(New York) The offices of the Sesame Workshop, formerly the Children’s Television Network, have been home to popular education children’s programs such as Sesame Street and Big Bag. Many a muppet have called it home including Kermit the Frog, Bert and Ernie, and Big Bird.
Yet a recent video smuggled out of its premises reveals a more sinister side to the company.
The controversial video shows a haggard but still familiar face pleading to go home to his beloved country.
“Nakakulong po ako dito,” the shade of former Batibot star Pong Pagong said in hushed tone. “Mula 1994 ay nandito kami ni Kiko at bawal kaming lumabas sa selda. Kinuha nila si Kiko nung isang araw.. hindi ko alam kung saan siya dinala at hindi pa siya bumabalik… wala pong kang-kong dito… gutom na gutom na ako…”
(“Kiko and I have been imprisoned here since 1994 and we are not allowed to leave our cell. They took Kiko the other day and he has not been back since. They don’t have kang-kong and I’m starving…”)
Both Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing were abducted by agents of the Children’s Television Network in 1994 after licensing issues with Batibot went awry. They have not been heard of since then.
“We never did understand CTW’s claim on Pong,” said Artemio de la Cruz, president of the Free Pong Pagong movement. “He’s obviously a Filipino citizen and his detainment amounts to false imprisonment and slavery.”
The Free Pong Pagong movement claims that the issue is not one of licensing but rather that Pong Pagong’s preference for kang-kong, a Filipino leafy vegetable, was threatening American interests in the local vegetable industry.
Sesame Workshop has declined to comment on the video but the CTW maintained that both muppets were pulled out because of licensing issues rather than politico-economic ones.
Other muppets, some of them from Sesame Workshop, have voiced sympathy for Pong in light of the video.
“I don’t understand how they could be talking about licensing when we are living, organic, sentient beings. How can you license a living creature?” said Count von Count, a former regular on Sesame Street. “If they were taken in 1994 that amounts to 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8… 9… 10… 11… 12… 13… 14… 15… 16… 17 years of captivity AH AH AH…”
Malacañang has already ordered an official inquiry through the Philippine Embassy to the United States.