GMA Network is home to the best and most decorated TV shows not just in the local scene, but internationally as well. With an endless string of award-winning and fan-favorite soaps, GMA-7 has solidified its presence among millions of households worldwide. In retrospect, behind every great feat the Network has is a roster of talented and passionate individuals that have brought to life stories that were once just written on paper.
Kapuso Drama directors Mark Reyes, Don Michael Perez, Mark dela Cruz, Irene Villamor, LA Madridejos and Dominic Zapata are known for their inspired works on various series.
“I’ve been directing for more than 25 years,” shared Direk Mark, who famously directed the Network’s highly-successful fantasy series, Encantadia. “I am very thankful to GMA that they gave me the chance to direct different genres from all forms of dramas, to live shows around the world for GMA Pinoy TV and live Sunday afternoon musicals and films as well.”
Direk Don, who has been with GMA since 2005, moved his way up from being a spiels director, “Since then I have gone on to direct numerous shows, anthologies, and series for primetime and afternoon prime. I would say I have been able to hone my craft to meet the demands of the current TV landscape.”
On the other hand, Direk Mark dela Cruz is looking forward to engaging a wider audience reach. “With all the new emerging media platforms, I’m looking forward to new genres that will tackle a wider range of audience not only in the Philippines but targeting the global market,” he said.
Direk Irene feels privileged to be given the creative freedom to bring her visions to life, “I've been privileged to have been allowed to bring some aspects of how I do films into TV. There are technical and production principles that have been applied in my last shows. So with all this exploration, I hope to continue in the upcoming projects and push for quality in all aspects. I hope to ride on the trend that film and tv are no longer different in terms of production value and story.”
Moreover, Direk LA is also pushing for new techniques to adapt in the local and international industry, “Ang daming learnings especially sa industry natin kasi need naming maging updated sa trends, technologies, techniques, etc. Lalo na ngayon na we are also looking na maipalabas ang shows natin sa ibang streaming platforms.”
Meanwhile, Direk Dominic continues to find enjoyment in the direction process, “With every new project I continue to be genuinely thrilled with the process of its creation, and every time I am still fascinated with how I can execute a script in a different, perhaps fresh new way. For me, there is a pureness in the joy of telling a story.”
Newly-signed director Jerry Sineneng, on the other hand, is looking forward to working on a new horizon, “I am most excited with the prospect that I will be working with a group of actors, creative team, staff, and crew, whom I have never worked before. I believe that life is a continuous learning process, and I am excited to interact with a different brand of talents.”
Similarly notable Kapuso Drama directors who have made significant contributions to the industry are Jorron Monroy, Zig Dulay, Monti Parungao, Ricky Davao, Gina Alajar, Laurice Guillen, Rico Gutierrez, Neal del Rosario, and Rechie del Carmen.
Focusing on elevating local cinematography, Direk Jorron is pushing for worldwide recognition of Filipino content. “With the rise of on-demand streaming platforms, the taste of the Filipino audiences has been elevated. It paved way for us, artists, to be more experimental in giving new and artful executions on our TV programs. My primary aim is for original Filipino content to be able to compete in the world stage,” he said.
On the other hand, Direk Zig is keen on having more cultures and people represented on teleseryes, “Looking forward ako na sana magtuloy-tuloy pa rin sa pagkakaroon ng mga serye na kagaya ng Sahaya at Legal Wives, na hindi lang magbabahagi ng mga kuwento ng mga Indigenous Peoples kundi ng mga taong nasa gilid-gilid at madalas walang representasyon o boses sa mainstream media.”
Direk Monti is looking to push storytelling beyond what is usually done, “I am looking forward to new ways of storytelling. New plots and twists that we can execute in the new production procedures brought by the pandemic safety protocols. The application of new visual quality brought by new technology is always a plus whenever we get new projects.”
Direk Ricky agrees that Kapuso shows are also made for the appreciation of both local and international audiences, “From exploring new storylines, themes, and different platforms. I am also excited because GMA has invested in state-of-the-art equipment to bring these stories to life with beautiful visuals. I look forward to these stories being presented across the country and worldwide.”
Direk Gina looks to adapt and create new practices in her upcoming projects, “Since I am a fan of Korean Dramas, hopefully in the future we can try different approaches in the making of, different star combinations, and hopefully we can have more epic dramas.”
For Direk Laurice, GMA is home and shared one of her proudest Kapuso stints, which is the top-rated daytime drama series, Ika-6 Na Utos. “It was a proud moment not just for me but for the entire team – production, creative, technical, and the actors. In all the years, I have been a director with Kapuso, I have felt very happy and at home. Kapuso has always kept a personal and professional connection with me, which I value very much,” she said.
