illustration by Jonel D. Mendoza
Kilala mo ba ang cartoon o muppet characters na gaya nina Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Cookie Monster, at Kermit the Frog? Ilan lang ang mga ’yan sa children’s characters na sumikat noong dekada ’70 at ’80. Hanggang ngayon, karamihan sa kanila ay kilala pa rin, di lamang ng mga gaya kong lumaki noong mga panahong iyon, kundi pati na rin ng kabataan ng kasalukuyang henerasyón. Ang children’s characters na tulad nila ay bahagi na ng tinatawag na Pop Art o Popular Culture, at sila ay nagsisilbi hindi lamang bilang libangan kundi bilang personipikasyón ng mga positibo at negatibong katangian ng tao.
Some Lessons I Need to Know I Learned from…
Sylvester and Tweety. Whatever scheme or trick Sylvester the Cat tried, he was never able to catch Tweety the Bird. Why? Perhaps because Tweety was good-natured and tiny but wise, contentedly spending his time in his cage or nest. On the other hand, because Sylvester’s intentions were never or rarely good, he never succeeded. Just like in real life: If one is good-natured, seldom will he have any adversary; if one is wise and humble, he can always learn from his failures; if one is easily contented with whatever blessings that come his way, greed and envy will never enter his heart. Conversely, if one’s intentions are always harmful and self-serving, he can never achieve true success and happiness.
Big Bird. Many children learned from Big Bird of Sesame Street that not knowing everything is okay, and that inquiring and asking questions about things that interest him is all right. Yes, we should never be ashamed if we lack knowledge about something, especially that lack of knowledge is easily remedied by reading, studying, and asking questions.
Ang kulturang Filipino ay meron ding kontribusyón sa larangan ng Cartoon at Muppet Art. Bagama’t impluwensya ng Sesame Street, ang Bata Batuta (‘70s) at Batibot (‘80s) ay dalawang programang pang-telebisyón na pinanggalingan ng mga sumusunod na karaktér.
Kiko Matsing. This monkey muppet was one of the popular characters of Batibot. In some classic fables, the monkey was usually depicted as tricky, devious, and untrustworthy; Batibot’s Kiko Matsing, however, was made to portray positive traits like gregariousness and sociability, inquisitiveness or intellectual curiosity, and confidence and assertiveness. “Daig ng bibo ang mahiyain. Mas mabuting maging pala-tanong kaysa madalas walang kibo. Mas madaling makilala ang batang taas-noo kaysa batang palaging nakayuko.”
Pong Pagong. The other popular muppet from Batibot, Pong Pagong was depicted as friendly, soft-spoken, respectful, and having the curious nature and innocence of a child. Again, this characterization is contrary to how some classic fables personified the turtle—slow, unwitty, clueless, and even dumb.
Alice Kamatis. Bata Batuta was a Filipino children’s program that became popular in the Philippines in the late ’70s, predating Sesame! (later became Batibot), which premiered in 1984. Alice Kamatis was one of Bata Batuta’s popular characters. Depicted as a plump little girl with the head of a tomato, the soft-spoken Alice Kamatis always carried a basket full of fruits and vegetables. She was helpful and friendly and always taught children about healthful and nutritious habits. “Aking mga kabata, hinay-hinay lang sa kendi, tsokolate, at iba pang tsitsirya. Mas kailangan ng katawan ang prutas, gulay, at iba pang pagkai’t inùming masusustansya.”
Kardong Kalabaw. Also from Bata Batuta, Kardong Kalabaw was the muppet depiction of the Philippine national mammal. He wore the traditional salakot and kamisa de tsino. As the personification of the carabao, Kardong Kalabaw taught about hard work, initiative, and cooperation. “Ang responsableng Filipino ay matulungin at masipag; hindi parating nakahilata sa papag at naghihintay lang ng tawag.”
Professor Tinik. Another memorable character from Bata Batuta, Prof. Tinik was the representation of the ideal teacher: approachable, humble, patient, intelligent and full of wisdom but never self-righteous and conceited, accepting of his own limitations but eager to learn and willing to learn from his mistakes and to impart his knowledge to others especially to children. A small version of the tree-creatures called Ents, from Professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Prof. Tinik had a tree trunk for its body and branches for its limbs. “Mga bata, bago makipaglaro sa mga kaibigan sa lansangan, tapusin muna ang inyong mga takdang aralin.”
Sa Madaling Salita
Hindi dapat maliitin o balewalain ang mga elemento ng Pop Art o Popular Culture na tulad ng music, fashion, films, at cartoons o muppet art. Lahat naman ng bagay ay may kaakibat na positibo at negatibong aspeto; sa bandang huli, nasa sa mga nakatatanda karaniwang nakasalalay kung paano mas maipaiintindi sa kabataan ang mga aral na maaaring matutunan sa mga ito.