Ateneo introduces Philippine teleserye elective

December 22, 2014

Louie Jon A. Sanchez brings the teleserye studies to the Ateneo through the elective "Literature Literature and Ideas III: The Philippine Teleserye"

Who can ever forget iconic teleseryes like Marimar, Mara Clara or Dyesebel?
These much-loved Philippine teleseryes are making a comeback this semester at the Ateneo de Manila University in the elective course “Literature Literature and Ideas III: The Philippine Teleserye” taught by Louie Jon Sanchez of the English Department, which offers an in-depth analysis and appreciation of these much loved programs.
A keen observer of teleseryes, Sanchez says that it was his love for Korean soap operas in the Philippines which led him to study teleseryes. “The teleserye course is my logical direction. I’ve been studying and observing soap operas, particularly Korean soap operas in the Philippines. I’m basically a hallyu fan,” Sanchez explains. This cultural studies elective pays homage to the works of Professor Emeritus Dr. Soledad Reyes, who pioneered the study of romance novels and popular culture in the Philippines.

The elective course “Literature and Ideas III: The Philippine Teleserye” explores the contemporary Philippine soap opera using the cultural studies and media studies framework. The exploration also traces the development of the genre aspect of the teleserye.Its focus is on the last 30 years, beginning with the return of democratized television in 1986.
“We’re looking it as a literary text. Since it is seen as a literary text, there is an aesthetic, which means that it is also considered as a legitimate form of artistic expression which is shaped by commercial agenda,” Sanchez says.
Being offered for the first time this semester, the elective welcomed 35 students. Since it is an open elective, its enrollees come from different disciplines. Many of them are self-confessed teleserye viewers. 


“Being here close to five years, I have learned that we really have to talk to the students. We have to make the lessons relevant. That’s what I do as a teacher. I do not only reinvent or help them rethink their ideas of a teleserye, I also try to explore with them other ways of making sense of the teleserye,” Sanchez says. 
The course has gained recognition not only in campus, but also from people in the teleserye industry. “People from the industry tell me that they feel thankful that their work in the teleserye is being valued,” he says, adding that there will be a part in the course where he will invite some friends who are involved with teleseryes.

The history of teleseryes

Tracing the development of the teleserye in the last 30 years, Sanchez identifies various high points starting with the return of democratized television in 1986. Shows during this period had political undertones. During this period, there was a strong movement for the localization in local television as well. As a result, there was a shift away from English newscasts and American programming.

Another high point was the arrival of Latin American soap operas. “Latin American teleseryes were negotiated by way of Tagalog and dubbing,” Sanchez says. He cited Marimar, Rosalinda, and others, as examples of these.
This was followed by another resurgence in 2000 when Asianovelas such as the Taiwanese hit Meteor Garden rose to fame. Eventually, we started to transfer from Taiwan to China then the Koreans.  “We seem to be reclaiming our Asianness,” he says.
Today, Sanchez says that we are still in the golden age of teleseryes. He observes that the recent success of teleseryes like ABS-CBN’s “Be Careful with my Heart” signals the return of the old mode of long teleseryes.

A cultural signifier
More than a form of entertainment, teleseryes are a cultural signifier relevant to society.

“We have to remember that the teleserye is a relevant text of our lives. It is a new literature that dramatizes contemporary life and implies certain truths about society and culture,” Sanchez says.
That the teleserye also runs parallel to our country’s history adds to its cultural significance. “It has developed primarily as a genre along with historical changes and events that are obvious in the historical foregrounding of the study. It may also be said that the teleserye is our history’s parallel world,” Sanchez says.
 He adds, “It appeals to many because it embodies the way we look at ourselves and the world.”


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