By Teresa Naval
Filipino television has a history of adaptation and remaking. Look at the countless Spanish-language telenovelas we’ve localized, or the long list of past shows we’ve brought back to life (hi, Encantadia). Aside from the usual Precious Hearts Romance adaptation or Wattpad derivative, though, Philippine literature isn’t typically seen as a basis for the next hit show. There are so many fantastic books from the Filipiniana section that hold visual appeal—such as the property that’s going to be adapted into a movie soon, Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan—and here are four books we think would work as TV series.
Seroks, David Hontiveros
What is it? A short story collection that expands the world Hontiveros first introduced in the Palanca award-winning short story Kaming Mga Seroks. Imagine a country run by the Maharlika Company, where everything is commodified and even people can be pirated.
Why would it work? The short story format helps keep things episodic, and Hontiveros’ world is rich and fun to explore. Philippine television hasn’t quite delved into hard sci fi yet, and Seroks—with its familiar themes (piracy, aging actors)—could be a good first step.
Banana Heart Summer, Merlinda Bobis
What is it? A coming-of-age novel told through food. Nenita is twelve years old and wants nothing but to never feel hungry again. She lives on Remedios Street, and her neighbors, with whom she cooks and eats with, are a colorful group of people. It’s a tale driven by hunger—for love, a better life, a stronger community.
Why would it work? The language Bobis uses is extremely visual, and it would be interesting to eat and play with Nenita and the rest of her friends on Remedios Street. The show would be worth watching for the food alone.
Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog/Eight Muses of the Fall, Edgar Calabia Samar
What is it? A young man’s journey to recreate his past (and maybe write a novel). There are demons, and forests, and things that lead people astray. It’s also about friendship, and love, and a town that may or may not really exist.
Why would it work? The show would start at the middle of the narrative, and we, like the protagonist Daniel, would piece together the story. There’s a touch of the supernatural that helps balance the existential angst. It’s an odd book, for sure, but it could definitely be a show that’s weird in the best of ways.
Alternative Alamat, edited by Paolo Chikiamco
What is it? Short stories that reinterpret Philippine mythology, written by contemporary Filipino authors for a contemporary Filipino audience. There is a Skyworld with seven levels, a giant crab, thousands of gods.
Why would it work? Fantasy is no stranger to primetime television, but fantasy sometimes tends to overstay its welcome with worn-out tropes. Alternative Alamat tells old (and often forgotten) stories in new ways—ways that would fit well on the small screen.