comedy, entertainment, humor, Philippines, television

1995 Flashback: Bubble Gang Turns 20

Michael V (center) has been the driving force behind ‘Bubble Gang’, now entering its 20th year on the air. (Photo credit: GMA Network/Bubble Gang Official Facebook)

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

GMA’s ‘Bubble Gang’ will have its 20th anniversary special next month.

The theme is still a mystery at the moment, but based on teasers from the show’s social media accounts, it appears that it will be a mostly formal occasion. The show’s current and past cast members will be on hand, as is a die-hard fan who will be invited on the said anniversary episode.

Indeed, ‘Bubble Gang’ has come a long way since premiering on October 20, 1995. Every Friday night, viewers were treated to the show’s assortment of parodies and skits that reference both pop culture and real-life situations, most of which end with the cast members showing disbelief in the most humorous way possible.

At the heart of ‘Bubble Gang”s longevity is Michael V. One of two original cast members left on the show (the other is Antonio Aquitania), Bitoy also acts as its creative director, formulating most of ‘Bubble Gang”s infamous skits and characters, not to mention composing and singing the opening theme song.

It was with ‘Bubble Gang’ where Michael V (real name Beethoven Bunagan) achieved his greatest success. Whether he’s Mr. Assimo, Tata Lino and Donya Ina, or even past characters such as Junee Lee, Yaya and Lito, Bitoy’s portrayals with these personas helped him become one of the most popular entertainers of his generation.

Bitoy even showcases his musical talent on the show, as part of his Myusik Tagalog Bersyon and Music English Version skits. One such song was ‘Sinaktan Mo ang Puso Ko’, which became a hit single.

But ‘Bubble Gang’ isn’t just about Michael V alone. Over the years, the show featured a revolving cast of talents, from Ogie Alcasid, Wendell Ramos, Maureen Larrazabal and Rufa Mae Quinto, to Boy 2 Quizon, Paolo Contis, Betong Sumaya and Chariz Solomon.

Even the skits evolve as well, just as trends in pop culture and everyday life were also in the midst of a transformation. Just ask the long-running ‘Ang Dating Doon’, which made some numerous changes during its run.

Despite the constant changes in both the skits and the cast members, one thing is still certain about ‘Bubble Gang’: they can still make people laugh. And after 20 years, they are still going strong.

Come this November, ‘Bubble Gang’ will have its 20th anniversary special. For long-time viewers of the show, it is a deserving tribute.

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comedy, entertainment, humor, Philippines, television

Tropa Moko Unli is Hot, and Bubble Gang is Not

After only two episodes ‘Tropa Moko Unli’ became a trending topic on Twitter, fueled by the revival of the ‘Battle of the Brainless’ skit.

They may have aired two episodes so far, but TV5’s newest gag show ‘Tropa Moko Unli’ is quickly becoming a hot trending topic in social media, not only in the Philippines, but also globally. So much so that it has the potential to put the long-running gag show ‘Bubble Gang‘ of GMA out of the airwaves, just like what that program did to the Kapatid network‘s original gag show ‘Tropang Trumpo‘.

It can be argued that Ogie Alcasid‘s decision to leave GMA and sign with TV5 was a blessing in disguise. After all, Alcasid spent 18 years as part of the ‘Bubble Gang’ cast after initially leaving ‘Tropang  Trumpo’ alongside buddy Michael V. However, Alcasid appears unsatisfied in playing the sidekick role, thus he moved over as a Kapatid talent and was tapped to be the ‘face’ and leader of the ‘Tropa Moko Unli’ gang. Alcasid was joined by fellow ‘Tropa’ Gelli de Belen, and by bringing in younger talent from the ‘Lokomoko‘ gag show, it unified both of TV5’s past and present gag shows into one, which became ‘Tropa Moko Unli’. And so far the union has been beneficial.

The strength of ‘Tropa Moko Unli’ lies on a carryover skit from the ‘Tropang Trumpo’ days. The decision to bring back the classic ‘Battle of the Brainless’ skit has been met with both critical and popular acclaim; the segment itself was also a social media hit. In addition, a parody of ‘The Ryzza Mae Show’, entitled ‘Lasa May Toyo’, also contributed to the show’s popularity. For tomorrow’s episode, Alcasid will play host to the ‘Show Show A All the Way’, a parody of ‘The Medyo Late Night Show’ starring Jojo Alejar.

While ‘Tropa Moko Unli’ is gaining momentum, ‘Bubble Gang’ is losing steam. GMA’s long-running gag show is suffering from the lack of interesting skits, the worst of the bunch happens to be Diego Llorico’s ‘Atlit’ segment which took out the more popular ‘Ba’t Ganun?’ skit. The retirement of ‘Boy Pick Up’ and other characters played by Ogie Alcasid also factored into the show’s loss of audience. While Michael V. tried to make things interesting with his ‘Tata Lino’ and ‘Mr. Assimo’ skits, it is apparent that ‘Bubble Gang’ is past its prime, and with its placement on the late night Friday slot opposite ABS-CBN and TV5’s newscasts, audiences seem more interested in watching the news than a gag show like ‘Bubble Gang’.

‘Bubble Gang’ needs to get out of its so-called ‘group of death’ if they want to extend the show’s proven longevity. A move to Saturday nights is a logical move; GMA can place the program in the more favorable 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. slot where the program once enjoyed its peak of popularity. And it should benefit the program, considering that ABS-CBN’s ‘Banana Split’ and the aforementioned ‘Tropa Moko Unli’ airs on Saturdays, thus giving ‘Bubble Gang’ some much-needed competition. The revival of the popular ‘Ba’t Ganun?’ and the creation of more interesting and relative characters is what the program desperately need.

With the popularity and social media trending that ‘Tropa Moko Unli’ has enjoyed so far, they may have the potential to oust ‘Bubble Gang’ as the most popular gag show in the Philippines. And they seem poised to do so, just as ‘Bubble Gang’ did with ‘Tropang Trumpo’ back in its heyday.

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