Imagining a local version of ‘Reply 1988’

I recently finished Reply 1988 after years of downplaying it despite my shy-admiration for Park Bo Gum. The 2-hour-per-episode of Reply 1988 initially turned me off. It’s like watching 20 old-school movies with a ‘sitcom’ format. Nope. But I finally dove in. And look where you found me.

Reply 1988 follows the lives of five families living on the same street in a neighborhood called Ssangmundong in Seoul, Korea. A nostalgic look back at the year 1988. (source: google)

Reply 1988’s position as one of the highest-rated Korean Dramas speaks for itself so there’s no need for a long-overdue review. But this series left me with an afterthought.

Anything nostalgic sells. That’s the winning formula of Reply 1988. And I think this is something that local storytellers and producers can use.

WATCH: Reply 1988 Trailer (A 2015 South Korean TV Series) | Where to watch: VIU or Netflix

Filipinos — the majority, plus bandwagoners — hate remakes. It’s like murdering a masterpiece, we presume. Many are against it. Some producers dismiss the idea; doing so is a subtle admission of creative fatigue. Acquiring content rights is also a burden for them; it can be tedious. There’s a lack of trust because there are more boo-boos than woohoo’s whenever we remake foreign stories.

I can only remember two successful local remakes: GMA-7’s version of Mexican telenovela Marimar and ABSCBN’s remake of an early KDRAMA favorite 49 Days (locally titled “Pure Love”). Both remakes propelled Marian Rivera’s and Alex Gonzaga’s careers.

Whenever I watch KDramas, I sometimes nominate local actors who could fit the roles of my favorite foreign leads. Just for fun. But after watching Reply 1988, I realized that a nostalgic plot like this is something that we can recreate. Seriously, kaya natin gumawa ng ganito. And even though some films attempted to revisit our youth for backstory purposes, we haven’t lodged on a certain era as main settings for a series. For writers, watching Reply 1988 would inspire you to develop an eye-opening story that would mirror one’s childhood. It could be your childhood. Your youth. Your community. An era.

Speaking of remakes, let’s trigger more memories by reliving the best moments of the 1990s. Scenes that we’d like to see in a local retelling of Reply 1988.

Remember the song ‘Tell The World of His Love’? World Youth Day 1995.

Credits to the owner.

Remember our sweet spot for animes? Ghost Fighter in IBC 13 and a re-run in GMA 7.

The first scene of Reply 1988 shows the main squad watching a TV Show. Imagine that setup in the Philippine setting.

Remember the birth of Eraserheads’ Ang Huling El Bimbo?

What happened in the Philippines when Michael Jackson visited the country in 1996? How did our fathers react when Onyok won silver in the Atlanta Summer Olympics? What were your school programs during the 100th Anniversary of Philippine Independence in 1998? Did you also buy those Kalayaan pins? Did it also shock you when Mirriam Quiambao made it to the top 2 in Miss Universe 1999?

Won’t you feel sentimental looking at these throwback items and old-school practices (or faves): Tapes. Song-hits with posters (posters plastered on our walls). Telephone Directory. Telephone. Beeper. Ice Candy. Paper Dolls. Piko. Pepsi 7-up. Pogs. Outfits. Your favorite boyband. Gimik. TGIS.

Pogs | CTTO
’90s OOTD.

A nostalgic telling of our best era would be interesting for the old and new audience. There’s a narrative that’s not acceptable in the ’90s but it is acceptable today. Like, for example, in 1988, having the same surname or marrying a guy from the same in-law was scandalous in Korea. What did we have in the ‘90s?

If we can lift the same character plot of Reply 1988 while highlighting the best era in the Philippines (which I think was the ‘90s), then I am all for it. And while I am at it, allow me to (hypothetically) suggest names of celebrities who can pass as local versions of Deok San, Taek, Bo-ra, Sun-woo, and the rest of the cast.


Maine Mendoza as Sung Deok-San

Joshua Garcia as Choi Taek

Enchong Dee as Kim Jung-hwan

JC Santos as Ryu Dong-ryong

Check JC Santos’ role in Miracle In Cell and you’d agree why I chose him as Ryu Dong-ryong.

Bibo Reyes (from Ang Huling El Bimbo) as Sung Sun-woo

We need a gentle ‘giant’ to portray Sun-woo’s role. Remember that he also has to share a chemistry with a younger sibling. The emotional tension is also heavy on Sun-woo’s side. It would be cool if we have someone from the theater to do the role.


Remember when you used to rush in front of your TV Screens with your childhood friends just to watch Ghost Fighter? Imagine that scenario as the opening scene in Reply 1988’s PH version.

Sue Ramirez as Sung Bo-ra

Sue Ramirez’s strong facade in Cuddle Weather can be used as a character reference.

Supporting Cast:

Empoy or Jerald Napoles as Sung No-eul

My initial choice was really Empoy. Sung No-eul has to be someone who looks old despite him being the youngest sibling of Deuk-san and Bo-ra. But if we are to lift Reply 1988’s character plot, Sung No-eul has to be someone who knows how to sing; hence, Jerald Napoles.

Ryan Bang as Kim Jung-bong

Are you laughing right now while imagining this scene with Ryan Bang and Kim Molina? Hihi.

Kim Molina as Maggie


Manilyn Reynes as Lee II-Hwa (Deok-San’s mother) and Benjie Paras as Sung Dong-ill (Deok San’s father)

  • Remember Mama Bear and Papa Bear? (Got To Believe reference)

Jose Manalo or Gardo Versosa as Kim Sung Kyun (Jung Hwan’s father) and Eugene Domingo as Ra Mi-ran (Jung Hwan’s mother)

  • I chose Jose since this role has to blend with Deuk-san’s character (President Kim!!!). If it’s Maine Mendoza and Jose Manalo, comical chemistry won’t be an issue.

Monching Guttierez as Choi Moosung (Taek’s father)

Geli De Belen as Kim Sun-young (Sun-woo’s mother)

Joey Marquez or Janno Gibs as Yoo Jae Myung (Dong-ryong’s father)

This is just a wishful thought. But imagine the riot if we huddle these artists in one nostalgic show where no one is a villain. If we award this to great storytellers, reputable directors, and dreamy producers, I am hopeful that a local remake of Reply 1988 will be successful and will win the viewers’ hearts.


Your thoughts? Any suggestions?


Hallyu Headspace, mostly BTS 💜

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store