It's a comfort to know that someone is taking Pinoy neologisms seriously - but not in an unreadably academic way. Ladies and gentlemen, I'd subscribe to Yes! magazine if only to read Pete Lacaba's precious little essays on the Filipino neologism du jour. It's a great little joy of discovery. Lacaba moderates the Plaridel Papers yahoogroup, a pretty formidable egroup, I should say. (You post at your own risk, hehe.)
Jose F. Lacaba
YES! Magazine, September 2004
The network wars--specifically the conflict between ABS-CBN and GMA-7--have recently escalated to the point where they're cannonading each other with libel suits and charges of tele-thievery. But there's a side skirmish in the battlefield that has
not made it to the front pages. Let's call it the terminological tug-of-war.
In olden days, when drama basically meant theater, there were only two types of plays to choose from--tragedy and comedy. At least, that's the impression you get from the ancient Greek iyak/tawa masks that symbolize the dramatic arts.
Originally, the difference between the two was simple. If you had a tragic ending for hero and heroine, with Romeo and Juliet dead, you had a tragedy. And if you had a happy ending, with the tamed shrew and the shrew tamer kissing at curtain close, then you had a comedy.
When its Manifest Destiny brought America to these shores, it also bequeathed soap operas (so-called because they were usually sponsored by beauty soaps or detergents) to Philippine radio and television. Soap opera as a term eventually got clipped to soap, but we never got around to calling the local variety sabon or operang sabon. Any radio or television narrative that was not a comedy, we simply referred to as drama, although now we also have a combination form known as dramedy.
The popularity of the Spanish drama series, starting with "Mari Mar," introduced the term telenovela into the local showbiz lexicon. At about the same time, we had our own telesine, or "telefilm," more commonly known as "made-for-TV movie." Someone with a talent for puns then came up with chinovela in the wake of "Meteor Garden" and other serialized dramas from Taiwan.
In the meantime, some local serialized drama started to describe itself as a teleserye. Unfortunately, I can't be as specific as I'd like to be, because pressing deadlines prevent me from doing more exhaustive research on who coined or first used the useful term teleserye.
Now the network wars have increased our vocabulary.
ABS-CBN's mermaid melodrama "Marina" calls itself a fantaserye.
GMA-7's spoof "Marinara" prefers to be known as a kwelanovela.
And now "Mulawin," GMA-7's entry in the fantasy sweepstakes, about a race of half-bird, half-human creatures, describes itself as a telefantasya.
Incidentally, the mulawin is a tree, also known as molave. When I translated excerpts from R. Zulueta da Costa's classic poem "Like the Molave," I used "Tulad ng Mulawin." So the word should really not be confused with lawin, "hawk"--but given the power of television, that's what's going to happen now. The tree will become a bird.
What we'll get here is a telephantasmagoria.