1. During the translation process for the subtitling, was there a specific principle that you followed?
We use the same principles for all the movies we have worked on (Otso, Badil, Instant Mommy, Here Comes the Bride, Foster Child, Maximo Oliveros, etc): Keep the subtitles as short and concise as possible, render the ideas accurately but do not do a literal word-for-word translation. The English-speaking audience is there to watch the movie, not read it. Also, do not assume that the foreign viewer, the primary audience for subtitles, knows anything about Filipino culture. They would not know “Kuya” or “Ate”, for example.
2. How do you view translation? Is it an academic or a vocational skill?
That would depend on the material that is being translated. For movies, our main concern is to convey the meaning of the lines in as few words as possible. Academic translations would require greater detail.
3. “Belinda, mas mahal ko” when translated turned to “Belinda, my love multiplied”. Pwede mo po bang ipaliwanag kung bakit kayo nagcome up sa ganitong translation?
You have to consider the context in which the words were spoken. Belinda had just said, “Brando, mahal ko”, to which Brando replied, “Belinda, mas mahal ko.”
– Brando, my love.
– Belinda, whom I love more.
Jeffrey changed it to “Belinda, my love multiplied”—Brando is telling Belinda that he loves her more, like “love times ten”. This is less accurate, but funnier. The movie makes fun of telenovelas, the unreality of the dramatic situations they portray, and the ludicrously overstated dialogue, so “my love multiplied” works.
4. Ano ang common factors na inico-consider mo kapag nagtatranslate? Particularly during the time na ginawa mo ang subtitles ng Ekstra.
Although the characters are Filipino, the English subtitles should sound like lines uttered by Americans or Brits. They should be brief and not overly literal, and they should account for cultural differences. For instance, in Ekstra, which is set in the world of TV production, “service” means “the vehicle that takes you to work”. Elsewhere, “service” is “assistance given to customers”. So “Andiyan na ang service” cannot be rendered as “Here comes the service”—that would be confusing to an English person. In the context of Ekstra it becomes “Here comes the van.”
For Badil, Chito Roño’s election thriller, we thought it necessary to provide a brief background for foreign viewers unfamiliar with Philippine electoral practices. So we suggested a prologue, sort of like the voice-over at the start of Law and Order: SVU episodes. “In the Philippines, to prevent electoral fraud, voters get indelible ink marks on their right index fingers after they cast their votes. This keeps them from voting more than once. To prevent the known supporters of a candidate from casting their votes, the opponent pays them to get their fingers inked before election day. This practice is known as dynamite or badil.”
We had a discussion with Jeffrey about the scene in Ekstra in which the oppressed assistant director is tired of being chastised by the director so he says, “Papatulan ko na yan.” Jeffrey suggested “I’ll give him a dose of his own medicine”, which is too long, and does not convey the power structure in the director-AD relationship. We suggested “I’ll forget he’s my boss”—the AD declaring that he’s about to start a mutiny. We don’t remember which translation made it to the final cut. It’s always good to be able to discuss the material with the filmmakers—it’s their project, after all, and we’re just making it accessible to the foreigners.
Thank you for your questions, hope this helps.