The Evil Aunts And Uncles Of Philippine Teleserye

A typical aunt’s tender loving care. From today’s Encantadia episode

If we’re fortunate enough, the brothers and sisters of our parents maybe as equally loving and kind. Not so in the literatures. I don’t know why is it, or if it is their writers’ own experiences, but the depictions of uncles and aunts are usually evil.

While in some works of fiction like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer shows a loving aunt or uncles despite of their mischievous nephews, most  of them are depicted as savagely unfavorable. Perhaps one of the most despised uncles in modern literature is Uncle Vernon the Harry Potter series where the titular protagonist was maltreated so badly, despite of Dumbledore’s otherwise advice to treat him kind, shortly after the then baby wizard’s parents were murdered.

In the Philippine teleserye, the tiyuhin and tiyahin are stereotypically depicted as evil to their nephews and nieces, treating them more like a very lowly domestic helpers rather than their own relative. I have seen some other storylines where tiyahins treated their nephews well but behind their kindness is a sinister plan to eventually dispose of him.

This is how a typical relationship with the protagonist and their uncles / aunts go. Both of their parents die, and they are adopted by the brother or sister of their now deceased parents, and they’re  the only relatives they had or known for miles. Then while their cousins are treated well, they are treated as lowly househelper and often physically abused even with their tiniest faults.

If you ever watched today’s episode of Encantadia, that’s exactly what the grownup Paopao, who was a chubby human child kidnapped to Encantadia then later reunited with his parents, had experienced before being rescued by the spirit of the Brilyante ng Diwa.

On the other hand, I think there is already some favorable variations in the depiction of the stepparents, who even in the children’s fairy tales are depicted as evil. This year’s remake of Encantadia had baby Lira brought to a kind parent, or rather actually found by them after she was banished by the then-evil Pirena. The mother’s loving kindness went on even after the tragic death of her husband, whom Lira is partially responsible. But yet, Lira’s “tiyuhin” (her stepmother’s brother) is a typical evil teleserye uncle and actually engaged in criminal activities. This is one major deviation from the original, where Lira’s human stepparents treat her misearbly.

As far as I remember, the only aunts and uncles that treat their protagonist nephews and nieces very well as depicted in the teleserye are the Sanggres and their spouses (as of the most recent storyline). No other teleseryes have uncles and aunts that kind, not even close.

But to summarize, Encantadia as a whole is about dead parents and kind stepparents. Some kind of variation from a 90s teleserye I knew which is about baby switching (as in, several sub-storylines about baby switching).

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