Anak TV Seal Column 2007
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(Released on December 31, 2007)

What do Lastikman, Pedro Penduko, Kamandag, Sugo, Mulawin, Captain Barbell, Super Inggo, Kokey and Zaido have in common?

These TV programs, commonly billed by their home networks as telefantasyas, feature men in the lead. They follow the mold of Marvel’s Superheroes and the success of Superman, Batman, Spiderman and a lot more, each one bandying a male lead. If women are ever used in these hits, they are either love interests or damsels in distress that need to be rescued.

Strangely, local content creators are following the lead of Hollywood in producing materials aimed at young audiences. Besides perhaps Super Twins, most of the serials fit for or geared towards kids are topbilled by men.

On the other hand, the telenovelas, those mawkish creations that hit primetime, are often for and about women embroiled in the most sensitive situations ruled by fate or crafted by accident: Marimar, Mga Mata ni Anghelita, Ysabella, Pangarap na Bituin and Bakekang. The only telefantasyas for and about girls are Princess Sara (which is typically a telenovela) and Time for Miya (but then it’s the cat that is the female lead).

Imagine Pinoy kids hooked on TV and shaping their perception of roles on the basis of what they see on television!? Little girls may grow up thinking that only the boys will dominate because only they have the power to combat evil. Maybe the congresswomen and lady senators with a moist eye on the presidency should put their pedicured feet down on this trend.

We doff our hats to the producers of Anak TV winners Sirit, Art Angel, Sineskwela, Hirayamanawari and non-winners Kids on Q and Goin’ Bulilit for at least ensuring that there is equal representation of male and female characters.

In 2004, when Academy Award actress Geena Davis was watching TV with her small daughter, she noted an unusual imbalance in the ratio of male to female characters. That triggered her to finance research on gender in children's entertainment. The yield thus far has been four discreet studies, including one on children's television.

Davis ’ research showed that among the top-grossing G-rated films in the fifteen years from 1990-2005, there were three male characters for every one female. It was a lopsided statistic that did not improve over time. The concern is shared by child development experts: what message does this send to young children?

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media was established after the landmark research. The Institute's first focus is a program that works collaboratively with the entertainment industry to dramatically increase the presence of female characters in media aimed at children and to reduce gender stereotyping. Many media products peddle the idea that men are strong and dynamic; girls are soft and often a victim.

Davis says, "Girls need to see – from the beginning -- that our culture values them as much as boys. The absence of girls in kids' entertainment affects kids."

At the end of January 2008, Davis will convene what she envisions as annual event, the Gender in Media Conference. There will be forums on media, children and gender. Many sessions are open to the public but the focused invitees include content-creators, film schools, critics, communications professionals, guilds, film and TV societies, nonprofit groups and students of media.

Our fervent wish for the coming year is that there will be more responsibly crafted TV programs for kids, more funding for child-safe TV and a better representation of either gender on television.

 

 

(Released on December 23, 2007)

If there are well-liked and admired personalities, there must be a list of detested and abhorred ones too? Thus asked a naughty colleague from the print industry. “One can tell a nation’s TV audience maturity and taste level by the shows and people it loves and conversely, by the programs and personalities it shuns,” he explains.

Without spilling the beans, we described the top five most disliked male and female personalities on TV as elected by the national Anak TV jury, all 2,000 strong.

The least liked females were led by TV’s peddlers of gossip; one a known magician of filmfest results and fabricator of stories about a matinee idol’s gender; the other her counterpart in the competitor station who ironically uses her uncommon command of the vernacular in poking a finger in other people’s lives.

One would think that the most visible female face on local TV, endorser of a slew of products and daughter of one of the most revered personalities in the world, would actually land a slot in the Top Ten Most Liked or Admired. Alas, her affectations have not been overlooked by a smart jury that saw through her apparent insincerity and scathing onscreen candor.

In the male department, the notorious winners last year still lord it over. One is the poor man’s hero because of the prizes he awards to any contestant who can make the most fool of himself or recount the most saccharine tragedy that can befall any Pinoy.

His runner up is his own foe and counterpart in the other station, whose charming and quick wit is often overtaken by his risqué jokes and double edged language. Trailing the duo is one of local showbiz’s Adonises who fell from fans’ grace when he began showing nasty behavior in sports meets and in political talkshows.

Completing the magic five in the female category are two comediennes with exaggerated mammaries: one a former bar singer who began her TV career as a consistent winner in a weekly singing stint; the other a velvety smooth doyenne of comedy flicks and sitcoms who runs a travel agency. Both girls have had basketball players as ex-beaus.

The male circle of five is rounded off by a rather educated boy-from-the-barrio-made-good whose lack in telegenic features he successfully makes up for in eloquence and sense. He is joined by a former mayor who has sired a number of kids with an almost equal number of women, one of the more celebrated being the TV personality cited in the female department above.

