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Refine Your Tagalog Skills with These Filipino TV Shows

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The television was first introduced to the Philippines in 1953, making the country the first in Southeast Asia (and second in Asia) to welcome what would be referred to by many as the “boob tube” or the “goggle box.” It was ABS-CBN, the leading TV network in the country today, that first gave the television to the Filipino people. Since then, watching Filipino TV shows has been one of the country’s most favorite pastimes, with Filipino families spending a huge chunk of their day in front of the small screen. Even with the advent of the internet and online streaming sites, it can’t be denied that television remains the go-to media platform for consuming content for many Filipinos.

Over the years, we’ve read articles and heard news saying that television is an anti-education tool and that it has many negative effects. While there is some truth in that, there may also be a few redeeming factors to television-watching. For language-learners, in particular, perhaps the most important benefit of watching TV is that it improves reading speed and comprehension, simultaneously providing exposure to other cultures.

Watching TV shows that use the language you’re trying to learn won’t automatically make you an expert in that language, but it sure can bring your skills up another level. For one, it gives you the opportunity to listen to unfamiliar words over and over again. The more you hear how words are supposed to be pronounced, the more familiar you become with them and the more your speaking confidence grows.

The good news is that there are a number of different Filipino TV shows that provide you with the opportunities listed above. Let’s take a look at ten of the top Filipino TV programs you can watch to help you refine your Tagalog while also learning about Filipino culture.

Ready? Here’s our Filipino TV shows list for Tagalog learners!

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Table of Contents

  1. Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK)
  2. Maynila
  3. Wansapanataym
  4. Pepito Manaloto
  5. Matanglawin
  6. Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho
  7. Unang Hirit
  8. Umagang Kay Ganda
  9. Bandila
  10. Biyahe ni Drew
  11. How FilipinoPod101 Can Help


1. Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK)

Maalaala Mo Kaya (abbreviated as MMK) is the longest-running drama anthology series in the Philippines, and in the entire world. It first aired in 1991 and centers on real-life stories of common Filipino people. The title translates to “would you remember,” with each episode chronicling the life of letter senders, depicted by some of the best Filipino drama actors and actresses.

It’s most famous line is, of course, “Dear Charo,” by the host Charo Santos-Concio, who is the show’s presenter.

This Filipino TV drama series is presented in Tagalog, and you can expect to hear rare Tagalog words from time to time. Also expect to be moved by the actors’ and actresses’ touching performances. You may have watched tons of drama series all your life, but you can rest assured that nothing comes close to this one.

    → How well you remember things determines how quickly you can learn a new language.


2. Maynila

You’ll greatly appreciate this drama romance anthology if you’re residing in Manila. This TV show, broadcast by GMA Network, was originally hosted by former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza from 1998 to March this year. Today, his daughter takes his place as the program’s host.

What’s great about this Filipino TV show is that it shows the audience a glimpse of the Filipino culture, as the scenes are sometimes shot in famous Filipino heritage spots. The show’s intro, for instance, highlights some famous tourist spots such as the Luneta Park. You’ll also see shots of calesas (horse-drawn calash), a bangka (native watercraft in the Philippines), and jeepneys (the most popular mode of transportation ubiquitous in the streets of Manila).

Most importantly, the series highlights inspiring stories of Pinoys who face the challenges most common to Manileños.

Oh, and here’s the lyrics to the show’s soundtrack:

Mahal kong Maynila
“My dear Manila”

Sayo’y hindi mawawalay
“With you will never part”

Maynila
“Manila”

Pangarap ko’y mabubuhay
“My dream will come alive”

Paglingap na walang kapantay
“Care that is unparalleled”

Sakaling ako’y lumayo
“If ever I go away”

Sayo’y mananabik
“Surely, you I will miss”

Walang iba sa puso ko kung ‘di Maynila
“There is no one else in my heart but Manila”

Maynila, Maynila
“Manila, Manila”


3. Wansapanataym

You’re probably wondering why the title of the show sounds like “once upon a time.” Well, that’s because it’s a Filipinization of that exact phrase.

