SINGAPORE—It was a sight as familiar as adobo on the table at lunch.
As the EB Babes gyrated relentlessly onstage, Tito, Vic and Joey dished out mischievous one-liners. Paolo Ballesteros, in drag as Shamcey Mwah Mwah Tsup Tsup, upstaged the girls, including stunning Iza Calzado.
Audience warmer Philip Lazaro convinced the crowd, which included Philippine Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz, to do the “Jump Brother” dance.
As expected, Allan K brought the house down with his Miss Universe monologue. Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola, for their part, turned the “Juan for All, All for Juan” segment into a global activity—from “sugod barangay” to “sugod silya.” The reigning national parlor game, “Pinoy Henyo,” was likewise tweaked for the mostly OFW audience.
The “Eat Bulaga” theme might have been revised, too: “Mula Aparri Hanggang Singapore?”
Last Oct. 30, EB’s Dabarkads left their comfort zone at Broadway Centrum in Quezon City to perform for Filipinos at D’Marquee, Pasir Ris, in this city-state.
The venue wasn’t the only marked change. As a production staffer pointed out, the team prepared an X-rated version of “Eat Bulaga” for the Singapore crowd. “[Today] we can crack jokes that we can’t normally do on live noontime TV,” Tito Sotto remarked.
“It’s totally unpredictable,” Vic Sotto agreed. “We’re free to do anything onstage kasi.”
“We want to offer our kababayans something new,” added Joey de Leon.
It’s not altogether bawdy humor, explained Tito, “just a little naughty.”
Needless to say, the audience lapped up the TVJ brand of slightly risqué humor.
Tickets (S$25-S$65) to the 3,000-capacity venue were sold out, reported the promoters Shadow Inc. Entertainment, led by Haro de Guzman, James Ong and JD Gungon.
There were Filipinos who flew in from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Australia to watch the show, said the promoters.
Weren’t they worried about the famously strict Singapore censors? Malou Choa-Fagar, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Tape Inc., said she asked the promoters to check with local authorities. “The jokes in Tagalog were fine, but we had to go easy on the hand gestures. We had to trim Wally and Jose’s routine a bit.”
It was no happy accident that the Singapore show coincided with the long Halloween weekend.
Joey noted that the road show was also a chance for the Dabarkads to “bond” as a family. Tito concurred, “It’s not work for us, as we get to relax for a few days.”
Traveling helps them grow closer, said Joey, especially experiencing the highs and lows of being on the road.
Case in point: Pauleen Luna helped Ruby Rodriguez and Julia Clarete do their tresses. “Para kaming nagkukutuhan (it was like we were looking for head lice) as we did each other’s hair backstage,” Ruby recalled.
“We don’t earn much from these shows, but we look forward to it because we get to travel as a group,” said Joey, who said he’d like the group to tour Hong Kong next time.
It’s also one big food trip for the team. Tito and Vic are certified foodies. Tito and Vic enjoyed introducing exotic fare—from chili crabs to barbecued stingray in the Hawkers’ Centers—to their friends Anjo Yllana, Jimmy Santos, Ryan Agoncillo and newly married Pia Guanio.
By the end of the trip, Allan and Jose were complaining of weight gain.
Tony Tuveria, big boss of Tape Inc., said it’s important for the EB team to visit and pay tribute to OFWs with a show that’s different from what they usually catch on GMA Pinoy TV.
“Most OFWs left the country in the late 1970s and 1980s and they know Tito, Vic and Joey quite well,” the producer said. “They’ve been away for years and, with this concert, they get a glimpse of home.”
Vic concurred: “Aside from vacationing together, we also got to entertain OFWs who worked hard and saved up for tickets to our show.”
In on the joke
Julia noted: “It’s our chance to thank them for their support.”
EB is seen twice daily (5 p.m. and 11 p.m.) on GMA Pinoy TV in Singapore and thrice (10:30 p.m., 10 a.m., 3 p.m.) in the United States.
The OFWs are updated with the latest happenings back home, said the Tape bosses.
In the middle of a song number, Joey chided Vic for being a playboy. Vic retorted, self-deprecatingly: “Ako nga ang laging iniiwan. Buti na lang may kapalit na apat. (I’m the one who’s always left behind. Good thing, I have four girls on standby.)”
The venue erupted with glee. The Singapore crowd was apparently in on the joke.
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Photos by Beyond Photography, MASP and Shifter