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KID FIT
Reinventing ‘Batibot’ for today’s children

By Marinel Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:45:00 11/27/2010

Filed Under: Television, Entertainment (general), Education, Children

MANILA, Philippines??Batibot? is back?and ready to adapt to the times.

The well-loved children?s educational TV program returned to the airwaves yesterday, after signing off for more than a decade.

The show, a co-production between TV5 and the Philippine Children?s Television Foundation Inc., will introduce the latest approach in storytelling that is sensitive to the changing landscape, said executive producer Feny de los Angeles-Bautista.

?Its comeback is attuned to the needs, interests and learning styles of the present generation,? said Bautista who plays Teacher Feny in the show.

The show also features Ningning and Gingging, the sister muppets who discuss relationships; Manang Bola, the fortuneteller who relies on her ?perlas na bilog? for answers to children?s questions; and Kapitan Basa, who guides children at the start of their journey as readers.

But Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing are no longer on board due to contractual constraints, since the two were originally part of ?Sesame!??a co-production venture between PCTF and the United States-based Children?s Television Workshop (CTW)?the precursor of ?Batibot.?

Bautista pointed out that all the characters which were created during that co-production belongs to CTW.

But Kuya Bodgie and Ate Sienna have been asked to appear as visiting characters.

?We?ve already taped their segments,? said Bautista. ?The new crew members, who grew up watching ?Batibot,? were star-struck. I teased Bodgie about making the letters in the idiot board bigger kasi malabo na ang mata niya.?

As for casting child celebrities, Bautista said that the policy has always been to show real children: ?We?re not show biz. Fortunately for ?Batibot,? stars also want to join the cast. There will be room for that. We already shot a segment with Tuesday Vargas. She?s a ?Batibot? fan. She came through very well.?

Bautista added that new characters Kaki and Abner will represent the adults in children?s lives. ?Learning from the experience of Sienna and Bodgie, we told Kaki and Abner that we will give them screen names so they can have a life outside ?Batibot.? They can still build their careers outside of the show. ?Di lang sila pwede mag-bold.?

Asked about the show?s main focus for its new season, Bautista said that ?Filipino as a language is lost on our children. They?re having a hard time speaking Filipino. Most kids even fail Filipino as a subject in school, because it?s more difficult than the day-to-day Taglish that we speak. This is so sad.?

She explained that, as executive producer, she had the show?s scriptwriters use ?lower level? Filipino compared to the language used in the old ?Batibot.?

Bautista said she?s ?hopeful that the show will be a bridge to improve language learning among children. We will try our best.?

Will the show touch on politics as well?

?Politics in its generic sense is part of children?s lives,? said Bautista. ?We give double-level segments with reference to politics. This is something not intended for kids but for the adults who may be watching. We once tackled democracy. When the Edsa Revolution happened, the people running PTV 4 called us and said, ?No one is explaining to the kids what?s happening.? So we made a story about the people choosing to send away their old leader because he wasn?t being fair ? We try to help kids understand things in ways that are relevant.?

?Batibot? airs every Saturday, 8:30 to 9 a.m.; it also has daily five-minute educational shorts.

E-mail mcruz@inquirer.com.ph



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