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Comic in the eye of domestic storm

‘Eat Bulaga’ cohost Jose Manalo still his funny self in recent US shows



JOSE Manalo: Unruffled. Photo by Bayani San Diego Jr.

It’s showbiz unusual for Jose Manalo, the “Eat Bulaga” cohost who is currently embroiled in a family controversy.

His estranged wife, Annalyn, filed a complaint against the comic, who in turn struck back with a lawsuit for a restraining order against her. The cases will proceed after the mediation hearing fell through last week.

Nevertheless, Jose remained unruffled as he appeared in a series of concerts in the United States—starting with the “Eat Bulaga” show at the Cow Palace in Daly City last March 31, which drew 7,000 spectators.

‘Truth or Dare’

After San Francisco, Jose and partner Wally Bayola also held concerts at Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada, on April 1; at Beyond the Stars Palace in Los Angeles, California, on April 2; and at La Boom in New York City on April 5.

In spite of the raging intrigues, Jose was his usual jolly self on- and off-stage.

Right before the show in San Francisco, the comedian played an impromptu spin-the-bottle game with the Manila-based reporters who had joined the Dabarkads on tour. He jested that he would gamely answer any question—provided everything was off-the-record.

It was a different kind of “Truth or Dare”—with Jose dishing out his quick wit with every question.

(In Manila, he unwittingly dodged an ambush interview with a GMA 7 TV crew by landing early at the airport.)

But he later talked to Inquirer Entertainment and became introspective over the success of his concerts. At one point, exhaustion had almost overwhelmed him, he admitted.

What kept him focused despite the many distractions back home?

Na-train kami nang mabuti sa ‘Eat Bulaga,’” he said. “’Yan ang turo sa amin ni Bossing [Vic Sotto]. Kahit na ano’ng problema, ’pag tuntong sa stage dapat masaya muna. Iwas muna sa kalungkutan. Kaya tayo nandito para magpasaya ng mga tao.”

Source of strength

What was the source of his strength? “I always pray for guidance before a show,” he replied.

Jose is thankful that fans here and abroad have remained loyal and understanding despite his personal troubles. He and his “Bulaga” cast mates were mobbed when they had a meet-and-greet session at Seafood City Supermarket in Concord, near San Francisco.

Kahit saan sinusundan kami after the show,” he said. “Mahal na mahal nila ang ‘Eat Bulaga.’”

There was one inspiring incident in New York. “Wally and I got a standing ovation,” he recalled. “Kinilabutan ako.”

Criticism and justification

Jose learned that there had been online criticism about their decision to hold a concert on Maundy Thursday (in the US, which was Good Friday in the Philippines).

At the end of the rowdy show, he expressed his thoughts candidly onstage and was met with rousing applause. He clarified that they didn’t mean to disrespect Holy Week. “Our only aim in traveling all the way to the US was to entertain our kababayans who are homesick. I reminded the audience about the importance of prayers.”

His “Bulaga” bosses constantly push him to stay grounded.

“Bossing Vic always tells me not to do anything that will make us lose the viewers’ trust,” he said. “That’s why our job in ‘All for Juan, Juan for All’ is important. The segment allows us to keep in touch with ordinary Filipinos. Nakakasama at nakakausap namin sila. Dapat lang naman nakikinig ka sa kanila lagi.”


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