Bitag

infobox television
bgcolor=#c00
fgcolor=#fff
show_name = Bitag: X-Treme / BITAG Live


caption = Hindi ito drama! Di tulad ng iba! (This is no drama! Unlike the others!)
format = Investigative show
runtime = 1 hr / 1.5 hr
creator = Ben Tulfo & BST Tri-Media Productions
starring = Ben Tulfo, Erwin Tulfo
country = Philippines
network = IBC, UNTV-37
first_aired = 2002
last_aired = present

"Bitag" (Trap in Filipino) is an investigative program hosted by Ben Tulfo that originally aired on television network Associated Broadcasting Company (ABC) on September 14, 2002 before moving the following year to its present TV network Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC). During its launch, Ben described it as an investigative show like no other that strays away from the "packaged" aggressive image that the Tulfo clan is known for by adopting a more cut-throat, in-your-face approach. Its success also spawned a recap show that airs during weekdays on UNTV-37, and Simulcast on AM Radio Via DZME Radyo Uno, From 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. (Mondays to Fridays).

Format

An episode usually contains 3 different cases set to stock film music and industrial sound effects sardonically narrated by Ben before wrapping it up with an educational segment sponsored by PAGCOR. Bitag operates semi-autonomously, conducting reconnaissance and surveillance and deploys their own agents as undercovers. When enough intelligence is gathered, Ben coordinates with the local authorities to plan the manner of arrest and follows them with his convoy of security back-ups and camera men to document the entire procedure and its aftermath. In accordance with Ben's eschewal of "drama" and production in favor of "real reality", most cases air days after the shoot with minor cuts and editing used only to fit the documented footage under 10 minute segments. This is further proven by Ben's occasional absence in his UNTV show BITAG Live on weekdays, when he personally oversees certain case operations.

The programs segments are classified according to their nature:
* Operations, which document actual Bitag operations in coordination with law enforcement elements.
* Updates, or follow-up reports on the status of successful Bitag operations.
* "Kilos Pronto" Segments, which showcase immediate action or assistance on complaints or concerns.
* "Akto" Segments, usually depicting irregularities or "questionable" situations unexpectedly encountered by Bitag (caught in the act)
* Wanted, a new segment featuring the apprehension of a "wanted" criminal.
* Biblically Speaking, a biblical related segment hosted by Bro. Eli Soriano. This is only seen in BITAG Live on UNTV.
* Rewind, replays of existing episodes, oftentimes as reminders to the public.

For safety reasons, the Bitag strike force is fully-armed and trained in self-defense disciplines (including Tulfo himself) and comprises professional security personnel. They are also allowed to carry their firearms in airplanes and vessels provided they surrender it prior to departure. However, the team still makes it a point to request assistance from the local authorities when dwelling in unfamiliar territory in accordance with the law.

Bitag was originally pitched to other TV networks but an unidentified "Tulfo" was opposed to it [ [http://www.newsflash.org/2002/08/sb/sb002375.htm Regines Toronto Concert Cancelled?; The Other Tulfo] [http://www.philstar.com/ The Philippine Star] . September 2, 2002]

BITAG Live

In 2004, UNTV-37 provided Ben with his own daily morning show, Bahala si Bitag (taking its name from his bi-weekly newspaper column of the same name) where Ben fields questions and complaints from callers in addition to showing re-runs of cases for the purpose of alerting the public. The show has since reformatted as "BITAG Live."

The show underwent through a series of changes in conjunction with their tagline of "continuous change for the better", incorporating their Kilos Pronto segment (from Bitag) into their show as a live help line and updated the stale set with a more modern look - most noticeably their use of a Plasma TV backdrop. (Those were later removed.) BITAG Live also has invited guests to speak regarding cases BITAG currently holds, or to speak regarding current issues. They also add a religious portion Biblically Speaking hosted by Bro. Eli Soriano.

In 2007, Ben started prefacing lectures with "were taking care of business" when showing his subjects how Bitag would deal with the matter. Consequently, Takin Care of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive is used as the theme song on one of their remixed ads.

Erwin Tulfos arrival

In 2006, Erwin Tulfo, Ben's brother and a contracted but underused employee of ABS-CBN, officially joined Bitag and BSTs title was changed to Bahala sina Ben at Erwin as both would answer calls and discuss subjects on air equally in addition to having his own segment (under the motif Mission-X) on its main show. The pairing did not last long and BSTs title has since reverted to the previous title after Erwin left to team up with his other brothers Ramon and Raffy in the show Isumbong mo sa Tulfo Brothers on RPN-9. The latter aired its final episode on August 12, 2006 [ [http://www.abante.com.ph/issue/sep0606/public_rt.htm Nagsusumbong ang ISUMBONG MO!] [http://www.abante.com.ph/ Abante Tonight] July 28, 2006]

Currently unemployed and facing charges of libel, Erwin re-joined Bitag on March 1 2007 albeit in a lesser capacity. Erwin often accompany Ben during high-profile cases or works individually, no longer sharing hosting duties on BST. Erwin still maintains his subgroup Mission-X, as well as its own separate action center, that sometimes peer with Bitag's.

