March 23, 2023

Batibot/Radyo Batibot

(Small But Strong/Batibot Radio) / 14 May 1984 to 2000 / Revived 27 Nov 2010 to 2014 / 14 May 1984 to 1991: 4:00-5:00 pm, then 10:00-11:00 am, Monday to Friday / RPN 9 / also 9:00-10:00 am, then 3:00-4:00 pm, Monday to Friday / PTV 4 / 1991–94 / ABS-CBN / 1994–95, RPN 9 / 1995–97, 10:00-11:00 am, Monday to Friday / GMA 7 / 1998-99 / RPN 9 / 1999–2000 / GMA 7, as Batang Batibot; 2010–14, 8:30-9:00 am, then 7:30-8:00 am, Monday to Friday / with five-minute spots at 8:55 am and 2:55 pm, Monday to Friday / ABC 5/TV 5 / Beginning late 1980s, Monday to Friday / DZAM, later called DZAR / Producer: Philippine Children’s Television Foundation / Executive Producers: Lydia Benitez-Brown, Feny de los Angeles-Bautista / Line Producers: Vivian Recio, Mayee Fabregas, Carina Villanoz, Cielo Reyes, Paula Popple, Liezl Tiamzon, Vicky Jinon, and Margie Templo / Curriculum and Research Director: Feny de los Angeles-Bautista / Directors: Kokoy Jimenez, Noel Añonuevo, Lem Garcellano, Carmelo Sta. Maria, Chuck Escasa, Rico Gutierrez / Creative Director: Rene O. Villanueva / Head Writers: Rene O. Villanueva, Lem Garcellano, Augie Rivera / Writers: Tomas Agulto, Donato Alvarez, Chuck Escasa, Ronald Mina, Pearl Mina, Augie Rivera, Millette Burgos, Elmer L. Gatchalian / Production Designers and Art Directors: Rodell Cruz, Joji Pamintuan, Sammy Esquillon, Dwight Gaston / Musical Directors and Composers: Louie Ocampo and Mel Villena / Lyricist: Rene O. Villanueva / Ethnic Instrumentation: Kontemporaryong Gamelang Pilipino / Closing Billboard Arrangement: Alamid / Puppet Voices and Puppeteers: Deo Noveno for Pong Pagong, Sammy Badon then Toots Javellana for Kiko Matsing, Rey Binalla for Filemon, Rose Nalundasan for Manang Bola and Ningning, Sandra Palad for Gingging, Rodelia Legazpi for Irma Daldal and Kapitan Basa / Cast: Luisito “Bodjie” Pascua, Sienna Olaso, Junix InocianIsay Alvarez-Seña, Ching Arellano, Dwight Gaston, Adriana AgcaoiliSoliman Cruz, and more recently, Abner Delina and Kakki Teodoro


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Original cast members of Batibot, from left, Junix Inocian, Sienna Olaso, and at right, Bodjie Pascua, joined by puppets Kiko Matsing and Pong Pagong (Photo courtesy of Philippine Children’s Television Foundation)


Batibot is one of the Philippines’s longest running television programs for children aged from four to six. The word batibot means “small but strong,” an apt description for the show’s production style and objective of empowering Filipino children. The program’s predecessor, Sesame!, was a 1980s co-production of the Philippine Sesame Street Project (PSSP), then managed by the Philippine government’s Ministry of Human Settlements, and the New York-based Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), the producer of the TV program Sesame StreetSesame! consisted of segments in English and Filipino in a magazine format. The PSSP became the Philippine Children’s Television Foundation, the producer of Batibot, when it parted ways with CTW in 1984.


Batibot followed a magazine format that mixes studio sequences with storytelling, situational skits, modular lessons, short educational music videos, animation, live action films, and puppetry to produce an integrated learning experience for the child. The contents convey Filipino nationalism through the use of the Filipino language and appreciation of things Filipino. Its segments address the lives of Filipino children, framed by an educational curriculum that considers the child’s intellectual, psycho-motor, moral, and sociocultural development. A significant segment that helps reawaken Filipino children’s love for literature is “Mga Kuwento ni Kuya Bodjie” in which Kuya Bodjie (Pascua) uses direct on-camera storytelling, supplemented by colorful illustrations depicting choice scenes. The show’s 30-minute radio version, Radyo Batibot, specifically designed for children with ages 7 to 12, follows the same format, but designs the lessons, content, and approaches appropriate for the characteristics, needs, and interests of its target audience.


Batibot featured characters from Philippine folk tales, like Pong Pagong, the six-foot giant turtle mascot who stands on his hind legs, towers over human characters, and loves kangkong (water spinach), and Kiko Matsing, the husky-voiced, smart-alecky muppet monkey. Some mainstay muppet characters include the young chatty sisters Ningning and Gingging; the inquisitive and child-like creatures from outer space, Sitsiritsit and Alibangbang, whose names are derived from a nursery rhyme; the talkative and fashion-conscious starlet, Irma Daldal, and her male partner, Tikyo Tiktilaok; the superhero Kapitan Basa who loves to read; and the lovable bespectacled fortune teller Manang Bola who, ironically, sometimes suffers from memory loss and whose lines when consulting her crystal ball “Perlas na bilog, huwag tutulog, sabihin agad sa akin ang sagot” (Crystal ball, be alert, tell me right away the answer) followed by “ba be bi bo bu” became so popular in teaching vowel sounds and an effective way to answer the many questions of children. These muppets keep company with friendly human characters, like the resident storyteller Kuya Bodjie (Pascua) and the caring neighborhood friends Ate Sienna (Olaso), Kuya Mario (Inocian), Ate Isay (Alvarez-Seña), Mokyo (Cruz), Kuya Ching (Arellano), and Ate Joji (Agcaoili).


In 1994, Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing were pulled out from the show because of alleged licensing issues with CTW. In 1999, PCTVF cooperated with Ry/Bashman Productions in repackaging the show as Batang Batibot but went off the air in 2000 when it had difficulties facing tough competition from the growing number of Filipino and foreign educational programs. The revived program in 2010, with some original and new cast members, featured two segments, “Kwentong Batibot” (Batibot Stories) and “Balik Batibot” (Return to Batibot), a collection of selected episodes from the original Batibot program.


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Kakki Teodoro, second row, leftmost, Abner Delina, Amihan Ruiz, and the Batibot muppets, 2011 (Photo courtesy of TV5 and PCTVF)


Batibot spawned the production of children’s books, cassette tapes of the program’s songs, language learning tapes and videos, live entertainment programs that focus on environmental protection, and the same company’s production of the Chinese-Filipino TV program Pin-Pin and another children’s TV show Koko Kwik Kwak, whose character is a four-year-old eaglet patterned after Pag-asa, the first Philippine eagle hatched under laboratory conditions. PCTVF produced 6,650 episodes in a span of 22 years, plus 29 episodes from the revival.


Batibot’s numerous awards include the Gawad CCP Para sa Telebisyon in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1995; the KBP Golden Dove Awards in 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2000, and 2011; the PMPC Star Awards for TV in 1987, 1989, 1992, 1997, 2000, and 2013; and several Catholic Mass Media Awards. It also won several awards and commendations from the Prix Jeunesse International Festival which includes the Special Jury Prize in 1990, the BMW prize for the “most outstanding program produced with limited facilities” in 1998, and the UNICEF Prize in 2002. Batibot was also one of the finalists in the “Up to 6 years old Non-Fiction” category of the same festival. Pascua also won two PMPC Star Awards, as best children’s show host, in 1987 and 1988.

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