21 years after “Pangako Sa’Yo,” OPM remains teleseryes’ secret sauce
On November 13, 2000, the original “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” teleserye starring Jericho Rosales and Kirstine Hermosa premiered on ABS-CBN, becoming one of the most iconic Pinoy dramas to date. But before it was the title to a hit series, “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” was the first line of the chorus to Rey Valera’s 1982 song, “Pangako.”
The success of Filipino dramas is intertwined with OPM—and those calling the shots at TV networks go as far as to say that TV success is impossible without music.
A winning formula
“Lahat na yata ng mga classic [OPM] songs, nagkaroon na rin ng mga kaniya-kaniyang teleserye at ang common sa kanila, lahat sila laging patok,” says creative director of ABS-CBN Music, Jonathan Manalo on the Musikalikot: Extended Play podcast.
In the Spotify exclusive episode “Bakit lyrics ng kanta ang title ng mga drama natin?” powered by PLDT Home, Manalo and host Maisie Joven dive deep into what it takes for a song to be a show’s title and theme song.
The practice of naming dramas after songs started in the 1970s. “Gulong ng Palad” was first aired in 1977 on RPN-9. The plot followed a theme still popular today, about a pair of lovers from different social classes separated by their families. The trend (of songs as titles and lovers being separated by circumstance plots) would continue into the 80s and beyond.
“Siyempre, formula sila eh. And yung formula na iyon na nag-aappeal sa masang Pilipino, inadapt sa mga teleserye and yung mga TV drama series,” explains Manalo, who grew up in the 80s exposed to the hits of the time such as “Bituing Walang Ningning,” “Kahit Konting Pagtingin,” and more.
In the year 2000, families flocked to their TVs as soon as the first few bars of “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” played. It remains to be one of the most influential dramas of the Philippines, garnering international recognition. In 2015, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla starred in its remake, still using the same theme song written by Rey Valera.
“Ang purpose kasi ng pagkuha ng sikat na kanta na alam na ng audience (ay) meron ka na kagad na nakukuhang affinity sa audience...Kung baga may kasama na yang nostalgia,...(at) emotional connection ng mga tao,” says Manalo.
Filipinos are known to be sentimental and emotive. When they see that the title of a song is the title of a drama, they remember their emotional attachment to the songs, and it’s a good way to promote the show.
The nostalgia factor
Manalo shares that at ABS-CBN, in brainstorming for a show, there’s usually already a plot, but no title. In discussing the story, they look for a song that matches its flow and that’s where the theme song and title come from. Aside from the nostalgia factor, universality also plays a big part in a song’s selection.
He says that when a song’s lyrics are very specific, as with a song like “Isang Linggong Pag-Ibig,” for example, it’s difficult to align with the show. They prefer love songs whose lyrics sound like they can be sung to family, to a partner—or even to God.
Although matching a drama title to a theme song title is a winning combination, such a trend is subject to the times as well. These days, more titles are getting straight to the point. But Manalo says that this is all part of a cycle—it will always come back to the formula.
Music stays with us in every aspect of our life. Whether you’re an OPM lover or a teleserye viewer, the combination has made a lasting impact on Pinoy pop culture.