Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This could not have been truer when it comes to the silver and small screen. As for Philippine cinema and television, it may be attributed to our colonial mentality. This is especially evident to us OFWs since we are exposed on various cultures and it is easy for us to see what they are doing better than us Filipinos.
We have collated a list of movies and TV series which are uncannily similar to a Hollywood release. I am not saying they are intentionally copied; this is just my observation and lament as a viewer. And in any case, the peril of recurring themes and generic plots affects film industries worldwide. This post is in no means to lambaste the already struggling Filipino cinema, as a matter of fact, as OFWs, we miss watching Tagalog films in movie houses since not all Tagalog films get international screening. Only those that are sure to be money makers. What a sad notion.
1. Wanted: Perfect Father – 1994 (Mrs. Doubtfire – 1993)
Both films star comedians who cross dresses so he could apply as a nanny. The difference though is Daniel Hillard or Mrs. Doubtfire (Robin Williams) is applying to be a nanny to his children, while Roy (Dolphy), to his neighbor’s sick kid. Fortunately, he made the kid beneficiary for his insurance before being involved in an accident. Seeing Roy is supposed to be dead, he managed to still be involved by being their beloved Mommy Rose.
Another alteration is Daniel’s dejected love life as his ex-wife found a new love in Pierce Brosnan. Roy managed to win over Edu Manzano for the love of Ms. Dawn Zulueta.
2. Gagamboy – 2004 (Spiderman – 2002)
Gagamba means spider hence Gagamboy is Spider Boy. In a weak attempt to stray from the original, Gagamboy was not bitten by a radioactive spider. Instead, he SWALLOWED one. His villain, Ipisman (Cockroach Man) also swallowed a cock roach. We would have to say it is a superb origin story of their super hero abilities. Though, we do not know which one we prefer swallowing.
True to Spiderman and Harry Osborn fashion, they vied for the affection of the same woman whose purpose in life is to be bait. Naturally, the hero gets the girl in the end by the help of his orange goo. He used flubber which he could manipulate at will.
3. Okay Ka Fairy Ko – 1987 (Bewitched – 1964)
We grew up to Okay Ka Fairy Ko and we remember being bewitched by it. The concept of a witch (or in the Tagalog version, diwata or fairy) falling in love with a mortal and the mishaps of her trying to hide her magic from humans is we thought at first an original concept.
Perhaps one of the likenesses that endeared both shows to the audience is the dynamic relationship between Enteng and Faye / Darrin and Samantha and the interference of the mother-in-law Ina Magenta / Endora. Recasting for the main character is another similarity. Faye was played by several actresses, Alice Dixson, Tweety De Leon, and Kristine Hermosa, who was later recast again because she became the wife of Enteng’s son in real life that plays his son in the franchise. (Nepotism at its finest.) In the Hollywood counterpart, it was the role of Darrin Stephens that underwent recasting. Dick York was replaced by another Dick, Dick Sargent.
4. Baby Love – 1995 (My Girl – 1991)
Baby Love and My Girl are coming of age films and Baby Love came out the time we are transitioning from a human child to a rebellious monster. So we could relate. Honestly, we only realized similarities in the films when we stumble upon a post about our child stars and “where are they now”.
Watching a couple of pre-teens in love and ready to defy odds during your adolescence, you could not help but wish for your prince to appear. Especially when you’re motherless, father is uninvolved and you’re opposed to his remarrying. But, if you are watching it when you’re an adult, you’d find yourself agreeing to their parents more.
5. All You Need Is Pag-Ibig – 2015 (Valentine’s Day – 2010)
Both films boast of ensemble casts with interconnected stories and related characters. The parallels in castings are also glaringly obvious. We have the love team (Taylor Lautner and Taylor Swift / Kim Chiu and Xian Lim), the eye candies (Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, Derek Ramsey, Ian Veneracion) and the veteran thespians to make the movie appear commendable (Hector Elizondo & Shirley MacLaine / Ronaldo Valdez & Nova Villa) (LINK 7).
