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After ‘lakorn,’ here comes Turkish drama

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Mention Turkey and most Filipinos may likely think of Ruffa Gutierrez’s estranged husband Yilmaz Bektas, or if they are hungry, that delectable shawarma wrap of pita bread enveloping juicy slices of pit-roasted beef, cucumber and drizzled with yoghurt and tahini.

Yesterday morning, however, regular drama viewers were treated to a different face of Turkey – one that could change the perception of the transcontinental Eurasian country also known for its exotic locations, quality football and basketball teams, and gorgeous people regularly gracing their primetime TV.

The premiere of Wings of Love yesterday morning on GMA Network was a treat to a cult Filipino following of the Turkish serial. This one might not have been their top pick for a Turkish drama, but the very thought of seeing one, even dubbed, is already a good sign for most.

Every other drama junkie online knows that foreign dramas are interesting enough, but the problem of decent subtitles is always a roadblock. This was the case among Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese dramas until there came a wave or demand for understandable subs for these titles.

These days, it is easy to come across subtitled Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese titles in any video-streaming platforms.

Ditto for Thai lakorn (“television play”), which is slowly inching its way to the top of the tier.

But Turkish dramas with decent subtitles are hard to come by even in YouTube. There are just clips of a particular drama, as well as fan-made music videos accompanied with unsatisfactory substitles.

What is it with Turkish dramas that appeal to a growing number of Filipino viewers based in the Philippines? Filipinos abroad, especially in the Middle East and Balkan countries, are familiar with these Turkish dramas as these are reportedly quite popular in these regions.

For most, it would be the gorgeous actors and actresses that lead a series. Turkish actors look like they just came out of the photo shoot of a summer campaign of a popular fashion brand. They’re often tall, lean and muscular, and blessed with chiseled good looks and fascinating, deep-set eyes the color of topaz, sky blue or sea green. Their women are equally gorgeous — they’re statuesque, voluptuous, blessed with naturally wavy tresses and faces that both seduce and feign innocence. They can either be shoo-in candidates for Miss Turkey or grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Yet more than the good looks, Turkish dramas are lavish. Their serials can be as soap operatic as ours, with all its twists and turns, mostly rooting out of familial conflict affecting the lovebirds’ predestined romance.

Just like Wings of Love where our heroine is a single mother who runs away from marriage to a “respectable” businessman and meets his friend and they fall in love. The problem is, the man she ditched is a drug dealer. From here, everyone can already guess where this drama is going.

This familiarity is forgiven for the lavishness and indulgence most Turkish dramas offer. Their settings are often astounding, capturing Turkey’s unique geographical position straddling Europe and Asia. So, expect lush greens amid a seemingly arid location.

Istanbul, the capital and location of most of the dramas, is as old as Constantinople and the Ottoman empire ─ the buildings and structures are historical marvels.

The introduction of a Turkish drama just a month after the debut of a Thai lakorn has made drama junkies rejoice. What about Filipino dramas? Competition is already stiff, and here come the new players. It only means they ought to do better than they’ve ever done before.

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