Whether it’s a TV show or a literary work, the charisma of a fictional character is as important as the message it tries to impart. Just ask these 5 make-believe Filipino personalities who have left an indelible mark on the Filipino consciousness:
10. Polgas and Dagul.
Claim to fame: Dagul (Adagulfo Sungcal Jr.) and his humanoid pet dog Polgas are the central characters in “Pugad Baboy,” a satirical comic strip popularized by Pol Medina Jr. Since their first appearance in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, this ageless tandem has given us a humorous twist to Filipino pop culture, political controversies, and other social issues.
Areas of influence: Pugad Baboy is now the country’s longest-running comic strip, thanks to Polgas and Dagul who never lost their social relevance. Their popularity has spawned several books, a TV show, and various merchandise. They’re the quintessential satirical heroes who had brought variety to PDI until the comic strip’s controversial exit in June of 2013. Pugad Baboy is now rocking the social media, thanks to Rappler.com
Did you know? Like their creator Pol Medina Jr., both Polgas and Dagul wear earrings on their left ears. The title of the comic strip actually came from a real piggery in Bulacan. Historian Renato Constantino, on the other hand, claims that there was also a real Pugad Baboy in Caloocan at the time of the Philippine Revolution.
9. Kiko Matsing and Pong Pagong.
Claim to fame: From the mid-80s up to the early 90s, Batibot reigned as the local version of the iconic Sesame Street. Through this morning TV show, Kiko Matsing and Pong Pagong–both of whom are loosely based on Jose Rizal’s popular fable–were able to capture the hearts of young Filipinos and teach them essential values to boot.
Areas of influence: Before they headed to the playground and bought a cup of hot taho, Pinoy kids always started their day with Batibot. Generations of Filipinos will never forget Kiko Matsing’s husky voice, Pong Pagong’s slinky, bothersome neck, and all the main characters who made morning TV-watching even more worthwhile.
Did you know? Kiko Matsing and Pong Pagong are considered part of the Sesame Street Universe. Due to some copyright issues, these two media icons had to be pulled out from the local TV show, leading to their untimely disappearance.
8. Ang Panday (a.k.a. Flavio).
Claim to fame: Ang Panday (The Blacksmith) first appeared in comics in the 1970s. Created by Carlo J. Caparas, it is about the heroic story of Flavio who would turn into a powerful warrior once in possession of a magical sword. Since its inception, Ang Panday has been adapted both in television and numerous box-office films.
Areas of influence: It’s hard to remember the King of Philippine Movies without imagining him as the original Flavio. And the fact that it has spawned successful movie adaptations only proves that Ang Panday is one of the most well-loved, all-Filipino fictional heroes in recent memory.
Did you know? Aside from Fernando Poe Jr., several notable actors also portrayed the role with varying degrees of success. These include Bong Revilla Jr. (1993, 2009, and 2011) and Jinggoy Estrada (1998). A spoof was also made in 1998 with comedic actor Joey de Leon in the lead role.
7. Captain Barbell.
Claim to fame: Captain Barbell and his weaker alter-ego Tengteng rose to fame after they first appeared in Pinoy Komiks Magasin in 1963. It’s a story of an underdog who suddenly gained supernatural strength after lifting up a magical golden barbell. An original Mars Ravelo creation, Captain Barbell is the local version of the more dominating Captain America.
Areas of influence: Captain Barbell is the imaginary champion of the oppressed, neglected, and abused masses. And like Flavio, Captain Barbell has also dominated both TV and movies over the years. Actors such as Edu Manzano, Bong Revilla, and Richard Gutierrez each has enjoyed popularity by portraying the caped superhero.
Did you know? In 1964, the first Captain Barbell movie was released under FPJ’s very own D’Lanor Productions. It starred Bob Soler as Captain Barbell and Dolphy as its alter-ego, Tengteng.
6. Juan Tamad.
Claim to fame: Popularized through oral tradition, the story of Juan Tamad (Lazy John) is one of Philippine folklore‘s most eye-opening legacy. It’s a tale passed from generation to generation yet never fails to warn children of the bitter fruits of laziness.
Areas of influence: The picture of Juan Tamad sleeping under a guava tree with mouth agape made its way towards modern children’s books and Filipino pop culture. Today, Juan Tamad is used as a metaphor for procrastination and complacency. And although these characteristics aren’t entirely “Pinoy,” Juan Tamad continues to challenge us to break stereotypes and prove that Filipinos, indeed, are not indolent.
Did you know? Although its exact origin is hard to verify, Juan Tamad is said to have been derived from a 1919 book of poems entitled “Buhay na Pinagdaanan ni Juan Tamad na Anac ni Fabio at ni Sofia sa Caharian nang Portugal” (The Life lived by Juan Tamad, son of Fabio and Sofia, in the Kingdom of Portugal).