And since both films talks about love, the end is happy. Not in the traditional sense, but all characters are seen to have resolved their woes before the credits roll.
6. Desperadas – 2007 (Desperate Housewives – 2004)
The titles are giveaways. But, instead of four women living as neighbors, we have four women living as neighbors who are also sisters. This is the idea of the writers to stray far from the inspiration.
Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross) seems to have all things figured out same with the eldest sister; Stephanie (Iza Calzado) and is likely to have the “happy” life. Then we have Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria) and Isabella (Ruffa Gutierrez) the materialistic, but experienced financial difficulties. Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman) and Patricia (Ruffa Mae Quinto) are career oriented and driven while Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher) who is a romantic is a tad mellow compared to Courtney (Marian Rivera) who is often shown crying to her dog about her lackluster love life.
Thankfully, the Filipino version is a movie and not a series which could spin seasons. It just spawned a sequel, aptly titled Desperadas 2.
7. Tabing Ilog – 1999 (Dawson’s Creek – 1998)
Dawson’s Creek started airing in January 1998, Tabing Ilog soon follow in March 1999. Both series followed the lives of a group of friends and their too embellished to have happened in real life dramatic existences. But hey, that’s what makes a good TV show.
Similarly, both shows broadcasted during an era of teen dramas. Dawson’s Creek paved the way for One Tree Hill and The OC while Tabing Ilog is the descendant of Gimik (modeled after Beverly Hills 90210). We purposely avoided listing the resemblances from the shows’ plots such as love triangles, a main character dying, on again off again relationships, mental breakdowns, death of a sibling, etc. because we are familiar with that, anything that will make us throw our TV sets across the living room and chew our nails in anticipation of the next episode.
8. Won’t Last A Day Without You – 2011 (The Accidental Husband – 2008)
Won’t Last A Day Without You is the second film of Sarah Geronimo and Gerald Anderson before the demise of their love team. We are fans of Sarah’s films. Suffice to say we watched this and were momentarily blinded by the recycled plot.
Sarah (DJ Heidee) is a love expert and radio host who gave advices to her listeners. One of these listeners happens to be Anderson’s (Andrew Escalona) girlfriend, pre Miss World 2013 Megan Young (Melissa). She followed Sarah’s advice, broke up with boyfriend, boyfriend got mad, stormed the station, confronted the host and the rest is history, Melissa and Andrew’s relationship that is because boyfriend fell for the love expert. Surprise, surprise.
9. Forever and A Day – 2011 (A Walk to Remember – 2002)
Forever and A Day stars Sam Milby and KC Concepcion. This movie is made on a pursuit to find KC a bankable love team. Her people thought a tear jerking movie will make an actress out of her. Consequently, they made her star in a movie about a heroine who met someone and whom she warned not to fall in love with her. They embarked on a journey to live her life and fell in love before the big reveal.
We are aghast since we have not perceived the alikeness early on. Sam Milby’s biceps are worthy distraction.
10. S.P. – 2008 (Ghost Whisperer – 2005)
Of all the items in this list, the people behind E.S.P. are the most candid. They admitted the show is inspired by other shows. Maybe they hoped the TV gods will bless and let the show last five seasons, similar to its forerunner.
Sadly, the similarities of both shows ended in having a gorgeous female lead that could see the souls of the departed. E.S.P. lasted only for 13 episodes whilst Ghost Whisperer though aired 107 episodes, got axed because of a decline in viewership.
Not to be accused of being hypocrites or before being massacred by patriots, know we watch (in cinemas when we are in the Philippines during our annual vacation, as another way for us OFWs to contribute to our economy) and are proud of some Filipino movies i.e. Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, On The Job, Zombadings, Heneral Luna and Goyo, That Thing Called Tadhana, Starting Over Again, A Very Special Love, etc. Let us all do our part to support these quality films which are often not mainstream and are receiving little recognition.