Ben and Erwin sometimes combine their workforce (Bitag and Mission-X) when necessary. Erwin sometimes handle Bitag cases and encounters the suspects themselves in lieu of Ben, particularly in sensitive cases that requires a little more restraint.

Unique elements

Although the concept of investigative and public service programs are hardly new on local television, there are still differences between the show and most of its rivals. While their peers are restricted entirely to the confines of their studio/shooting location or function exclusively as "hosts", Ben considers himself as an "investigator" (not a media personality), and is on the field most of the time while still regarding his prey with the same unabashed contempt, regardless of proximity. Most importantly, the show doesn't discriminate and has handled cases both small and large and is nonchalant with regards to the background of the felons they pursue - be it the child of a network executive, high-ranking police officers, government institutions, city mayors, foreigners, relatives of influential entities or huge crime syndicates - as host Ben Tulfo always says, "Walang sinasantot walang sinisino ang patibong ng Bitag!" (The snare of Bitag recognizes and discriminates no one!)

The Host

Perhaps the shows main draw is its host (and also producer and director) Ben Tulfo who subscribes to the adage "it takes a wolf to catch a wolf" which, more often that not, leads to precarious situations that he immerses himself with gusto. Each case, Ben finds himself getting in the face of his subjects, be it ordinary suspects or policemen - sparring verbally (often laced with profanity) and at times, physically. Being the shows producer as well, he prefers an approach and presentation that lets the viewers see the true face of reality, no matter how grim or disturbing it is - the lack of a formal script means no dramatizations or re-enactments, as said by the shows tagline, "Hindi ito drama, di tulad ng iba!", and guarantees audiences of raw, documented footage of events as they happened.

Ben, at one point, adapts his show title as his monicker or nickname, calling himself Bitag.

Reaction and Controversy

As a result of his brazenfaced exploits, Ben has received generous praise from supporters who find his brand of crusaders zeal efficient when dealing with the scourges of society, and also jeers from those who consider his behavior repulsive and inappropriate for a media personality.

Positive fandom of Ben's efforts has led to the creation of a fansite dedicated to the show, and unofficial feeds of its episodes to YouTube. At first, praising the existence of its videos in YouTube, Ben later asked that episodes of Bitag not be uploaded. BITAG contacted the person responsible for the feeds and asked him to cease doing so. This would be later overturned as highlights or teasers of BITAG episodes will now be uploaded in YouTube, by the same person, under an agreement. A possible website for BITAG is speculated as well.

His abovementioned recklessness has also led to several tension-filled incidents that range from minor physical confrontations to an actual firearm being pointed at him and his staff, prompting many to speculate if he will ever tone down his approach in the interest of his own public image and safety. These gripes are regularly brought up by furious viewers in his radio program, Bahala si Bitag, to which Ben contends that as long as his actions are for the greater good, he will continue to press on with his methods regardless.

A rival network, ABS-CBN, launched an investigative show of their own called XXX that airs at the same timeslot. Ex-Bitag operatives comprise most of its staff and the shows title lampoons the suffix "X-treme" in Bitag.

Principles

Tulfos guiding principles are plain and simple, which he iterates at the end of the program:

cquote|Makikita ang katotohanan kung sumbungan ang pag-uusapan sa Bitag. Ang pagtitiwalay nakakamit dahil sa resulta - GAWA, HINDI NGAWA. Dito nakakamit ang salitang RESPETO.

If you're talking about complaints and public service, Bitag addresses and reveals the truth and reality. Results earn you trust - walk the walk, not talk the talk. Not whining on the problem, just acting upon the solution. It is through this that you earn respect.

Episodes

Awards and recognitions

* Winner, Best Public Service Program - 2005 & 2007 PMPC Star Awards for Television
**IBC 13 (2005)
**UNTV 37 (2007)
* Winner, Best Public Service Program Host - 2005 PMPC Star Awards for Television

References

External links

* [http://bitag.110mb.com X-Tremity]
* [http://www.untvweb.com/programs/behindthescene_bst.html UNTV Web: Behind The Scenes]
* [http://www.atheista.net/?p=132 Youve Been Trapped!]

ee also

*List of Philippine television shows


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