From ‘Batibot’ to ‘Firefly’: Augie Rivera is championing children’s stories and sensitive issues

Mark Ernest Villeza - The Philippine Star
From �Batibot� to �Firefly�: Augie Rivera is championing children�s stories and sensitive issues
Augusto ‘Augie’ Rivera is a renowned kids’ storybook writer and scriptwriter. His foray into TV began with ‘Batibot,’ where he worked from 1992 to 1999. He recently collaborated with GMA Pictures on the storybook adaptation of the 2023 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Picture ‘Firefly.’ Photo shows Augie (left) giving ‘Firefly’ actor Dingdong Dantes a copy of the storybook.
Photo from Augie's Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — In the realm of children’s literature and television, few names shine as brightly as Augusto Rivera, known as Augie by his colleagues and readers.

Famous for his work as a kids’ storybook writer and scriptwriter, Augie’s journey from being part of the iconic children’s program “Batibot” to crafting compelling narratives on sensitive topics is nothing short of inspiring.

In an exclusive interview with The STAR, Augie delves into his career, inspirations, and commitment to empowering young minds.

His foray into TV began with “Batibot,” where he served from 1992 to 1999, before transitioning to freelance work.

Augie shared that, despite growing up with “Sesame Street,” he faced challenges in writing stories for “Batibot” as a newbie because he had to learn on the job.

“It was difficult because at that time there was no course in writing for children, and writing for children’s television. There was no such course or subject at the university so my training was on the job,” he said.

At the time, he wrote his first children’s storybook Ang Alamat ng Ampalaya in 1995, while he was still working with “Batibot.”

His talents caught the eye of TV network GMA, leading to the creation of “Art Angel” in 2004, where he served as head writer.

As he transitioned from “Batibot” to “Art Angel,” Augie’s storytelling prowess continued to captivate audiences, shaping the landscape of children’s programming in the country.

Reflecting on his roots, Augie credited “Batibot” for igniting his passion for children’s literature.

“I learned the respect for children because of ‘Batibot’,” he said.

Born out of a desire to promote Filipino culture and values, “Batibot” provided Augie with an invaluable platform to engage young viewers.

Drawing from his experiences on the show, he ventured into writing storybooks, aiming to create relatable characters and narratives that resonate with his target audience.

Augie’s dedication to research and understanding his audience shines through in his storytelling process.

Metro Manila Film Festival 2023 Best Picture ‘Firefly’ stars child actor Euwenn Mikael and Alessandra de Rossi.

Whether tackling dyslexia in Xilef or addressing sensitive topics like incest in Ang Lihim ni Leah, Rivera’s approach is anchored on empathy and education.

He said that his commitment to representing diverse experiences ensures that every child sees themselves reflected in his work, fostering empathy and understanding.

“If I have an opportunity to write about these sensitive topics, I believe, I do it because we have different childhoods, so all childhoods should be represented in what we do,” he said.

Beyond children’s literature, Augie’s willingness to confront taboo subjects has earned him international acclaim.

Ang Lihim ni Leah, a poignant exploration of incest and child abuse, has sparked vital conversations and empowered survivors to seek help.

Augie’s belief in the transformative power of storytelling drives him to tackle sensitive issues head-on, giving voice to the voiceless and challenging societal norms.

Looking ahead, the writer’s collaboration with GMA Pictures on the storybook adaptation of the 2023 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Picture “Firefly” promises to enchant audiences once again.

Augie shared that he utilized the characters of the firefly and butterfly, with the butterfly representing Alessandra de Rossi’s character and the firefly symbolizing the child played by Euwenn Mikael.

He approached the narrative like solving a jigsaw puzzle, ensuring that all scenes seamlessly fit together.

Augie pondered on the events preceding the presented scenes, creating a cohesive storyline. He likened his role to that of Dingdong Dantes’ character, envisioning a triumphant ending akin to winning an award.

According to him, the illustrations, which were featured in the movie, were also incorporated into the book.

The book, he shared is slated to release to the public later this month.

With his trademark blend of creativity and compassion, Augie continues to shape the future of children’s storytelling — one compelling narrative at a time.

Through his timeless tales and unwavering advocacy, he inspires his readers to embrace the power of storytelling to educate, empower, and uplift generations to come.

As he aptly put it, “If you believe in the message you want to convey, just write it. Write about it.”

And so, Augie continues to write, illuminating minds and touching hearts with every word penned.

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