Title card for the GMA News TV infotainment show "I JUANder".

A few weeks ago, GMA News TV’s weekly infotainment program I JUANder tried to answer the question “Bakit Mahilig sa Cartoons si Juan?”, or “Why do Filipinos like to watch cartoons?” Although it may have had the best of intentions, the feature did not go well as planned.

Unfortunately, this has usually been the case for Philippine television networks trying to feature stories on anything related to Japanese Anime and the Pop-culture scene… or in GMA Network’s case, most of the time.


For the first part of this piece, we will discuss how I JUANder portrayed the show… but just to give a short description of I JUANder, it is an infotainment program, hosted by veteran journalist Susan Enriquez and journalist/filmmaker Cesar Apolinario, where it examine various aspects of Filipino culture and how people came to accept them as such.

The episode was aired last August 27 where it mostly centered on why Filipinos became fascinated with some of GMA’s popular anime titles such as Yu Yu Hakusho (promoted as Ghost Fighter), Slam Dunk and Dragon Ball, along with their more recent series like One Piece and Fairy Tail, and Western animation titles from Disney, Marvel and D.C. Comics.


The show started off with Susan & Cesar reminiscing their favorite shows, although we think that the two hosts had mixed some of the characters a bit… The time-traveller robot Doraemon was mistaken for the sphere-shaped alien Mojacko, where the latter was also mistaken as the popular Pokémon character Pikachu.

Seriously, Pikachu doesn’t say anything other than “Pika!” and “Pika-chu!”


It was then followed by a video montage featuring the network’s popular anime titles, but what grabbed our attention was the narration. It says that despite some of their titles were aired repeatedly, it is still being watched by a lot of people.

Could it be an admission from the network that they are merely relying on reruns of their “tried & tested” anime titles, much to the chagrin of some anime fans?

GMA-7 also missed opportunity to promote the 2011 version of Hunter × Hunter, which premiered on the network the very next week, but it seems TV networks in this country are not used to do cross-promotion across channels. Oh well.


Then they moved on to feature Voltes V, which is undeniably the most iconic animated series in the Philippines. The hosts had given a short synopsis and some character profile, then introduced Jerry Santos, an avid Voltes V fan and collector.

In a way, we could understand why they profiled such an individual, because it takes time & a lot of devotion to the anime series to collect such vast amount of toys, figures, and other collectibles. That is not an obsession, but simply the natural progression from being a mere “fan”.


As expected, they also mentioned the story of the deposed Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos declaring a ban on airing Voltes V and other programs, the official reason being that they were too violent for younger audiences.

However, a more sinister speculation was being circulated Anti-Marcos activists at the time, alleging that the real reason for the ban was the show’s parallelisms to the Marcos dictatorship and the how characters overthrow their rules.

They also talked to a “Philippine Studies Expert” from the University of the Philippines – Diliman.

This alleged story had spread through various websites throughout the years, and currently on social media. Democratic-socialist group Akbayan Citizen’s Action Party (commonly known as Akbayan Partylist) use the image below as a part of their Martial Law commemoration.

Political party Akbayan Partylist's Martial Law remembrance campaign featuring the anime Voltes V. (Photo from Akbayan Partylist's Facebook page)
Partylist group Akbayan’s Martial Law remembrance campaign featuring the anime Voltes V.
(Photo from Akbayan Partylist’s Facebook page)

We will delve into this issue further in the near future, but what we can tell you right now is that the alleged story is not true… especially that Voltes V is not the only one that got the ban-hammer from the regime.


The show also featured the prominent voice talent and the self-proclaimed “Voicemaster” Pocholo Gonzales, where the two hosts was given a crash-course on voice acting… Sadly, that part of the show became more of a comic-relief.

We know that Mr. Gonzales is a good dubbing director, voiced in several advertisements, and has four (4) radio shows under his “Voice of the Youth” network, but here is a question… Is he qualified enough to answer the question posted by the program?

It is a fact that he can do several voices… but did he actually voiced characters from a well-known anime series, especially from GMA Network? And also, Is he involved in any of dubbing projects aired on the channel?

We think that it was a good idea to talk to someone who is prominent to the voice acting industry, but instead of bragging their accomplishments and how many people they taught, why not ask something that is relevant to the topic?

As some people may know, Japanese anime was aired in the Philippines in English dubbing from the 70’s until early 90’s, but then the shows was dubbed in Filipino during the 90’s. Whether or not Filipino dubbing affected the overall popularity of animated shows in the Philippines remains a mystery, and should had been one of the main points that the program etched on.


The show also talked about Pinoy Animation. We definitely want to support the country’s animation industry, considering that several of our countrymen had worked on animation studios like Marvel, D.C. Comics & Pixar Studios, and Toei Animation also outsource most of their work in the county. but we feel the people behind the show have not delved on the topic enough.

We agree that parents have significant influence in picking the shows young kids would watch, but there are also several factors why children are not interested in watching animated programs produced by Pinoy animators.

For example… Is the animated show well-made, but at the same, something unique? Will the theme of the show piqued someone’s interest, or simply another cliché? Will the overall feel of the show be something fun, or borderline educational?


On the closing segment of the show, the hosts tried to to sum up its answer to the question “Bakit Mahilig sa Cartoons si Juan?”, but in our opinion it may have fallen our expectations.

The answer is filled with clichés, which makes you wonder why do they bother making this feature at all.

If the program has been patterned to the PBS documentary “Superheroes: A Never-ending Battle”, which was recently aired on 9TV, it may give some more credibility.


But to sum it up, their answer to the posted question is simply…


On the second part of this post, we talk about how GMA News and other broadcasters has been consistent in making the wrong impressions of the Japanese pop-culture, including some sinister accusations.