Batibot & little kids in need of a boost
LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo () - March 7, 2012 - 12:00am

Anything that speaks of education or going to school has been almost anathema to the causes of educational TV. As the country’s premier educational TV series for children in the early years of childhood, Batibot has been battling this bias with little income-generating success. It is to the credit of TV5 that it recognizes the importance of this segment of society where character-building is molded that Batibot is now into its third season, Saturdays, at 8:30 to 9 a.m.

Parents of today most certainly remember the longest-running, much-awarded TV show in the ’80s, airing Mondays to Fridays from 9:30 to 10 a.m., which started from the US’ Children’s Television Workshop that brought Sesame Street to the country. It utilized humor, original Filipino music, stories and animation, journeyed from RPN to ABS-CBN to GMA then back to RPN until it ceased broadcasting in 1998. In 2010, with the opening of TV5, it ultimately found a new home.

We have assiduously been watching Batibot and appreciate the amount of work that goes into it, with Teacher Feny de los Angeles Bautista, child development expert from the original days of Sesame Street, continuing as executive producer. We recall one episode dealing with the EDSA Day celebration where an artwork combined drawing, live action and muppets beautifully. Children’s viewership has dramatically changed from the ’80s with competition from such youth-oriented channels as Nickelodeon and Disney plus Cartoon Network shows on TV5 itself like Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, Wonder Pets and Blue’s Clues.

The post-Sesame muppets have been revived led by Koko Kwik-Kwak, the bird inspired by the Philippine Eagle to symbolize a cleaner, greener world; the forgetful fortuneteller Manang Bola; Kapitan Basa, who answers children’s questions through his magic book; the inquisitive space aliens Sitsiritsit and AlibangBang; sisters Ningning and Gingging as inspired by Ernie and Bert of Sesame Street; and Tarsi, obviously after the wide-eyed Tarsier from the wild. Then we have humans Kuya Fidel (Abner Delina) and Ate Maya (Kakki Teodoro) who share stories, play games, teach creative crafts, while imparting lessons painlessly.

The staff of Batibot under Teacher Feny takes great pains to come up with a show that will make a difference. Batibot remains the only Filipino show based on an educational curriculum addressing all aspects of early childhood growth and development, specifically for children aged four to six years old. But we are afraid that even TV5 may not last long in its patronage. In our monitoring of its episodes, there is only one commercial aired, that of Yakult. This is worrisome. It is time for the marketing of Teacher Feny and TV5 to lock hands to solve this problem. We can see National Book Store as a sponsor since a lot of the books, lessons and crafts utilize their products.

TV5 has, in its short span on air, gathered some of the most famous of celebrities who could share a commercial or two. Jollibee which has stood by Aga Muhlach all these years; one of Megastar Sharon Cuneta’s many endorsements could pitch in; and other celebrities in their private capacities could also provide a boost. Volunteerism is alive in this country when storms and natural calamities strike. The early education of children needs volunteers to help. We don’t believe education is boring and not deserving of attention. Watch Batibot every Saturday and compare its homegrown animé, drawings, muppets and most of all, its original songs to other big-budgeted imports. We should do what we can to help our little children’s future. 

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