How it all started.Once Upon a Time
in The Eighties
, a Filipino
architect named Apolonio "Pol" Medina Jr. came home from the Middle East and made a comic strip, inspired partly by a friend who bought a pig farm and partly by other things from his life and work. Pugad Baboy
(Filipino for "pigs' nest") is a newspaper comic
about the daily life
and adventures of a community of fat people in a Manila suburb.Pugad Baboy
debuted in the Philippine Daily Inquirer
on May 18, 1988, one of the young paper's first comic strips. After 25 years, controversy forced Medina to leave
on June 6, 2013. Weeks later, it resumed
as a webcomic
. It has produced merchandise, book compilations, original graphic novels, and a short-lived live-action TV comedy series
in the 1990s.
While the main characters are the Sungcal family
and their talking dog
Polgas, it also features strips tackling Philippine society, culture, and politics. The wide scope of its humor has caused it to be compared to Doonesbury
Pugad Baboy has examples of the following tropes:
- Afraid of Needles: Tomas. In one strip, he actually pulls a gun in front of a doctor when he takes out a syringe.
- Art Evolution: The early strips resemble little of what they are today in terms of character design. Not only are the eyes bigger, they are also more rounded.
- Author Avatar: Medina says that he identifies himself with Dagul (for his serious side), Utoy (for his child-like behavior) and Polgas (for his adventurous side).
- After his departure from newspapers and switch to an online format, he now often draws himself interacting with the characters.
- Author Filibuster: Most of the characters' discussions regarding current events are Medina's social commentary. Most of them are quite sarcatic.
- Polgas in his "Dobermaxx" secret agent persona.
- Dagul also exhibits this when he gets to show off his martial arts skills.
- Tomas and Bab also have their moments.
- Igno gets to shine in the Bounty Hunter arc.
- Later, Tiny, Pao, and even Brosia get their own pieces of the action.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Barbie. She's generally nice to most of the community members— but if you're Tomas and you've just come home at 4 in the morning, drunk and stinking of woman's perfume, then you better run.
- Bottomless Magazines: Averted. There are jokes about how the NPA rebels seem perpetually low on ammo, which also extend to how the military is also strapped for working hardware.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Polgas sometimes talks to the reader regarding the events in the story or whatever commentaries that he's discussing. Some characters even join in as well.
- Camp Gay: Pao. This is a plot point in the Hiwaga ng Duenas Story Arc, where he was captured by a cult searching for pregnant women to be sacrificed, and they thought Pao was pregnant because of his big belly.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: Originally and primarily a comedy strip with a focus on Slice of Life adventures, over the years it has often delved into story arcs of varying seriousness, tackling issues like drug abuse, organized crime and government corruption. Some stories are also Fantasy and Science Fiction-oriented.
- Child Prodigy: Utoy, Dagul's youngest son.
- Chinese People: Mauricio "Mao" Tang, a Chinese store-owner. He dislikes it when people fail to pay him credit, and is never above using kung-fu and a sword to force them to pay.
- Comic-Book Time: The kids are still eight or nine years old and haven't even aged or graduated from elementary. And yet, they still play video games, watch cartoons or read books that are popular as time passes. There's also Senator Cabalfin who is still a senator regardless of administration and senate line-up.
- Darker and Edgier: The first and to date only original graphic novel spin-off, titled Pirata (Pirate), due to Creator Breakdown at the time of composition. The Pugad Baboy residents aid a smuggler on the run from his own group and rogue elements of the Philippine Navy. Polgas is revealed to have a Dark and Troubled Past as a stray puppy.
- Cerebus Retcon: Polgas was designed with an earring in imitation of Dagul. The graphic novel reveals it belonged to his mother and fell off when they were separated.
- Dirty Communists: Noli averts this, though he's technically a NPA guerilla. That said, some of his comrades in the mountains still try to act the part.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Depending on the scenario, it's either played with or averted for laughs.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Barbie, being an extreme example of Straw Feminist, always gets away with punishing Tomas for his womanizing ways.
