Ever since “Hiwaga sa Bahay na Bato” aired in 1963, telenovelas have been a mainstay in Philippine television. Ever thought of writing one? Well, here are tips on how to write a telenovela.




Make the title of the theme song the title of your show. OR

Make the name of your main character the title of your show. OR

Make it an utterly depressing title (Magdusa Ka, Mga Basang Sisiw) or something that sounds profound at first but nonsensical in afterthought (Tubig at Langis, Kadenang Ginto).



If you will set it in a province in the Philippines, it has to look like it is still post-World War 2. Above all, there must be a hacienda.

If you will set it in Metro Manila, you must have the following locations: a mansion, a hideout for goons, a hospital, a police station, a school, and an informal settlers’ area.



Filipino is reserved for the male and female lead.

Proper English with a thick conio accent is reserved for the rich villains.

Taglish is reserved for professionals (ex: police, doctors).

Balbal is reserved for goons.



Red carpet attire (e.g. tuxedos for men, gowns for women) is reserved for the rich villains.

Heavy make-up and jewelry are reserved for the evil women.

Dusters are reserved for the hero/heroine’s mother.

Black leather jackets, shades, and eyepatches are reserved for goons.

White jackets, glasses, and stethoscopes are reserved for doctors.


The male lead must be able to fight goons with guns and bare hands. He must be able to shrug off punches, knife wounds, even bullet wounds, but must cringe and cry in pain while being treated by the female lead after a fight.

The female lead must look for her family, or to be more specific, her mother. They were separated either by a tragic accident (ex: a trash slide) or due to being switched by the main villain who wants revenge. The female lead can also have a deformity (scars, a literal face on the back of her head) which is the cause of her being abused and made fun of. And she must have an endless supply of tears for those times that she gets abused by the evil female leads.

The male lead’s best friend must have no life of his own and must be absolutely supportive toward the male lead. The same goes for the female lead’s best friend.

The missing mother must have amnesia.

There must be an elderly religious figure (ex: a nun, a priest) to console the abused female lead.

There must be a precocious child to overtly give commentary or the moral of the episode. This can also be the main character.


The evil male lead must be rich, evil, and menacing. He must be a two-faced, diabolical, manipulative jerk. If he is the mayor, he must have more power than the President and must have in his employ goons and/or the police.

The teenage evil female lead must be rich, evil, and frivolous. She must wear lots of make up and jewelry. She must look like she’s ready to go to bed. She must also have a hammy evil smirk. Either she is trying to marry into money, or was switched at birth and became part of a rich family.

The elderly evil female lead (stepmom/grandmother) must be rich, evil, and dictatorial. She must look really old but still have thick make up and jewelry. She must be verbally and physically abusive to her servants and the protagonists. She must also shout over-the-top insults and abuse while her eyes look like they’re about to pop out of their sockets.

The young evil female lead must be rich, evil, and prima donna. Even as a pre-teen, she already wears make up and jewelry. She can also have a hammy evil smirk.

The teenage/young evil female lead must have a sycophantic posse or clique who will support her in her evil ways.

There must be an evil character with a physical deformity.

The goons must look like they need a shower and a shave, refer to the evil male lead as “Sir” or “Boss”, wear black leather, and cannot accurately hit the male lead with guns.


Children are switched at birth.

The male lead and the female lead are part of a love triangle.

A gunfight happens. Either the male lead doesn’t get hit in spite of numerous goons shooting him with rapid-fire guns, or he gets shot and shrugs it off.

A catfight happens. The girls always go for each other’s hair or slap each other on the face.

The male lead and the female lead will find out that they are related, then find out much later that they are not.

The male and female lead will take a long walk on the beach while holding hands.

The female lead and the teenage evil female lead will find out that they are related. This will not stop the latter from abusing the former. Instead, the latter uses it as an excuse to abuse the former.

The male lead will bring pancit home and find out that someone in his family just died.

The lead will swear, on his/her relatives’ grave, to take revenge on the antagonists.

The female lead will be kidnapped by the evil female lead.

The cops will arrive late, usually after one of the protagonists is shot.


The main characters will become homeless for a while in the city.

The female lead will go overseas for work then get abused by a foreigner.

The male lead will eventually be on the run from the cops due to false accusations made by the antagonists.

There will be a trial lasting several weeks.

If the show has multiple seasons, the current season will end on a cliffhanger. Usually, a main character dies, meaning a new character will be introduced in the next season.

The female lead will become rich in one of three ways. 1) A long-lost relative will die and leave her a vast fortune. 2) She will find her family alive and well. They will turn out to be unbelievably rich. 3) She will marry the male lead who is the only son of an immensely wealthy family.

Near the series finale, the big reveal is made in which something (e.g. DNA test, CCTV video clip, a witness, a diary) proves that the female lead was switched at birth and is actually the child of an incredibly rich couple.

In the show’s final week, one of two possible endings will befall the antagonists. 1) They see the error of their ways after experiencing tragedy and gain redemption, thereby ending up on good terms with everyone. If the antagonist is a woman, she will stop wearing so much make up and jewelry after this. 2) Their karma catches up with them and they die in a spectacularly gory, violent way (ex: being trampled by a frenzied audience in a concert, being dropped from a helicopter into a river full of alligators, etc.).

The male lead and the female lead will get married and have children.



FINAL THOUGHTS: None for this article. Watch out for part 2.