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Wally Bayola.  PHOTO BY ARNOLD ALMACEN

Wally (left) and Jose dancing during the PDI 27th anniversary ARNOLD ALMACEN

Comedians Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola admitted that hosting the popular segment “Juan for All, All for Juan” in the game show “Eat Bulaga” has exposed them to harsh realities and made them much more grateful for what they have.

“Juan for All, All for Juan: Bayanihan of d’ Pipol,” currently the most popular segment in the noontime Kapuso program, brings Jose, Wally and Paolo Ballesteros to different barangays (villages) in Metro Manila, where they hand out food and cash prizes.

Through the segment, Jose has seen possibly the worst living conditions. “We’ve been to a house with a ceiling that was so low, it felt like we were in a box. We sat on the floor the whole segment; it was painful on my back,” he recalled. “There were houses where the stench was unbearable. We couldn’t express our discomfort as the homeowners would be offended.”

Wally recalled going to a house whose only entrance was a public washroom. “Comedy talaga ’yon. However, we never looked down on these people or pitied them. Seeing their situation really made us feel more thankful for our own individual homes.”

Jose Manalo

He said he felt honored whenever people shared their stories with him. “They tell me how hard they try to make do with the little money that they earn. I admire them for their resilience. Some people I know would have given up.”

Jose was sure he was picked to cohost the segment because, growing up, he knew what it was like to live on the street. “At first, I would teach Wally and Paolo how to react to people in certain situations. I said if they behaved like celebrities, their audience would not feel comfortable. If you are sincerely grateful that they welcomed you into their homes, they’ll feel more at ease around you.”

It’s also prudent to dress simply and accordingly, Jose said. “I just wear a T-shirt and shorts. I’m more effective that way—when people think of me as their equal. I’ve also learned patience and tolerance. Sometimes people shout insults at us; I just ignore them.”

Despite being separated from his wife and kids, Jose said he had nothing more to wish for. “I’m okay kung ano lang ang dumating sa buhay ko. I just accept the situation I’m in and quietly try to find a solution to my problems. I know that they all come to make me strong. I keep the faith that, whatever happens, maaayos ang lahat.”

Both Jose and Wally consider veteran comedian and TV host Vic Sotto as big brother and mentor. “He never tires of giving me advice. I guess Bossing (Vic’s nickname) knows me very well—or he would have given up on me a long time ago. He understands me. He knows how hard I work to secure my future.”

Wally Bayola PHOTO BY ARNOLD ALMACEN

Jose added: “Bossing is very approachable. He sometimes gives us bonuses, but I refuse to accept. I always tell him, ‘You took care of me when I was at my lowest point. You don’t have to give me more than I work for.”

Wally said he always goes to Vic for answers to “personal questions, or career issues.” He added: “Bossing’s weakness is good food. He always asks me to cook something for him.”

The Jose and Wally tandem is the hottest in the biz today. Wally insisted that there was never any professional jealousy between them. “We’ve been friends for a very long time. I have so much respect for Jose if only because he joined this business way ahead of me. I regularly ask him for pointers.”

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