- Drives Like Crazy: Many of the male drivers, though resident mechanic Joboy is the worst offender.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Polgas couldn't talk in the earliest strips. When he first talked, it was a big deal, with the Sungcals freaking out.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Polgas has one beneath the Sungcal residence, accessible via a well elevator. One sign that everyone knows Polgas' double life as a government super agent.
- Expy: Noli's hairstyle and Permastubble are shout-outs to Rambo.
- Fartillery: Many strips portray this, but Kules the engineer was the most memorable.
Kules' Arab boss: "I own ten oil refineries."
Kules: "Well, I have only one oil refinery."
Kules' Arab boss: "What does it produce? Benzene?"
-Kules farts, causing the Arab boss' cigarette to explode-
Kules: "No. Methane."
- Another story involves Igno and Bab using a bacon-covered balloon filled with farts, to be used on Senator Cabalfin's guard dog as part of their plan to watch his maid take a bath. It works... though the dog isn't the only one knocked out.
- Gatling Good: Tomas wields one against bank robbers in the James Bab arc. The bank robbers survive the carnage, but only after Tomas destroys the wall surrounding the robbers.
- Gratuitous English: Shows up in both straight English and "Taglish" forms. Justified in that English is also the other national language of the Philippines.
- Hair Today Gone Tomorrow: In flashbacks, Dagul is shown to have had much fuller hair, though even then it was already receding.
- Hypocritical Humor: A staple.
- Karmic Death: It's suggested that Cassius "G.I." Jones, villain of a Story Arc set in Subic Bay, was killed by the vengeful families of the women he and his henchmen lured into prostitution. Although the local news says that his body was never found, Polgas (in his "Bark Justice" alter ego) created the story to cover up the suggested murder.
- Live-Action Adaptation: On 1993, Pugad Baboy was made into a live-action TV show called Rated PB (Pang-Bayan) – Pugad Baboy Sa TV. Though the show was live-action, the opening logo featured limited animation. Some of the episodes were based upon earlier plots in the strip, while others followed a skit show format. It was aired on GMA 7 and lasted only two seasons, 15 episodes in all.
- Lethal Chef: Tiny. She once used papaya soap on a papaya-based soup when the dish called for the real deal.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Bab.
- Only Sane Man: Dagul most of the time, though Debbie serves as this on those occasions Dagul is Not So Above It All.
- The Prankster: Paltik, Tomas' son.
- Punny Name/Meaningful Name: Most of the characters.
- Rags to Riches: An introduction panel in one of the compilations has Pol Medina lampshading how the comic has helped him earn a rather comfortable lifestyle... then poking fun at how his "riches" still look like crap compared to what wealthier Filipinos enjoy.
- Running Gag:
- Pol Medina is a tad too fond of joking about Arabs and South Asians being foul-smelling to the point of Unfortunate Implications. One strip series involves a chemical agent called PSSI, with the acronym translating in English as "Iraqi soldier's jock sweat", and another strip has resident hippie Bab scare Tiny and Pao away from their shawarma by claiming that it tastes like an Arab's underarm— which lets him claim the shawarma for himself.
- Paltik's circumcision blues.
- Polgas' and Dagul's table conversations turning to Squick-worthy subjects, occasional ending with Debbie making them leave the table.
- Dagul being the Butt Monkey of his maid's jokes about him being bald.
- Tomas being pummeled by his wife Barbie when she sees him flirt with other women.
- Secret Identity: Majority of the main cast possess an alternate identity for their action roles. As of the latest story arc, all of them are revealed to serve as Polgas' squad within the Organized Canine Bureau. To wit:
- Polgas: Dobermaxx, originally Wisedog
- Dagul: Bardagul Kapote, a parody of the Hardboiled Detective
- Bab: [[Comic Book/Batman Babman]]
- Tiny: Obesa Vanidosa
- Utoy, Paltik, and Joma: the Walang Payat Gang ("No Thin" Gang)
- Brosia turns out to possess one, more elaborate than the others. She was scouted by Polgas of OCB training, with the intended codemane Amrita (Hindu counterpart of the Ambrosia from Greek mythology) but she failed all of the training. However, when electrocuted, an alternate consciousness emerges with all the skills intact, but can't be used in her Brosia personality.
