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Does the voice match the face?

Does the voice match the face?

By Isah V. Red

For a decade now, since the appearance on TV of Thalia as Marimar, the Filipinos have become enchanted with the soap opera made in Latin America, which their producers call la telenovela, literally a novel on television.

Filipino program suppliers on TV took a risk on Marimar, had it dubbed in Tagalog, or Filipino as our nationalist friends would insist, and put it on prime time TV. Suddenly, it was the single most popular show in town. Thalia, its Mexican star, became a big sensation across the archipelago.

A slew of Spanish-language soap opera followed Marimar, and evidently a love affair between the Pinoy soap addicts and the telenovelas from Latin America had blossomed, so much so that up until today majority of the daytime TV programming in the leading networks are filled with half-hour installments of the Spanish-language-dubbed-in-Tagalog daily series from Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, and Mexico.

Yet, these telenovelas wouldn’t have become very popular had they been aired in Spanish. Their success among the Filipinos can be attributed largely to the idea of translating them in Tagalog and dubbed by experienced voice talents, mostly from radio soap opera and dubbers for the movies and TV commercials.

More recently, the telenovela is taking a new turn with movie and TV actors providing the voice to some of the lead characters. It was a bold move for GMA when they hired ChinChin Gutierrez to give Beatriz Pinzon Solano, the lead character in the worldwide hit Yo soy Betty, la fea (GMA gave the soap an abbreviated title in bastardized Spanish: Betty la fea). In the long run, the network’s gamble paid off, mining its advertising potentials to the fullest and extending its run (by chopping the original episodes into shorter episodes) to over a year. It even came to a point that the failed sequel Eco Moda was also running at the same time on ABS-CBN.

In the currently running All My Love, the series that took over the time slot of Betty La Fea (now being replayed in the afternoon), GMA continues what it began, commissioning actors as voice talents, except the lead male character Santiago Ortega Diaz (played by the very handsome Ricardo Alamo) whose Filipino voice belongs to an experienced voice talent named Alvin Bernales.

The network doesn’t have an explanation for not giving a stellar voice to the male character, but based on what Bernales has been doing before his turn as the voice of Santiago it’s understandable. The voice talent is one of the most sought after on the dubbing scene, providing the voice to a considerable number of faces on television commercials and to some of the most popular lead actors in the movies. His is what voice casters call a handsome voice. It’s a deep baritone, the kind that women call “bedroom voice.”

All My Love, originally Mis Tres Hermanas, was one of the most popular telenovelas in Spanish-speaking countries last year. In fact, Alamo and Scarlet Ortiz who plays Lisa Estrada Rossi rank among the top telenovela stars in Latin America.

GMA is hoping that with a stellar voice cast, it will generate as much interest among telenovela fans as Betty La Fea did with ChinChin Gutierrez. Surprisingly, the casting of the voices seems perfect as audiences are becoming oblivious to the reality that the series is originally in Spanish.

Iza Calzado, who became popular via a shampoo commercial, is the voice of Lisa Estrada. Some say that the neophyte actress (she appears on a local soap on GMA) has very strong physical resemblance to Scarlet Ortiz.

Lisa’s older sister, Silvia, is given life in the soap’s Philippine run by Leni Rivera, an actress who studied drama at the New York University. She is also an up-and-coming interior designer.

“This is my first voice assignment,” she admits. “It’s a different experience, but after the first few episodes I found it very enjoyable.”

Evidently having the greatest time of her life is young star Katarina Perez who does the voice of Beatriz Estrada “La Beba” Rossi, the youngest of the three sisters.

Katarina is a Filipino Swede, born in Milan, Italy to a Filipino mother and Swedish father. After staying for sometime in Italy, the family decided to make Manila their home. Katarina is a rising star on TV, with a regular turn on Idol Ko si Kap as the sister of Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. She also made a cameo in last year’s Metro Manila Filmfest entry Agimat.

The three actors don’t work together, as they are scheduled to dub separately. “Sometimes, we see each other at the lobby, while I’m leaving the studio and they’re coming for their turn,” says Katarina.

Amazingly unbelievable is the fact that all three stars voicing the lead characters had no previous experience in dubbing before All My Love. Katarina, the youngest, had a slight difficulty at the beginning, but easily learned the ropes just after the third episode. Leni, with her drama background, easily picked up the techniques and breezed through her part like a pro.

Even Iza, daughter of choreographer-dancer Lito Calzado, didn’t have much difficulty as a voice talent.

Experienced voice talent Alvin Bernasol shares the secret of his success to his fellow dubbers. “Study the script and analyze carefully the lines. An amateur dubber will simply read whatever is written on the paper. An experienced dubber will try to do something to make the lines sound as natural as possible. In the case of Tagalized telenovelas, it is no longer a matter of whether you perfectly dub to fit the movements of the mouth of the actors, but in how you are able to project the character to the audience.”

At the end of the day, the success of the Tagalog version of a Spanish telenovela doesn’t rest on the names and faces of the star providing the voices to the characters. As Alvin says, the voice must match the face.

All My Love goes on air every day, except Sunday, 11:30 (give or take several minutes delay) on GMA.



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