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Comic Strip / Pugad Baboy

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How it all started.

Once Upon a Time in The '80s, 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 "pig-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, as one of the young paper's first comic strips. From 2004 to 2009, it also had full-color Sunday strips. After 25 years, controversy forced Medina to leave on June 6, 2013. On June 17, it resumed as a Webcomic for the Philippine news website Rappler. Due to the web-friendly format, it was now oriented vertically instead of horizontally, and for a time had alternate choose-your-own punchlines. It concluded on March 1, 2018 and returned to its previous newspaper format via the Inquirer's longtime rival, the Philippine Star, on March 5 2018. After one year, the comic is no longer in Star since March 9, 2019. Medina still attends local comic conventions and his Facebook page and Twitter account remain active where fans can order his books from him. He still draws the comic which he posted on his personal Facebook account.

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. The reissued first book displays this by having the front cover be a remake of the original, now back cover.
  • 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 sarcastic.
  • Berserk Button: Never bring up the subject of baldness around Dagul. Servile Snarker Brosia delights in pushing this for all it's worth.
  • 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.
  • Big Eater: Implied and talked about more often than shown on panel. The men are fond of social drinking too, beer etc. but Tomas and Igno tend to play The Alcoholic roles the lost. Some on-panel examples of the former include:
    • Bab and Tiny order snacks at the movie theater, with Tiny ordering two of several different items. Then she asks Bab what he wants.
    • Eat-all-you-can restaurants are at their mercy with the managers panicking and screaming mayday at even just their approach. Though justified in one story arc where they went to a country resort and they were especially hungry and exhausted from just hiking to get there for much of the day, but then they demolished the entire buffet.
    • Parodying an old Pizza Hut TV ad, the kids see Tiny in one with a full spread of various pizzas on the table. They happily rush in, but the pizza is all gone by the next panel and Tiny chides them for being slowpokes.
  • Big Fun: Downplayed since everyone who's a main recurring character tends to be fat, chubby and big-bellied, including Polgas the dog, but in general they're an easygoing bunch who happily get along with each other.
  • 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 Dueñas 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.
  • Carnivore Confusion: An unusual case. Apart from Polgas, most dogs bark and behave like "normal" dogs and are treated as such—to the point where humans still eat them in the Pugad Baboy universe. (For context: Stray or street dogs in the Philippines are occasionally killed, cooked and eaten, often as accompaniment to beer-drinking sessions, despite this being illegal since the 1990s.)
  • 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.
  • China Takes Over the World: discussed in certain strips. One has Tomas' claiming that with their population, China can conquer the world. Unfortunately for him, Mao hears this, clearly pissed.
    • Another strip from the 2078 storyline has Chinese-Filipino businessmen take over the Philippines, make Chinese the official language, and in a role reversal, authentic Filipino cuisine now exists in where was Manila's Chinatown today.
  • 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.
  • Comical Translation: Used sometimes from English to Filipino, Filipino to English, or Filipino to other Philippine languages. For instance:
    • Senator Cabalfin makes a speech with a lackey translating everything he says, sentence by sentence. "In union there is strength" = "Sa sibuyas (onion) may lakas".
    • In a Police Brutality joke about local cops' warning shots being the same as opening fire, the cop blasting away yells "Manigas ka!" which a footnote translates as "Freeze!" But the literal translation is "Stiffen up" e.g. like a corpse, so basically "Drop dead".
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Dagul sometimes gets a little too inventive in the kitchen. He once suggested an ampalaya (bitter gourd) pizza in lieu of popcorn to accompany a movie session at home.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Done by Tomas and Polgas to a man who wanted to buy marijuana-spiked purple yam (ube) jam in The Baguio Connection. After the poor sod was forced to watch hours of The 700 Club and dramas from That's Entertainment (an afternoon teen variety show in Philippine television in the late 80s to the 90s), the man became a stool pigeon and told them the location of the marijuana operation.
  • 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.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": The Apo Hikers arc has a bobcat named Bobcat. Also a Talking Animal like Polgas.
  • Dirty Communists: Noli averts this, though he's technically an 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.
  • Everyone Owns a Mac: Many characters were depicted using Macs. It may had to do with Medina in Real Life using a Mac as a personal computer.
  • Expy: Noli's hairstyle and Permastubble are shout-outs to Rambo.
  • Face Fault: Every characters' reaction when someone, mainly Dagul and Polgas, makes a pun.