Of the program offerings, among the shows that made the top ten most disliked by the jury were Wowowee, Eat Bulaga, The Buzz, Pinoy Big Brother, Lupin, Goin Bulilit, Asian Treasures, Nuts Entertainment, Star Talk and Kokey.

The ratings may say otherwise but are those shows a match to the country’s most loved programs like TV Patrol, Pilipinas,Game Ka na Ba, 24 Oras, Wish Ko Lang, Rated K, Maalaala Mo Kaya, Imbestigador, Maging Sino Ka Man, Art Angel and Deal or No Deal?

Meanwhile, as the year tapers off, it is opportune to thank all the well meaning fellows and entities who rode with us astride the horse of this advocacy. Many of them will remain nameless for they are legion. Those who bolstered the cause through their support in a variety of forms deserve mention: Mikee Cojuangco Jaworski and Girlie Rodis; Elvira Go and her media mafia; MTRCB Chair Marissa Laguardia; Jun Tagud and the Negros Navigation team; Maurice Ligot of Splash; Mari Hautea of Hallmark; the amiable couple Bob and Edith del Rosario of the twin networks in capitol hills; Peter Tiu of Gawad Kalinga; Sirit’s Espie Garcellano and Art Angel’s Augie Rivera and two men whose hard earned salaries have actually propelled the foundation in its day to day existence: Richie and Gelmar.

 

 

(Released on December 17, 2007)

The annual Anak TV Seal awards were held in typical fashion last week. It was, as tradition dictated, held in the morning in keeping with children’s TV hours, at the unofficial home of the awards, the unassuming Soka Gakkai Building on Timog Avenue, straddling the giant networks ABS-CBN and GMA Network. There were only two speeches, each running under 3 minutes. Stars who went up to claim their honors were allowed only a minute on the mic. Like clockwork, it was all over in about two hours.

Unlike the more glitzy show biz awards, there was no red carpet, there were no dolled up stars and men in tuxedoes. Everyone was as casual as egg sandwich and coffee.

The event recognized the true heroes on the local boobtube, shows and personalities who, by shunning sensationalism and gimmickry, are able to offer unadulterated entertainment. Such sincerity is paid back by audiences with well-deserved adulation.

A national survey preceded the awarding. Thousands of mature audiences from every corner of the land were polled. They were asked who among television’s hundreds of denizens they thought were worth the emulation and respect of their households, particularly their kids. The top of mind survey yielded an enormous number of names: from preacher Eli Soriano and award-winning actress Gina Pareno to long gone child star Julie Vega to opposition spokesman Adel Tamano.

The names in the winning circle were practically the same as last year and the previous one. Consistent winners are Korina Sanchez and Julius Babao (who both topped the polls this year), Mel Tiangco and Mike Enriquez, Gary Valenciano, Sarah Geronimo, Sharon Cuneta, Bernadette Sembrano, TinTin Bersola, who gave a remarkable showing despite her being in hiatus since July, Arnold Clavio, Aga Muhlach, Piolo Pascual, Sam Milby, Karen Davila.

Newcomers to the circle this year were Edu Manzano, Angel Locsin, John Lloyd Cruz, Toni Gonzaga, Ted Failon and Jessica Soho.

The most touching acknowledgement speeches were again those given by Gary V and Mike E. Gary is a frequent topnotcher in the race who sees his being singled out as Anak TV winner as a constant monition to always be prudent. Mike E, childless but happily married, considers the award as his most significant because it is the people who gave it to him. His Anak TV citation adorns his door at GMA Network to remind him of his responsibility as broadcaster. “This award tells us that we are indeed being watched, and children are among our viewers.”

 

 

(Release on December 10, 2007)

Yesterday was International Children’s Day of Broadcasting. To support it, the Senate and Lower House passed in 1997 a law that mandates the national observance of the said day.

Republic Act 8296, signed into law by then President Fidel Ramos, orders all radio and TV stations in the country to allocate a minimum of three hours’ airtime for programs exclusively for, on or about children and produced especially in observance of the National Children’s Broadcasting Day. It also mandates that one hour shall be on prime time.

The law was specific. It tasked the KBP and the Philippine Information Agency to monitor programs in observance of the day.

Save for a few attempts by some responsible TV stations to heed the tenet of the law, the day went by uneventful. Just like the past decade since the law’s passage. Such is the fate of many laws of the land: glowing in intention, glorious in mandate but sorely lacking in execution and monitoring.

But on a brighter note, we felicitate with several new programs that made it into the Anak TV circle. Last year’s harvest yielded 87 winners, this year we are honoring 94.

