Chris Evans may be Captain America, but did you know that he can speak in Filipino? Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, too. Ditto Leonardo DiCaprio of Don't Look Up recent fame.
Streaming giant Netflix has thousands of movies and series that are available in at least 50 languages, including Filipino.
While most Pinoy couch potatoes would be content with the typical English, Korean because of the Hallyu fever, or perhaps Japanese because of the anime vibes, they ought to watch content in the national language because... bakit hindi?
After all, Filipino has been dubbed as the "sexiest accent" in Asia and 21st in the world in a 2019 study (albeit informal). About 40% of Pinoys also have a Netflix subscription, according to a global online survey from Finder in 2021, only reinforcing the notion of loving one's own.
Most importantly, watching shows in Filipino translates to appreciation and support of homegrown voice actors, who do actually mean business and are high-caliber talents who deserve worldwide attention.
Housing such talents is the Makati-based Hit Productions, one of Netflix's partner studios in the country. It's not only dubbing shows for the streaming giant but is also writing the very scripts that give the shows a Pinoy touch.
To date, the following shows are available in Filipino thanks to Hit Productions:
- 2022 Netflix releases: A Perfect Pairing, Day Shift, I Came By, Me Time, The Gray Man
- 2021 Netflix releases: Army of the Dead, Army of Thieves
- Blockbusters and critically acclaimed films: Don't Look Up, Enola Holmes, Extraction, Finding 'Ohana, Red Notice
- Animated films: Back to the Outback, Klaus, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, The Sea Beast
There are also other studios with Filipino dubs for other shows, including Persuasion, The Adam Project, Money Heist Korea, and Squid Game.
"We commit to telling the original story, showcasing the rich culture, and keeping the intent of foreign shows in the vernacular," Rudolf Baldonado Jr., Hit Productions head of localization, told PhilSTAR L!fe.
Baldonado Jr. said the major reason why Filipino dubs are essential in a global market, much less the local one, is accessibility.
He noted that a better part of the country, i.e., masa, are voracious consumers of Filipino shows, such as teleseryes. By "localizing" the script—though not via pure Filipino/Tagalog à la Balagasan which runs the risk of sounding unnatural or constrained—more viewers would have a clearer understanding of the show's plot, dialog, and intention.
"Many English shows can only be appreciated by some because of its visual spectacle, but not necessarily its content," he said.
Baldonado Jr. also highlighted that as the national language, Filipino must be exalted by using it across different media.
"Our own language should not be underestimated," he said, adding that "though debatable," foreign shows in Filipino are on a par with those in English in terms of communicating ideas, concepts, and cultures.
"We also need to admit that another sector of the market seemed to have forgotten how to write and speak proper Filipino," he added.
Baldonado Jr. also cited as examples the strength of particular foreign shows (Japanese, Korean, Thai, Spanish) that still "undeniably" have a strong following—and are consumed widely even by Filipinos.
"These shows are available with subtitles," he said, "but reading text while watching video can sometimes take away from the immersive experience of watching your favorite show.
This is why foreign shows starring Korean soap stars and Japanese anime characters who "speak" in Filipino tend to resonate with more people, Baldonado Jr. noted.
TV5 and GMA are known for airing foreign shows with Filipino dub, though the networks have had their fair share of critics throughout time for the supposed lack in quality.
There are even users who create fanmade dubs, but are intentionally burlesque for humorous effect, inasmuch as they seemingly poke fun at the Filipino dubs on free television.
In any case, Baldonado Jr. believes that what really matters is the intention of bringing the foreign shows closer to more Filipino viewers.
"People who poke fun at localized shows and deem them 'inferior' are obviously not the target market," he said. "I personally feel that this is a simple matter of preference... We can't force anyone to like anything, in the same way that those people cannot force anyone to hate anything."
Though acknowledging that there may be low quality dubs around, Baldonado Jr. emphasized that there are likewise high quality ones in the market.
"We will do our best, as we've always had, to create that illusion of foreigners speaking Filipino to complete the audiences' immersive experience as they watch their favorite shows," Baldonado Jr. said.
"As for the rest of the industry, we encourage them to do the same."