

Filipino dramas are "very famous here," she continued. "They can compete with Korean dramas."

Chantan is also proud to note the popularity of "Amaya" in her neighborhood. Everyone watches and talks about it, she said.

Popular rerun

Another Filipino drama that had found new life in Cambodia, enjoying a popular rerun, is "The Promise," or "Pangako sa 'Yo," starring Filipino stars Jericho Rosales and Kristine Hermosa. It was a big noontime hit throughout its run.

CTN-MyTV has already shown more than 10 Filipino TV dramas.

The popularity and demand for this entertainment has inspired the network, in turn, to produce its own drama series, adapted from the Filipino dramas.

CTN-My TV's partner in this endeavor is Khmer Mekong Films (KMF), a Cambodian production company.

According to Matthew Robinson, KMF executive producer, KMF has so far produced two TV dramas adapted from the Filipino seryes.

The first, “Impostors,” was shown early in 2013. This drama was adapted from the GMA serye, “Impostora” (starring Filipino stars Iza Calzado and Sunshine Dizon), which was a big hit last year among Cambodian viewers.

The second show is entitled, “Sonn-ya Snea,” adapted from “Pangako sa ’Yo.” It is currently showing on CTN.

Recovering industry

Robinson is a British producer, director, and writer who had a long stint with the BBC, before he moved to Cambodia in the early 2000s to become something of a pioneer in the country's recovering broadcast industry.

In a way, the prevailing interest in these dramas, which Robinson shares, affirms their value to any given community - in this case, the milieu of Southeast Asia - apart from the prestige normally attributed to art films and sophisticated Hollywood productions.

“We have plans to make more TV series," Robinson said, "and also to adapt [more] Filipino shows with the cooperation of the TV [networks]."

Kimsreng confirmed this direction, adding that he will also continue to work closely with the big TV stations in the Philippines such as ABS-CBN, GMA, and TV5.

“Even though we have not conducted any survey to find out the popularity of these Filipino TV [dramas] in Cambodia, we definitely believe they have a lot of fans here,” he said. - Rappler.com