Thursday, August 4, 2005

And It All Ads Up

I can hardly find any valid reason for LTO to grant a plate or whatever permit it is that will allow roving billboards to rove. As far as I am concerned, they are a nuisance. First they mock our streets. Sending off ads stuck at the back of a truck to major thoroughfares is like saying, “Abandon hope all ye drivers. Exposing yourselves to traffic is like crucifying yourselves among the billboards along Guadalupe!”

Second, our streets are already congested as it is; we need not add elements that will clog them further. From a pragmatist’s point-of-view, I’d say it would be better to give up these unstably slim vehicles than the 1995 models of Tamarraw FXs. The former bares a lighted ad; the latter carries people. Do the math.

Third, there’s a clean air act, right? Isn’t that about reducing pollution to the minimum level possible? Hello, people concerned, DENR, MMDA! Roving billboards have mufflers! Their purpose in our streets will never outweigh the carbon monoxide they emit.

Fourth, these vehicles use gasoline. We are told that it is a good thing to conserve energy. For all our sakes, let’s do the good thing.

Last, I don’t like them. Whoever came up with them might think of themselves as geniuses. I think otherwise. If they are as genius-like as they think they are, they would have opted to post their ads to the jeepneys of willing owners. That way they will still be doing the roving ad thing, still congesting the streets, still emitting poisonous gas, still consuming gasoline. However this time, they’d have a redeeming value—they would be giving operators of PUVs an extra source of cash. Yes, it has already been done but that’s where the genius’ challenge enters—to top what has already been done.

* * *

Due to a throbbing hemisphere in my brain, I was reduced to stay more than 24 hours at home. While serving my house arrest, I found solace in watching television—the non-cable television. While surfing through ten channels, I’ve come to the conclusion that Kuya Bodgie is haunting me.

His new McDonalds ad keeps on recurring; I can’t help but write about it. In the advertisement, Kuya Bodgie sports his old Batibot act and “teaches” what-seems-to-be-kids the numbers to dial when they are hungry. This, of course, is Mc Donald’s hotline. Later it is revealed that the kids Kuya Bodgie is talking to are not as young as we expect them to be. They are actually yuppies. At that point we are supposed to feel nostalgic realizing that the Batibot generation have already grown up, working to earn their living, paying to fill their stomachs, and hopefully, doing their share in making this world a better place.

The ad pinched my heart. It should. After all, I am a raw batang Batibot. When I was around three to five years old, my parents dragged me to Batibot auditions. It was not their fault. It was more of my Ate’s. She was the one with the star complex back then and pressed my parents into bringing her to the auditions. My parents thought they might as well make the most out of waiting in long lines and decided to bring me along. I recall singing and dancing in various parts of the same building which DepEd is presently occupying.

Then came the final moment. I vividly remember sitting at the foot of the Puno ng Batibot. It was a big tree without leaves, and it was made out of papier-mache. And I swear, there were a couple of empty San Miguel Beer bottles at its foot. What those bottles are doing there, I have know idea.

So there we were, aspiring batang Batibot, sitting, waiting for our turn on the spotlight. I meant that literally. When your turn came, you were supposed to stand up and enjoy the spotlight which was hardly possible because the light had a blinding effect; it hurt the cones and rods of my retina. The spotlight was more like the light at the end of the tunnel. After blinding you, you will hear an unknown voice but instead of it asking you what good you have been doing in your lifetime, it asks you, “Can you sing?” That was where Batibot and I lost each other. I thought, “What? After singing and dancing, ‘pag gising sa umaga, ako’y naghihilamos, tingnan nyo kung paanoooo…’ you’re asking me if I can sing?” I was probably in my smart ass mood so I replied a sarcastic, “no.”

Thus my being a raw batang Batibot. My sister made it by the way. It worked to my advantage though. I didn’t have to memorize scripts the way she had to just to go near the Batibot set or just to see Ate Sienna and Kuya Bodgie.

I really didn’t have to go through all troubles just to see Kuya Bodgie. Recently I spotted him riding the MRT. He was seated and was occasionally drifting off to sleep. Obviously, he is older than he used to be. He was carrying a humongous bag and was wearing a shirt with a Batibot design. He even looked a bit exhausted; I almost felt sorry for him. Then I began wondering what his life had been like after Batibot and after his short stint in an ABS-CBN telenovela. I wish he didn’t have a lot of dull moments; furthermore I wish him behind-the-spotlight bliss.

Kuya Bodgie really looked tired. Maybe he just got off the taping of that McDonalds ad or, then again, maybe a former batang Batibot just approached him to ask what those San Miguel beer bottles were doing in a children-friendly set.

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