Sunday, October 7, 2012

Before American Idol, There Was Bagong Kampeon

Pilita Corales and the late Bert "Tawa" Marcelo hosted Bagong Kampeon

Pilita Corales and the late Bert “Tawa” Marcelo hosted Bagong Kampeon

Before American Idol developed an allergy on giving criticisms that help their contestants actually become better singers and made a creed to always uphold the oath of contestant ass-kissin’, the show actually kicked serious asses in the reality show genre.
Try as they might, X-Factor, The Voice, and whatever other reality talent shows critics might sing hallelujahs to, they were simply followers to the golden footprints that AI left. Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson were like drugs, they can fuckin’ cook your brain till you lose all useful functions of your limbs but you can’t stay away from them. They were products forged from the deepest recesses of Lucifer’s dungeon of shit and cooked in the darkest side of Mordor but no one can stay away from them.
But before American Idol, there was Bagong Kampeon and Tawag ng Tanghalan.
Note: Since no one bothered to document major milestones of Philippine Television before the internet was invented, my knowledge about Tawag ng Tanghalan is limited to the fact that it existed and the format is the same as Bagong Kampeon. So, I’ll just concentrate on Bagong Kampeon.
Before Ryan Seacrest, there were Pilita Corales and the late Bert “Tawa” Marcelo. They were the ones who announced every week whether the Dating Kampeon continues to reign or it’s the Bagong Kampeon who is taking the cake.
The judges, unlike AI, rotated. Some of them were composers, others were talent managers, and a few who were actual successful performers.
The show had a kiddie division (I’m not sure what it was called) which produced several singers that might be familiar to you, Donna Cruz, Geneva Cruz, and this girl that made her rounds on different late night show in the US, Josephine “Banig” Roberto.
They had an adult division that produced champions like Regine Velazquez.
Yeah, none of those actually made it to Hollywood but I couldn’t care less. The fuckin’ point is that champions of Bagong Kampeon had actual singing careers that lasted more than a year. None of the winners were particularly beautiful people. All the winners had going for them was their talents. That’s more than what you can fuckin’ say about AI.
This may be credited, in part, to Bagong Kampeon. Like AI, judges were given the mic so they can give the contestants some feedback on their performance. But, instead of beating the contestants for being “pitchy” (fuck knows what that means) or for giving “awful” and “horrendous” performance or for being “not special”, Bagong Kampeon judges did something totally unthinkable- they gave constructive criticism.
Yeah, I know… it’s like discovering that Santa Clause is real, Phoenix is an actual animal, and Kris Aquino is really just pretending she can’t act.
Geneva Cruz is a a product of Bagong Kampeon
Geneva Cruz is a a product of Bagong Kampeon
Bagong Kampeon judges would actually say what part of the performance worked, what part didn’t, what part they can improve on, and whatever else they can add to improve their chances in the next week. Now, what they say is really important because, unlike AI, Bagong Kampeon’s winner is chosen by the judges.
Now, before you start lambasting the show for not giving the audience, the actual people who is responsible for keeping the show on air, a voice on who should win, do know that the show existed in the 80s. At the time, PLDT took 15 years to connect phone lines. There is no typographical error in there. It really took PLDT 15 years to approve phone applications and make actual connections. I am not exactly sure what the deal was of PLDT. They were probably getting their supplies from the seventh level of Hades’ kingdom or something. So, phone and text votes were out of the question.
Bagong Kampeon also didn’t eliminate contestants. The elimination thing didn’t really go down with the producers. Instead, they added to the list of champions. Everyweek, a winner is declared. The winner will go on to compete on the next week for more money. Every week there is a new challenger. If the old winner goes on to win for more than 11 weeks, he or she automatically qualifies to the grand finals but will continue to compete until he or she loses.
If you didn’t understand that, fuck it. I’m not going to paraphrase it.
What I want to concentrate on is what really makes the show badass. It’s highly ridiculous to claim that Bagong Kampeon is the first of its kind. I don’t know the history of talent shows in this whole damn world but Bagong Kampeon sure fuckin’ did it before AI did. As far as I’m concerned, any show that, in its lifetime, managed to produce more than a dozen singers who can actually sing without having to degrade, insult, and make a fuckin’ circus out of conestant’s flaws make me believe in one fundamental truth, it’s badass.
Josephin "Banig" Roberto won Star Search, beating Christina Aguillera
Josephine “Banig” Roberto won Star Search, beating Christina Aguillera
From a creative point of view, you have to be down with the fact that Bagong Kampeon is ahead of its time. I mean, this was the early 80s. Technologically, the Philippines in the 80s was like the U.S. in the 1800. Artistically, the entire country was fascinated with celebrities who were making a name out of copying Hollywood celebrities like Michael Jackson. Out of all the sea of shits, there is one show who told the rest of the world to ram down their asses down their throats because they are not about to give a fine fuck about whether someone has the star potential or other marketing shit like that because they have a show that was created for one purpose and one purpose alone, to find people who can sing and should be appreciated for nothing else but their voice.
And boy did they.


  1. Before Bagong Kampeon or Tanghalan ng Kampeon, there was Tawag ng Tanghalan in the 1950's, 60's and 70's that produced talented singers like Pepe Pimentel, Deomides Maturan, Rick Manrique, Jr., Superstar Nora Aunor, etc.

  2. Cool, very cool written post. I really liked. It was interesting to read it, was such a small excursion into the past)
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