Manila, 11 August—Coming of age in the mid-to-late 90s is incomplete without television. As a child who lived in the outskirts of Metro Manila (pre-city Bacoor reprezent), I was late to everything: We had no phone, no cable TV, no desktop computer, no Internet until I was in high school. This meant that I spent most of my childhood out on the street, picking fights over basketball in the summer, or watching good old free TV during the rainy season.
At the time, TV was at least a solitary experience, or at most a family one—while watching, you either interacted with family members in the living room with you or waited until the next school day to talk to your friends about whatever it was—no watch parties or trending hashtags or live reaction feeds or whatever. Word of mouth was word of mouth; no army or algorithm could manipulate or game it.
I wasn’t too attached to mid-90s weekend afternoon teen shows because they aired on weekend afternoons, which were my sacred time for play. Looking back, my ten-year-old self had the correct idea—I wish I could still protect my personal playtime against television or other distraction with the devotion I held as a ten-year-old.
But more than that, I really did not find them interesting—their concerns were a bit older and more on the romance side, which I truly could not bring myself to care for. They lived in a posh village, had parties in a club house, had cars and went to bars in baggy pants.
It was probably a reflection of affluent mid-90s teens at the time, but it really did not reflect me.
I did, however, go to a school full of affluent teenagers. In Alabang. So yes, it was quite impossible for me not to hear about TGIS, which aired on local TV from 1995 to 1999. It was mostly word of mouth—somebody casually saying something about the last episode, or someone saying they’re off early on a Saturday because TGIS is airing soon, or someone fawning over the show’s main ship, Wacks and Peachy, played by Bobby Andrews and Angelu de Leon.
It’s been twenty-four years since TGIS first aired—undoubtedly the mother of all teen shows thereafter, alongside its contemporaries Gimik (which started airing a year later) and Tabing Ilog (started 1999). After that, I grew out of touch with local teen television mostly, as the original runs ended and the relative novelty wore off—or at least, for me.
I suppose every generation has its own TGIS—what was it, for the generations afterward? What is it, for the generations today? My knowledge on these updated teen trends was put on the spot when I attempted explaining TGIS to someone who was unfamiliar with the show and its stars. (This conversation actually started when I mentioned Bobby Andrews as a tangent to the whole Julia-Gerald-Bea issue and the Bobbie Salazar memes it later spawned, but this is another topic altogether.)
For some reason I could not capture TGIS’ spirit accurately, nor could I translate it, modernize it, or compare it with shows from more recent years. I could not go the route of, “Para siyang (relatively new local show), pero mid-90s at lahat ng lalaki nasa gitna hati ng buhok” because what relatively new local show? I was at a loss.
I ended up saying that it was like “Skins, with generations, but with less drugs.” Hay. Not a perfect effort, but the best as it is.
Hey, Queers!: A small project alert
We’re thinking about making an online hub for Filipino queer makers! I have been sitting and sitting and sitting on this idea for eight years, and at this point, I think we have a fairly good idea of where to take it.
Better yet: Take a few minutes for this form, maybe?
Happy long weekend,