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Kokak, not Ribbit

When asked what the sound of the frog was, my five-year old godchild said it is "Ribbit, ribbit." I was dismayed, and told her it was "Kokak, kokak." She insisted that it was the former since that was what YouTube kids taught her in the past years. She even contested that the sound of the rooster is "cock-a-doodle-doo" instead of "tuk-toga-ok". Her mother tried to explain that the Philippine setting of animal sounds is quite different from the west, but she wouldn't listen. She insisted that her sphere of influence over the application's videos (which is mostly based in the United States) is right.

What shocked me more is that she does not know that the currency of the Philippines is peso. She always referred prices and things to buy with dollars. Her knowledge of vegetables are those that are not common in our country such as zucchini, capsicum, and the like. I'd like to teach her about the basics of Filipino agriculture through the song "Bahay Kubo", but I think she wouldn't like it either.

The way my godchild adapted to the things around her is a red flag that the media industry is not making enough good shows for children. In fact, I don't remember having an up-to-date show in any network that is for children. Instead, our weekend mornings are filled with cartoons from the west dubbed in Tagalog. Even worse, on cable networks the language used is English. Although it is a good foundation for the child to know the lingua franca, the context still is very western.

Growing up, I watched a lot of locally produced kids' shows that I couldn't forget. I was fascinated by the way these shows taught children basic subjects through television. It was like watching a Philippine Sesame Street, but it was more close and real to me because the shows were made in the Philippines. For some reason I don't see these shows today. It's either it is not a good business venture or that there is simply no interest in the target audience anymore.

Nothing beats learning with context of the society that you are in. Basing it from the west takes the child into a make-believe world. It is the burden of the parents to explain to him/her that we live in a different country where culture is different. The child will have to resist the reasons since the fascination of what was seen onscreen remains in them. I wonder how and when they will be fascinated by Filipino life.

It is a challenge now for the new breed of content providers to give us quality entertainment for kids. If I could have it my way, those shows that taught us basics should be in Filipino and the underlying objects should be the context of how we are today. If my godchild continues to be blind to the reality that what she believes in is not available in the country, she will grow up confused of her own identity as a Filipino. Then the cycle goes on; we simply do not know who we are.

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