The National Council for Children’s Television (NCCT) and Christian Broadcasting Network Asia (CBN Asia) inked on January 7, 2015 a memorandum of agreement to co-produce the full season of “Oyayi,” the first grantee of the National Endowment Fund for Children’s Television which NCCT administers.
It was pitched by writer Fernando Gonzales during NCCT’s search for children’s television program ideas in 2012. Shortly after being chosen by the search committee and Council Members from among some 15 entries, NCCT and CBN Asia co-produced its pilot episode that was completed in December 2013.
"Oyayi," or lullaby in the English, strives to instill environmental consciousness and cultural appreciation among Filipino children through topics relating to nature and community. Characters in the program are inspired by indigenous endangered species such as butanding (whale shark), pilandok (mouse deer), tarsier, and tamaraw, among others. “Oyayi” will go on air starting October 23, 2016 and will air every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on ABS-CBN.
Republic Act No. 8370 or the Children’s Television Act of 1997 created the National Endowment Fund for Children’s Television to develop and produce high-quality, culturally relevant, and developmentally-appropriate television programs specifically created for the Filipino children.
We visited the Oyayi cast during its first mall tour at Robinson Forum in Mandaluyong and was given the opportunity to personally interview the lead cast, as well as take videos of the program dedicated to the kids attending teh event. You can watch all of them at our official YouTube channel.
Oyayi features six remarkable main characters. Kuya Maki, played by Frederico "Icko" Gonzalez, is the wise and cool leader of the team. Tama Raw is the very industrious Tamaraw. Bon Haribon is the valiant Philippine Eagle. Diva Butanding is the stylish Whale Shark. Tarsiera is the lovable Tarsier. Dok Pil is the brainy mouse-deer.
Icko was also the former "Kuya Bok" of Sineskwela, but even before the children's shows, he is active in theater plays and Project Head of the new Superbook episodes aired in the Philippines. He was also part of the boys group "Boys Will Be Boys." He is also an in-demand writer/director for different trade events and and active member of his church and the 700 Club Asia.
The story revolves around Isla Oyayi where the group of endangered species live. They will encounter several issues and challenges that will test their strength, their knowledge, and their friendship. They will try to win against the villain Kuwago Zhibago (played by Ruther Urquia), a robotic owl and his three sidekicks, the Tornilyons.
Ruther is a very popular puppet master, magician and ventriloquist here in the Philippines. He was well-known when he competed at the Pilipinas Got Talent Season 1 show where he emerged as a grand finalist. He was already playing with puppets at an early age of 12 and was also the youngest Boyoyong clown at age 17. Needless to say, he is the best person to be part of a children's show where the primary characters are puppets and mascots.
There's also the character that looks like a man with a head shaped like a television. Tele Bobby was very vibrantly active during the mall tour program as he initially stirred up the interest of the kids for the Oyayi casts after the special appearance of Gizmo of the Superbook animated show.
The Oyayi cast also led the children in dancing, and singing, the official jingle of the new children's show. You can watch the video, sing and dance along, at our official YouTube channel.
CBN Asia was also the one responsible for giving us the new version of Superbook and its Tagalog language version. Now they bring us Oyayi to further inculcate to the younger kids both learning and values that are rarely seen at the new animated TV shows of today. We also need our very own children's show that's proudly Filipino because who could educate our children better but the Filipinos themselves.
Aiming to reach the younger audience ranging from 7 to 12 years old, “Oyayi” will be that fun-filled world of adventure for the kids as well as the young at heart. Each episode will impart values and distinctive lessons concerning love for nature, family, arts, and culture.
From our interview with Icko, he said that aside from integrating topics that deals with our kids' fascination with gadgets, they may also touch on sensitive topics like drugs and other issues to elevate the knowledge of children with regards to current events. I hope they also teach on topics such as Martial Law to enlighten the youth on our history since most of our children are unaware of our past. I believe it is important that they learn more about our past so they would never repeat our mistakes.
Please do watch our exclusive video interview with the lead casts to learn more about Oyayi.