March 25, 2023

Battle of the Brains

1992-2001 / Saturdays, noon to 1:30 pm, 1:30-3:00 pm, 2:00-3:30 pm / RPN 9 / 1992-99 / PTV-4 / 1999–2001 / Produced by Focal Media Arts Inc and Uniwide Sales Group, then AMA Computer College, with the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports / Host: David Celdran / Alternates: Chiqui Roa-Puno, Cathy Santillan, Anthony Suntay


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David Celdran, host of Battle of the Brains, 1992 (Photo courtesy of RPN 9)

Battle of the Brains was a quiz show for elementary, high school, and university students from public and private schools recognized by the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports. It has consultants from the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University who serve as judges. Problem sets cover science, mathematics, arts and culture, history, current events, and general information in easy, average, and difficult rounds with a corresponding increase in prizes.

Each elementary and high school is represented by two students. A university is represented by one student. Weekly winners compete in the monthly finals, the winners of which compete in the quarterfinals, and then battle with the best in the grand finals. Prizes in the grand finals are 300,000 pesos for the elementary level winner, 400,000 pesos for the high school level winner, and 500,000 pesos for the college level winner. 100,000 pesos each is given to the school and coach of the winners in the elementary and high school levels. There are no similar prizes for the college winner. Grand finals are held in big assembly areas such as the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and the University Theater of the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

The combined rewards of achieving personal recognition and institutional prestige, honoring one’s parents, and getting big prizes made it one of the most popular television programs in the 1990s. It commanded a huge following, especially among the country’s youth, including their family elders. Thousands of students in hundreds of schools from different parts of the country would contact Focal Media Arts to join the weekly finals. It was said that student viewers at home also tried solving the problems and competing with peers for their own version of prizes. Parents are reported to have written and thanked the producers for encouraging their children to study. Bereft of showbiz gimmicks and utilizing a set with no glamorous design, Battle of the Brains has proven that the Filipino audience also demands substance in entertainment.

Schools that have sent students to the grand finals boast of their alumni’s inclusion in the show on their websites and in promotional materials. The program even had an invitational tournament for the three student levels in the Southeast Asian region which was held on 4 Jul 1997 at the PICC. All the levels were won by the Filipino contestants.

When the Uniwide Sales Group could no longer sustain the program, AMA Computer College stepped in, moved the show to PTV 4 in 1999, and sponsored it until its last run in 2001.

David Celdran was acclaimed best game show host by the PMPC Star Awards for three consecutive years in 1994-96. The Catholic Mass Media Awards conferred on the program the Lorenzo Ruiz Award for Television Entertainment in 1996 for “inspiring its youthful audience to strive for excellence in school and in everything they do.”

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