- Only Tomas, Noli, Igno, Pao, and Dado do not take alternate identities, with Igno and Dado's Bounty Hunter and werewolf form, respectively, not counting.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: No one is fooled by each other's secret identities in the slightest. Special mention goes to Polgas, where it's all but outright said that everyone knows that Polgas is Wisedog/Dobermaxx, but nevertheless behave as if they're separate identities. Even when Polgas changes clothes in full line of sight, the cast reacts as if identity suddenly vanishes and the other appeared out of nowhere.
- Servile Snarker: Brosia. She makes up for her general lack of intelligence (or formal schooling) with witty jokes and pranks at the other characters' expense, particularly Dagul.
- ShoutOut: Many, often to Western pop culture such as Wiseguy, Star Wars', Ghostbusters, Aliens, Predator, DC Comics and and Marvel Comics, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Bab at one point quotes "The Gospel of John": Imagine all the people... living life in peace.
- Other shout-outs are based on Philippine pop culture, like the superheroine Darna, and sometimes local celebrities and politicians appear for some Adam Westing.
- Elements of Japanese pop culture referenced include Voltes V, Kamen Rider Black, and The Samurai (Onmitsu Kenshi) — all examples of Germans Love David Hasselhoff when they aired. Dagul waxes nostalgic about pretending to be Shintaro from the last series, which was a black-and-white show.
- Various TV trends like telenovelas and Asian dramas have also been referenced through the years.
- The nonsensical title ''Pugad Baboy" (as pigs don't nest) is likely a reference to the Philippine historic site Pugad Lawin ("hawk's nest").
- Snark Bait: In-universe, Dagul is the usual target of Brosia's jokes.
- Speed Dating: In one strip, Tiny finally accepts Bab to be his girlfriend, for only two seconds. She even says it is the shortest date ever, worthy of the Guinness World Records.
- Straw Feminist: Barbie, Tomas' wife.
- Strawman Political:
- Senator Cabalfin, who is the embodiment of the Philippine Corrupt Politician. However, on occasion, his portrayal is sympathetic, such as when Tomas, Bab, and Igno plan a Peeping Tom raid on his compound, intending to peep on Cabalfin's maid in the shower.
- Sometimes, caricatures of actual politicians appear, mostly as a Take That by the author.
- Stupid Surrender: In one arc, the armed Igorot henchmen of Atong Damuho in Baguio didn't surrender because of the combined military might of the PMA cadets and the NPA rebels. No, it was the appearance of gay men from St. Louis University that made them decide to give up.
- Stern Teacher: Miss Nobatos is visibly in her 50's or 60's, and often acts as the Straight Man to Paltik's horse jokes (because of her buck teeth).
- Swiss Army Weapon: Played for Laughs twice.
- Utoy's Swiss Army Knife had a Mac PC, a Family Computer console, and an all-terrain vehicle. The secret organization called the OCB had a hand in designing the modified Swiss knives.
- One comic strip has one of the kids pick up a Swiss Army Knife with parts like curlers and hair irons. Turns out, it's Pao's.
- Talking Animal: Polgas. Other animals exhibit it, but rarely.
- Tank Goodness: Tomas is sometimes using a tank as his regular personal vehicle. He is almost never seen firing the guns, though.
- Take That: The comic delivers more than a few jabs towards corrupt politicians, the NPA, the Catholic Church, and the follies of Filipino society in general.
- Vigilante Man: One Story Arc involves a vigilante group called the Walang Payat Gang (Literally means No Thin Person Gang), formed by Polgas alongside Utoy, Paltik and Joma, the sons of Dagul, Tomas and Noli. They engaged in non-lethal vigilante operations against Dirty Cops, culminating in making the local corrupt chief of police mend his ways.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Tomas, the air force sergeant, with his communist rebel buddy Noli.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Stink and Polgas do not mix.
- Write Who You Know: Besides using himself as inspirations for Dagul, Utoy, and Polgas, most of the cast are based off Medina's family and friends, and are often exaggerations of their respective quirks.
- Zeerust: An old arc from the early 1990s involved the cast time traveling a hundred years into the future: one where America is Japan's personal golf course and the Philippines itself has thoroughly turned Chinese.