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May 17, 2011
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Much has been said about the upcoming remake of Iskul Bukol, which will premiere next Tuesday, May 24 as part of TV5’s primetime line-up.

But as much as we'd love to see TVJ back together in a sitcom, much less in a classic one, the remake version will reportedly have no relation to the Ungasis and the Escaleras of the past. Fair enough - it's not like we don't see those three on Eat Bulaga anyway.

But the younger generation asks: what is Iskul Bukol and why is news of a remake such a big deal in the first place? 

What’s the show all about?
The original Iskul Bukol was an hour-long sitcom that aired on IBC 13 from 1977 to 1988. It featured  the now iconic trio of Tito, Vic, and Joey as three ill-behaved students enrolled in a fictional school called Wanbol University, where most of the comedy takes place.

Tito Sotto and Joey De Leon played the role of the Escalera brothers, notorious siblings who plot dim-witted schemes much to the dismay of their professor, Miss Tapia (played by Mely Tagasa). Vic in turn is Victorio Ungasis, a teacher’s pet and a chick magnet, but also the object of the Escaleras’ abhorrence.

The show ran for a good decade, spanning 10 seasons and has since spawned four film versions during its run – 1978's Iskul Bukol the Movie, 1980's Iskul Bukol Freshmen, and 1987’s The Best of Iskul Bukol: The Movie – and a reunion movie called Iskul Bukol: 20 Years Later in 2008.

So way back before university cult hits Saved by the Bell and Boy Meets World rocked our world, remember that Iskul Bukol was already a hit among Pinoy audiences.

Who else was in the old Iskul Bukol?
Bing Angeles, who played Mang Temi, was one of the show’s main characters as the owner of the university cafeteria. Comedians Jimmy Santos and Redford White also served as waiters, playing the roles of uhm, Redford and Jimmy.

Anthony Roquel, whose Tonette Macho character appeared in several 80s flicks started his career in this show, and Ritchie D’ Horsie played his usual self as Ritchie Kabayo, Tito and Joey’s accomplice and resident fall guy.

Even Joey Albert and Sharon Cuneta joined in on several episodes, with Joey playing Vic Ungasis’ love interest and Sharon being the charming younger sister of the Escalera brothers.

What made the old one a classic?
Whether making Vic Ungasis believe he was in Hong Kong when he was just actually in Ongpin or endlessly mocking Mang Temi for his charcoal skin, the Escalera brothers represented everything that is awesome about school – everything else but the studying.

Comic brilliance coming from TVJ is also a factor, and much like how we’ve grown accustomed to the cast of Palibhasa Lalake and Kool Ka Lang, it’s the barkadahan between the cast members that always strike sitcom gold.

Next: And in with the new!


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WORDS BY MIKEY AGULTO

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