Among the new batch of winners are Chuy, Okiddo, Northern Catch and Salam, three unheralded programs of ABS-CBN’s regional stations but which clicked with the national jurors for their child-safe content. The kapamilya station is bringing home 14 awards. Sister station Studio 23 wins ten awards, among them, Badminton Extreme, Sports TV and Y Speak.

NBN has a gaggle of programs with an obvious government slant but the key criterion is if the programs are family-friendly, not if they are politically savory or not. It won 14, its biggest harvest to date. Meanwhile, IBC‘s Mommy Academy and Ating Alamin are among the six programs granted the seal.

ABC‘s blocktimer programs Once Upon a Saint, Light Talk and Kerygma TV made it this time. So did 10 others besides them. SBN lost Buhay Pinoy to RPN but is taking home a single seal for Oras ng Himala.

GMA Network’s Kakasa Ka Ba sa Grade 5 made it; so did Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho. Its total seal haul this year is seven. It is gratifying to note that Art Angel and Wish Ko Lang were also singled out as among the nation’s top ten favorite and most admired TV shows. Kapuso’s sister station, QTV‘s Balitanghali made it along with Mga Waging Kuwento ng OFW, among 10 others from the station.

RPN‘s Parenting 101, Kapatid and Pinokyo made it this time among the station’s 10 winners. Only Game Plan was deemed by jurors as befitting of an Anak TV seal among the many burly and rough and tumble Pare Ko offerings.(Because its signal is the strongest, One Morning was monitored and adjudged on RPN, hence it is credited with the seal, shared with simulcast partners IBC and NBN.)

Net 25 takes home eight seals this year; among them new winners Gabay sa Kalusugan, Kapatid sa Hanapbuhay and Drive It.

(next week: the nation’s most admired TV personalities)

(Released on December 3, 2007)

In India, it was easy to convince cultural agents Vinay and Meenakshi Rai to convene a forum by, for and about children around the hot topics of video, film and television. In their years of work in tri-media, the Rai couple engaged the free services of one of the most ideal and critically astute partners that one can employ: their daughter.

Shruti is all of nine years old, with genes of intelligence obviously acquired from her parents. The Indian girl has shown early signs of leadership qualities, gathering new acquaintances in Johannesburg to sell trinkets and conference stuff, even helping man an international festival secretariat in Tokyo. In school, she is atypical because of her extensive travels and experiences. Even her school teachers are awed by Shruti’s profundity and prodigious talent. She not only draws but can handle videocams like a pro. She can edit with a keen eye. She has stage managed events and hosted programs, the most recent being a series of forums for children. Shruti oftentimes does all these with minimal adult coaching and coaxing. Yet she is not your run of the mill type of young celebrity. Vinay and Meenakshi have seen to that.

Recently, little Shruti surprised her parents when she emailed the president of India. Shruti wrote Madame Pratibha Patil, India’s first elected woman president, about the forum she wanted to stage, an effort to mount a corollary counterpart to the adult event her parents were preparing called Chinh India. The New Delhi gradeschooler thought that if her parents were anxious about the way television was affecting children her age, she and her peers should in turn tell the adults the way it is.

She then surprised the entire Indian nation when the president replied! She and her small gang of like-minded gradeschoolers were invited for an audience recently at the Indian President’s Residence called Rashtrapati Bhawan.

It was expectedly a rough and tumble day for security as the highly charged group broke protocol, asking questions only kids can conjure: Were you scolded as a child, to which the amiable lady chief executive replied with “yes, for not coming to school on time!” Shruti was curious how the president’s day looked like. The leader gamely described a typical day full of meetings, functions and speeches. Irrepressible Shruti gushed that it must be boring. The smart gradeschooler then half-mandated the president to attend their Chinh Children’s Forum on December 9 to 11. Tall order indeed from a nine year old to a head of government!

Kids indeed say it like it is. Many of them nonchalantly questioned why the snacks served them in the stately Ashoka Hall were mediocre compared to what they got in a simple forum elsewhere that day. To which a parent exclaimed that it could be that kids are not important in government affairs, an observation shared by hundreds of millions of parents across continents. We were told by our informant who was with the visiting children that the extremely paranoid security detachment confiscated autograph books and the greeting cards prepared by the kids for presentation to the leader. No one was allowed to take pictures either. Sensing the distress among her kid guests, Madame Patil asked for an official group photo with the juveniles, an order greeted with glee and shrieks. As they huddled for the momentous shot, the kids managed to nag her about showing up at their all-important forum.

If the Indian president, who finds time for dignitaries and wealthy businessmen, shows up in solidarity at the Chinh India Children’s Forum on the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting, she would not only have paid the kids of India a moral debt but would have also shown the rest of the world the stuff that a genuine leader is made of.

     

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