  • Fat Comic Relief: Well, pretty much every major character is fat for endearing purposes (particularly in a Third World/Philippine context where some degree of fatness is seen as akin to prosperity vs. poverty, thus this means they're mostly relatively comfortably middle-class) but from time to time there are still standard "fat jokes", especially early on, like:
    • A pedicab driver begging Bab and Tiny in full kow-tow mode not to ride in his (pedal-powered) vehicle.
    • Foreign books and international news reports mentioning the Pugad Baboy community itself, like the residents being barred from climbing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or likening an earthquake to the impact of their annual marathon race.
    • The men all having the same idea to go as a sumo wrestler for a costume party (because it was the cheapest option).
  • 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.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Polgas.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A staple.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: In 2078, according to Chewbaboy, a tour-guide from the future an a clear Expy of Chewbacca, Japan bought most of American real estate and turned it to a gigantic golf course, and people from Arab Gulf countries, now bereft with oil, are now working as contract workers in Japan.
  • 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.
  • Military Brat: Besides Paltik, Cris Caldera from the Bodyguard story arc. His father, a well-regarded general, was kept in a bedridden, comatose state, so that Cris can enjoy the perks of being an "anak ng Diyos" ("son of God", a Filipino slang term for children of generals who turn out to be spoiled brats) by leeching off his father's income.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Bab.
  • Noodle Incident:
    Dagul: Polgas, do you remember when you nearly died after smelling my Indian friend's underarm?
  • Only Sane Man: Dagul most of the time, though Debbie serves as this on those occasions Dagul is Not So Above It All.
  • The Pig-Pen: Bab. Goes with the territory of being a New-Age Retro Hippie.
  • The Prankster: Paltik, Tomas' son.
    • Polgas is sometimes this-cum-The Gadfly to Mang Dagul, often messing with him when Dagul is being hounded by deadlines.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Barbie and Joboy sports this line when the former caught wind over some Flip flops and the latter for Bab calling it a ripoff upholster that cause him to shoot at the manhole.
  • Punny Name/Meaningful Name: Most of the characters. For a non-regular example, Chewbaboy from the 2078 arc is a parody of Chewbacca, with "baboy" (pig) in place of "bacca" i.e. "baka" (cow, from Spanish vaca).
  • 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.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: In the 2078 arc, Bab travels to the future, where he sells off his antique, 108-year-old peace medallion for 10 million pesos. Bab is elated at finally becoming a millionaire … until he tries to buy the cheapest pair of shoes there is: a fairly affordable 8 million.
  • Running Gag:
    • Pol Medina is a tad too fond of joking about Arabs and South Asians being foul-smelling. 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.
    • invokedPolgas' 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: 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.
  • Series Fauxnale: The final two Rappler strips have Polgas jumping into a Doctor Strange (2016) portal to parts, actually just the Philippine Star.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Storefront Television Display: One old strip has Bab and Tiny going to a store with a TV on display showcasing a movie. Bab remarks that the movie is long but interesting and asks Tiny if he wants to buy some popcorn.
  • Straw Feminist: Barbie, Tomas' wife.
  • Straw Character:
    • 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 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 Camp Gay men from St. Louis University that scared the crap out of them and made them decide to give up. (The henchmen were dressed as Igorot tribesmen and thus wore mostly just loincloths, so they feared getting stripped by the "loincloth collectors".)
  • 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).
  • The Stoner: Bab. Attempts to break his weed habit occasionally come up as a story device. For instance, in one mini-arc, his mother (who disapproves heavily of the habit) confuses his weed stash for oregano, and mixes it into her spaghetti. Which she cooked for a prayer meeting. Bab is understandably horrified and downs the spaghetti in one gulp—but exposes himself in the process.
  • 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.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Utoy, Paltik and Joma attempt this once to see an adult movie. They even use it to scare off a moviegoer who started hitting on Trenchcoat!Utoy.
  • Trapped in the Past: Temporally inverted in the 2078 arc, where the main cast accidentally ride a train from the then-present of 1992 into 2078, thanks to a wormhole swallowing up the train. The arc has them briefly adjusting to a very dense, overcrowded, and CyberPunk-ish metropolitan Manila (and lamenting the lack of beer in the 2070s), and has Polgas and his future counterpart Dobermaxx (his grandson, and the original source of his own codename) facing off against future baddies, before riding the next wormhole back into their time. (The arc never explains the fate of the presumed other passengers though.)
  • 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.
  • Zeerust: 2078, 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.