Launched in 1997, Wansapanataym is actually a Filipino fantasy anthology for kids. Filipino kids couldn’t wait for the weekend and would get especially excited when Saturday came because it was Wansapanataym once again. This was one of those classic Filipino TV shows that stole its audience’s heart.

The series aired from 1997 to 2005. It had a revival in 2010, but once again ended in April 2019. The good news is that old episodes are aired on Yey! Channel and Jeepney TV.

In 1999, a movie adaptation was released. It told the story of an orphan girl named Anna (played by then-child actress Shaina Magdayao). With the help of her guardian angel, she was able to see her father (played by award-winning actor Christopher de Leon), albeit for a short moment.

    Here’s the official trailer to Wansapanataym: The Movie


4. Pepito Manaloto

Pepito Manaloto is your typical rags-to-riches story. The show stars Pepito (played by Michael V., dubbed “The King of Filipino Parody”), a simple, underprivileged man who was lucky enough to win P700 Million in the lottery.

The show was tagged as a reality-sitcom, not because it was an actual reality show, but because it accurately depicted the life of a typical poor Filipino. It’s a big hit here in the Philippines simply because a lot of Filipinos could relate to the struggles of the protagonist, and like him, desire to get out of poverty.

Pepito’s last name is actually a portmanteau of the words Manalo ( “win” ) and Lotto (”lottery”).

The show isn’t filled with only life lessons, but with lessons for those who wish to take their Tagalog-speaking skills up a notch.

    Here’s one of the episodes of the multi-award-winning TV show seven years after its launch in 2010.


5. Matanglawin

Literally “Hawk’s Eye,” Matanglawin is an educational show hosted by Kim Atienza, and it airs weekly as one of the ABS-CBN Filipino TV shows. And in case you’re wondering, Kuya Kim, as he’s fondly known, is the son of Lito Atienza, the former mayor of Manila and former show host of the TV series Maynila.

The show focuses on science-environmental issues, with Kuya Kim exploring the country for fresh insights, new discoveries, and interesting trivia. He encourages his viewers to be just like a hawk when it comes to investigating—Mapanuri, Mapagmatiyag, Mapangahas! (”Inquisitive, Vigilant, Adventurous!”). And yes, whether you want to learn more about science’s latest discoveries or improve your skills in Tagalog grammar and pronunciation, you’ll definitely benefit a lot from watching this multi-award-winning Filipino TV series!

    Since we’re talking about language, here’s an episode of Matanglawin where Kuya Kim gives us
    some trivia about the ancient writing script of the Philippines—the Baybayin.

    Did you know that FilipinoPod101 comes with a free app designed to help you learn Tagalog faster? Check the app here to find out more.


6. Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho

The show’s international title is One at Heart, Jessica Soho, although it literally translates to Your Heartmate, Jessica Soho. Abbreviated and more popularly known as KMSJ, Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho is an award-winning TV news magazine show that was first aired by GMA in 2004.

The show is hosted by Jessica Soho—a multi-award-winning broadcast journalist—and highlights fascinating stories on current and trending news and events. Millions of Filipinos across the Philippines wait for this show in anticipation every Sunday at eight-forty in the evening. What makes KMJS one of the best Filipino TV shows today is simply that it captivates the hearts of its viewers. A magazine-type TV show, KMJS doesn’t just entertain its audience, but informs them of things they may already know but don’t usually talk about.

If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest Filipino news while keeping your language skills sharp, this is definitely one of the Filipino educational TV shows you should watch.

    → Here’s an interesting episode of KMJS about the importance of learning the language Millennials speak, shown a couple of years ago


7. Unang Hirit

Are you an early bird? If yes, then Unang Hirit is the show for you. Unang Hirit literally means “First Strike.” The morning newscast goes live at four fifty-five in the morning and is GMA Network’s way of jumpstarting the day.

Hosted by the country’s top TV journalists of today (Arnold Clavio, Suzie-Entrata Abrera, Ivan Mayrina, and Mariz Umali, to name a few) Unang Hirit knows just what trending news to collect and share with the public. The field journalists, in particular, know what’s actually going on in the country and can confirm and add valuable information to issues being discussed in the studio.

Unang Hirit turned twenty on December 6, 2019. As the country’s longest-running morning show, it’s one of the top current Filipino TV shows to watch as you start your day.

