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Growing up in the '90s, 'TGIS' and all

[Welcome to summer! Let's try to kill boredom with cool activities at home, awesome travel itineraries, and lots of TV and movies!]

Image: Jannielyn Ann Bigtas
Image: Jannielyn Ann Bigtas


Back in 1995, before the Internet was a thing, when cell phones were Motorola ice shaver-looking devices, and everyone had their beepers clipped to the pockets of their cuffed jeans, I was a junior in high school.

Being 16 in the mid-'90s meant switching between Pearl Jam and TLC, going to soirees and hanging out with friends at the village clubhouse / park, and obsessing over prom.

TGI Fridays had just launched its first branch in Glorietta 4, and Saturday nights meant lining up outside the chain, hoping to catch a glimpse of your crush between orders of fried mozzarella and mocha mud pie.

When GMA first launched its brand new Saturday afternoon show, “TGIS” it merited a couple of eye rolls from my friends and me. The local shows always used to be tinged with a baduy factor, and the blatant play on our favorite hangout’s name seemed like it was trying too hard.

But with nothing better to do, my friends—and probably our entire high school batch—tuned into Channel 7 that first Saturday afternoon and were all sucked into the absolute black hole that was “TGIS, Thank God It’s Sabado.”

The opening theme was Paul Westerberg’s “Dyslexic Heart,” taken straight from the Gen X movie "Singles" (not baduy! — therefore the show had to be cool), and later on became “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.

The credits were snappy and cool; and the cast was fresh-faced and familiar, guys and girls we felt we could run into IRL, before IRL was even a thing. Everyone began to tune into the show; the characters' trivial teenage drama paralleled our own, and Joaquin “Wacks” Torres III (Bobby Andrews) and Peachy Real (Angelu de Leon) became familiar names to us all.

Wacks was definitely the popular one among my high school batch mates — and ironically enough, Bobby Andrews had become one of those faces we’d spot when going out on Friday or Saturday nights.

In the age of baby tees, mock turtleneck knits, loose jeans and Polo Sport sneakers, the TGIS barkada was as on trend as on trend could be. They looked like us, talked like us, and were mirrors of our own high school lives.

The B-plot storylines of Mickey (Michael Flores) and Cristina (Raven Villanueva), and JM (Onemig Bondoc) and Rain (Ciara Sotto) may have been less attention-grabbing than Wacks’ and Peachy’s on again off again affairs, but they didn’t stop us from tuning in for a full 90 minutes every Saturday afternoon.

Launched when sentimental cheesy '80s love songs began making their way back into the scene, Wacky and Peachy’s signature song, “It Might Be You” also made its way into prom playlists across the board. Back when mixed tapes were a thing and pirated mixed CDs were a super expensive commodity (anyone remember CD Gold and “Simply Jesse”?), TGIS was rife with Senti Sabado hits too.

One of the show’s standouts was the token class clown, Kiko de Dios (Red Sternberg). The unwitting dark horse of the show, his subplot involving a sickly girl from his past and his feelings for new cast member Mitch (Rica Peralejo).

Because every Pinoy show needs some heavy waterworks, this storyline substantially filled everyone’s need for a heart-wrenching cry. Viewers who didn’t switch channels while watching may also remember Red Sternberg’s appearance on the ubiquitous baby cologne commercial that would come on between segments.

The cast went on to have some spin-offs: the TGIS Movie, a horror movie called “Takot Ka Ba Sa Dilim?,” and “Wala na Bang Pag-ibig?” a rom-com that shared a name with one of Jaya’s big hits (my personal favorite). The crew was also never without the requisite variety show appearance, dancing to Pizzicato 5’s “Sweet Soul Revue” and other Top 40 hits.

As my friends and I went through junior and senior year and moved on to college, so did the TGIS crew. Wacks and Peachy handed over the reins to the “next” generation, Iñaki Torres III (Dingdong Dantes), Bianca de Jesus (Antoinette Taus), Tere Gonzaga (Kim delos Santos) and David (Dino Guevarra), while the original cast moved on from Saturday afternoons to Monday nights via “Growing Up,” an apt throwback to the hit that propelled '80s teen stars collectively known as the Bagets.

Unfortunately, “Growing Up” didn’t gain as much traction as “TGIS” did when it first launched. The show came to an abrupt halt when cast members, deep in their own personal dramas, required the show to end in a very awkward, meta cryfest that had the remaining cast members singing “Umagang Kay Ganda” — an echo of the final scene, where Wacks, stood up by Peachy at their wedding, was subsequently engulfed in a tearful signature TGIS group hug.

If you ever want to disconnect from the too-fast pace of present day teendom, “TGIS” is the perfect YouTube black hole for you. It’s a flawless rewind to a more innocent time, when '90s fashion simultaneously cool and uncool, actors and actresses looked and dressed their age, people weren’t tethered to their phones except for landline marathons and prank calls, and you could sing to “Walking on Sunshine” ironically, complete with black and white montage in your head.

It’s comforting to know we’ve got these clips to go back to. And when the call of the '90s is particularly strong, it’s good to know that an order of fried mozzarella and mocha mud pie is also — and still! — just a hop and a skip away.  — LA, GMA News

READ: All by just using a toaster oven: 'fried' egg, honey garlic cauliflower and chicken nuggets 

Tags: tgis, throwback