Direk Rico may have done it all, but he continues to find joy in his work, “I’m grateful I get to direct different types of television shows, from children shows, game/reality shows, musical shows even news, public affairs shows, and action /fantasy shows. Masaya siya. Don't want to sound cliché but I love my work.”
Adding to that, Direk Neal admits that their craft is a continuous learning process, “As a director, our responsibility as storytellers is to touch hearts. I never stopped learning new things when it comes to honing my craft. Knowledge is a continuous effort but should be coupled with passion, dedication, maturity, and humility.”
On the other hand, Direk Rechie shared the project that she is most proud of. “I am a Kapuso director for five years now. My proudest Kapuso moment is being involved with First Yaya which was a phenomenal primetime rater and is now moving to create its book two, First Lady.”
Apart from directors, a show will not be as successful as it is if not for its backbone – a creative team – whose main goal is to create and elevate a story into a visual masterpiece that will give the audience the best viewing experience.
GMA Drama creative director Aloy Adlawan and creative consultants Richard ‘Dode’ Cruz, RJ Nuevas, Suzette Doctolero, Des Garbes-Severino, Kit Villanueva-Zapata, Denoy Navarro-Punio, Jojo Nones, and Agnes Gagelonia-Uligan all shared some of their favorite Kapuso shows to have worked on.
For Direk Aloy, ‘Sinenovela’s Magdusa Ka’, his first teleserye in GMA as Headwriter, was unforgettable. "The show not only went into air with really high ratings, but it was also the first GMA drama show that was nominated in the International Emmys for Best Telenovela." Another show close to his heart was 'The Good Daughter’ which starred Kylie Padilla in a heavy acting role where she proved herself as a credible actress. In the NUTAM history of published ratings, The Good Daughter was the first show to achieve double-digit ratings in the Afternoon Prime programming.
For Dode, his first soap is also his most favorite. "To this day, my most favorite soap that I conceptualized is still 'Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin' because it was the first successful GMA-7 produced soap that paved the way for the current GMA Telebabad. It was my very first soap opera head writing job where I learned so much. I was so euphoric seeing my first baby become a hit for my beloved home network."
“Favorite conceptualized shows are Ika-6 Na Utos and Anna Karenina,” shared RJ Nuevas. “Because of how these shows resonated with the audience.”
For Suzette, it was difficult to choose just one. “I have so many. ‘Encantadia’ because I felt like a child again when we were writing that show. ‘Amaya’ because I’ve learned a lot kasi ang dami kong books na binasa for that. ‘My Husband’s Lover’ because it was so beautiful. It talks about love, it’s liberating.”
Des’s choice is one that challenged her during the height of strict safety measures of the current pandemic, “The most memorable Kapuso show that I conceptualized is probably "I Can See You". It was the first show that was taped during the pandemic, and we were just so happy to prove that it could be done. That it was well-received by the viewers was just a bonus. I felt at that time that it proved our resilience and assured us that entertainment was still essential even during the pandemic.”
Kit, in turn, is drawn towards more character-centered stories, “My favorite would have to be ‘Grazilda.’ I always lean towards character-driven concepts. Grazilda is a feminist antihero – a standout, not like any other I’ve ever written. She is selfish, temperamental, bratty not a typical protagonist by any means, but she certainly has depth.”
On the other hand, Denoy’s choice is ‘To Have and To Hold,’ which showed the intricacies involved in a marriage, “I wanted to create a series that encapsulates a breakdown of a marriage and how the characters deal with their disillusionment, the pain of betrayal and how to also heal from it.”
For Jojo, the top-rating romcom ‘First Yaya’ is a proud moment, “I felt so proud and grateful when ‘First Yaya’ was the number 1 program in the country, regardless of genre or format. I would get private messages from viewers thanking First Yaya for lightening the loads that they carried especially during the time of the pandemic.”
Agnes narrowed it down to two choices – ‘Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko’ and ‘Love of my Life.’ “Masarap ‘yung nakaka-entertain ka na, nakakapagturo ka pa sa mga bata, at maging sa matatanda. Kapag nagsusulat, dapat malinaw kung ano’ng natutunan or “take away” ng viewers. For LOML, it’s a family drama na realistic ang approach. Nakakatuwa na tinanggap ng viewers kahit hindi ito ang nakasanayan nilang drama,” she said.
Whether it’s a drama or a romcom, one thing is for certain – directors, creatives, and other talented people behind the camera are happy to give their best for Kapuso viewers every single time.