    → Want to improve your time-reading skills in Filipino? Check out this lesson straight from our FilipinoPod101 page.

Unang Hirit’s news segment is called Unang Balita (”First News”). You can catch this show on Live Stream on the GMA News YouTube channel.


8. Umagang Kay Ganda

Umagang Kay Ganda (UKG) is Unang Hirit’s counterpart and is broadcast by ABS-CBN. It literally means “a morning so beautiful,” and true to its title, it is indeed one of those Tagalog news programs that gives you a reason to thank God for another day, every day.

The show premiered in 2007 and has become the network’s longest-running morning show.

Just like GMA’s Unang Hirit, UKG rolls out news headlines from the previous day.

What makes UKG unique, though, is the interaction and participation of the audience. And then there’s the lively and fun on-air discussions by the hosts Anthony Taberna, Amy Perez, Winnie Cordero, Ariel Ureta, Tina Marasigan, and Gretchen Ho. There’s no doubt you’ll learn a thing or two about Tagalog just by watching and listening to the exchanges by these extraordinary Pinoy TV journalists!

    → Did you know that UKG was awarded just recently with ‘Best Educational Morning TV Program’ in the first-ever College of Education Mass Media Choice Award of the University of Batangas? Here’s the video.


9. Bandila

If you’re a night owl, Bandila should be a great option for you. It’s a late-night (the show starts at eleven-ten p.m.) newscast presented by ABS-CBN and hosted by TV anchors Karen Davila and Julius Babao.

Bandila is Tagalog for “flag,” and as you might guess, one of the aims of the program is to take on issues that take place wherever the Filipino flag is being represented.

The show takes on the hottest issues of the day, with the hosts adding their own perspective and analysis to them.

One of the most unique segments of the program is Selfie Balita ( “Selfie News” ) wherein viewers are given the opportunity to film their own reports.

Here’s an episode of Bandila which aired during 2019’s holiday season, featuring Filipinos’ creativity in carving fruits and vegetables into Christmas ornaments.

    → A country’s national flag is its way of portraying its people and culture to the rest of the world. If you’re studying the Filipino language, it’s crucial that you’re aware of words and phrases associated with the Philippine flag.


10. Biyahe ni Drew

Anyone visiting the Philippines and learning the Tagalog language shouldn’t miss GMA Network’s Biyahe ni Drew. The show is hosted by actor and show host Drew Arellano, winner of three “Best Travel Host” awards for two different television travel shows.

According to its YouTube channel description, the show is “a travel show in the Philippines that takes its viewers on a budget-friendly adventure.”

Indeed, Biyahe ni Drew is filled not only with travel hacks, but with bucket list ideas and tips on how you can save money when traveling not only in the Philippines but also in international destinations.

If you want to see some of the most beautiful spots in the Philippines or abroad without leaving your room, and at the same time improve your Tagalog, Biyahe ni Drew is one of the best Filipino TV shows to watch.

Watch this episode of Biyahe ni Drew where our guy, Drew Arellano,
takes us with him to the sixth most visited city in Asia—Seoul, South Korea!


11. How FilipinoPod101 Can Help

Now you may be wondering how to watch Filipino TV shows in the first place.

Most of the shows on this Filipino TV series list are still currently being broadcast by their respective TV networks in the Philippines. You don’t have to be in the country, though, to have access to these exciting and educational programs—they’re also available on The Filipino Channel or TFC Filipino TV. And in case you’ve missed an episode, don’t worry because most of these TV programs also have their own YouTube channels where you can check out episodes you’ve missed, as well as old episodes you want to revisit.

Don’t think watching television is enough to enhance your Tagalog? Well, that’s the exact reason FilipinoPod101 is here. As a leading language-learning system, FilipinoPod101 provides learners with practical methods for studying Tagalog. That way, wherever you are in the Philippines—whether you’re commuting, enjoying a meal at a restaurant, or having a normal conversation with a friend—you can be confident that you’re speaking fluent Tagalog.

Did you enjoy our list of top TV shows in the Philippines for Tagalog learners? Let us know in the comments section if you have more Filipino TV shows in mind that you think should be on this list as well!

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