More than 25 years ago, I mused myself watching from our well-off neighbor’s television set, aside from listening to our small AM-FM radio.  Since, we didn’t have our TV set until 1980’s, I enjoyed most of my childhood years in real play with other children in the neighborhood. But in the morning at weekends when we have time, we would watch Sesame Street, before Batibot came in the picture. Batibot in the vernacular means small but strong and robust, which only shows that it can have a comeback and withstand commercialism in the media.

Batibot premiered in the mid 80s, it was like the localized version of Sesame Street. If I remember it right, there was even a time that Sesame Street was aired using the vernacular. It was a better decision for the Children’s Television Network that produced Sesame Street to have helped the Philippine TV have its own children’s program similar in format to Sesame. What saddens me though is due to legalistic constraints, as that of property and licensing rights, children who were getting to love Kiko Matsing and Pong Pagong would have to missed them from the show.

Sesame Street: The American children's show that taught and entertained Filipino kids in the 80s.

Sesame was localized introducing Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing

I guess that demonstrates capitalistic apathy to children.  I did not have this understanding of the situation when I was kid. But I missed Kiko Matsing and Pong Pagong. All that remain of them is memory of their classic friendship. People my age now, can still recall the vivid images of those two adorable and amusing characters. But because they are owned by Sesame Workshop, and probably the fees to use them are exhorbitant, we have to lose two cultural and media icons in Philippine television.

Pong and Kiko found a home under the local sun in Batibot with Ate Shena and Kuya Bodjie and others.

 

If we think about Kiko and Pong now, they are just probably rutting in the storage rooms (as mascots). As animated icons of the show, the new generations may never see them again. What is the use for them any way in other children’s shows? Can the Sesame Workshop (formerly CTVN) show them in their international shows? That I would contest, for the names of these figures are culturally ours. Should culture then be patented like mascots, for us to have claim of them. The pagong and the matsing are not they taken from Jose Rizal’s fable? 

Where have they gone?

The issue is beyond licensing, franchising and intellectual property. The issue to keep Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing locked up in stock rooms, because of licensing concerns, is a moral dispute rather than economical or legalistic. I say it’s a moral issue, because the foundation keeps the Filipino Children from the right to enjoy their childhood. It is a moral issue because the foundation has taken away from this country a culturally valued artifact. Yes, it is true that the foundation brought them to life, but it is in Philippines that they have gained that life.

If Kiko Matsing and Pong Pagong, which speaks Filipino and personifies Flipino values, could speak on their own, I am pretty sure they would say “take us home to the Filipino Kid’s hearts”.

After knowing that Batibot is coming back via ABC 5 every Saturdays at 8:30 AM starting November 27, and thinking of what’s preventing Kiko and Pong to be in Batibot, I felt so guilty. I felt so guilty that I patronize Sesame Workshop’s goods that are available in the Philippine Market. I felt guilty that I bought a nice Elmo shirt which would support the workshop. I felt guilty that I am supporting a foundation that has no genuine concern for children. The workshop owes the Filipino more than we owe them, and serving the children of the world is beyond economic gains.

The 21st century Batibot, on ABC5 Saturdays 8:30 AM

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Comments
  1. Immaculate Mangaron-Obordo says:

    Kiko Matsing and Pong Pagong are my favorite characters (of course!) in Batibot and it is really sad to know that they wouldn’t be part of the show anymore… I would love my kid to know them as I’ve known them… I can still remember all the good values they taught, the use of po and opo when talking to adults, the opening song, the word “iskargu” (isda, karne at gulay)… Wish my son could enjoy childhood the Batibot way.

    I agree with you that Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing are way different from the Sesame Street characters because they are very Filipino. I don’t think they would appeal to American kids, might as well donate the characters to Filipino kids who would surely appreciate the lovable icons instead of letting them rut in a storage room.

  2. rod rivera says:

    I guess we should be rolling a campaign for the Sesame Works Foundation to donate Kiko and Pong for the Filipino Kids. I’m having goosebumps as I reply to you knowing that you share my sentiment.

    I love the ISKARGU too. Now that I’m an adult I still request my mom, to alter the menu by having these.

    • Immaculate Mangaron-Obordo says:

      Yes I do agree with your sentiments, I posted the link already to my facebook account… Hope that all those who care for our beloved Batibot characters support us on this one.

  3. rod rivera says:

    Share this link if you think we should have Kiko and Pong back in Batibot, their home for the Filipino kids. Paste the link on your facebook accounts and email it to your Filipino friends.

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