‘Goin’ Bulilit’ not for kids, says show creator
Video by Cathy Miranda/INQUIRER.net
The sketch comedy program “Goin’ Bulilit” is not a kiddie show. Program creator Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz repeatedly said so in this multiplatform interview with the Inquirer Group.
“It’s best to be clear: It’s an adult program with children as actors,” Mortiz explained when he visited the PDI office in Makati City recently, along with executive producer Nomie Miraña and child actors Clarence Delgado, Bugoy Drilon and Mutya Orquia.
Mortiz came up with the show in 2005 because, he said, ABS-CBN wanted a program to pit against rival network GMA 7’s gag show “Bubble Gang.” The Kapamilya network didn’t have the right actors for a similar show, he said, so he thought up one with kids instead.
“The show’s edge is its actors,” Mortiz said. “We can do drama, comedy, narratives—even political jokes, because kids deliver them.”
The program, which airs Sundays after “TV Patrol Weekend,” marks its 10th anniversary this month. The celebration began with the airing of an “anniversary gag episode” on Feb. 8 that featured former cast members. The “anniversary reunion,” with old and new actors, aired on Feb. 15. The “Goin’ Bulilit 10th Anniversary Concert,” held at Dolphy Theater on Feb. 11, airs on Feb. 22.
“Doing a show like this in 2005 was not easy,” Mortiz recalled. “We would spend 30 minutes taping, line per line, one gag that would air for just a few seconds. Imagine how long it took to finish 20 gags for every episode. Once we got the hang of it, we worked faster.”
Currently, Miraña said, they have 20 actors—10 girls, 10 boys—the youngest being 4-year-old Alonzo, son of 1970s child star Niño Muhlach. They recently started working with Vito, 5,
son of Vandolph Quizon.
Said Miraña, “They are all very disciplined. When anyone misbehaves—and that’s rare—we just say there’ll be no taping for that one next week. That’s a dreaded punishment; the studio is like one big playground for them.”
Before you arrived, Direk, we asked the kids if you’re nice. Hindi raw.
Delgado (protests): Mabait po [sabi namin]!
Mortiz (laughs): Nahuli ba ng camera ’yun?
The show is 10 years old. Are you happy?
Mortiz: We were just going for one season, or 13 weeks. We never imagined this.
At what age does a cast member “graduate”?
Mortiz: The deal is for them to stay until they’re 13, but sometimes they graduate earlier, especially girls, who develop faster (physically) than boys. These boys (Delgado and Drilon) are lucky; they’re kind of short for their age.
Drilon: Si Clarence po, may boobs!
How do you help kids memorize long lines?
Mortiz: With new actors, we still tape line per line. They eventually get used to it.
Miraña: Work with kids requires patience. Sometimes, Direk loses his cool. He leaves the set for a while.
Mortiz: My sons Frasco and Badji direct “Goin’ Bulilit” now. I only edit, though I still lead the creative team of one head writer, one creative manager and pool writers.
Has the MTRCB (Movie and Television Review and Classification Board) ever called your attention?
Mortiz: We had three meetings last year. We have explained the concept to them: children playing adult roles. They said the kids should understand the roles they are playing. So we
take time to explain to the actors every joke they are asked to deliver. The MTRCB also required us to have a psychologist read and approve every script.
Viewers are a lot more sensitive these days. Some may find a joke funny but a few others will be offended. That’s when it gets problematic. There was this one skit about road rage that we based on a viral video. A man steps out of his car and argues with a taxi driver, who pulls out a knife. We used a toy gun instead and, still, many people reacted [negatively]. In the skit, the gun got bigger and bigger until it was the size of a missile.
We no longer make jokes about bald people because, the MTRCB said, baldness is considered a disability. I argued that, if bald people were disabled, do they get free parking space across the country? We reached an agreement. All is well now.
Is there continued dialogue between your group and the MTRCB?
Mortiz: The program is not as critical as it used to be. Once, at a party, (Bayan secretary general) Renato Reyes congratulated me for airing what he took as a critique on a certain issue. I never thought, until then, that the program had actually become hard-hitting.
You’d rather that it was?
Mortiz: Yes, that was the original idea.
Do you get complaints from viewers?
Miraña: Not a lot. There was one that said we shouldn’t make jokes about adopted kids. On the other hand, a teacher wrote to say her school urged students to watch the show to improve the way they spoke Filipino.
How do you address issues like those?
Mortiz: We avoid any potential issue now.
Doesn’t that stifle creativity?
Mortiz: We’d rather obey than defy [the MTRCB]. There are so many advocacy groups now. For example, we no longer make ngongo (people with cleft palates) jokes.
Who are your most successful graduates?
Mortiz: Kathryn Bernardo, Julia Montes, Miles Ocampo, Ella Cruz, Jane Oineza and, of course, Kiray; Nash Aguas, Igi Boy Flores, CJ Novato … I’m very happy for them, especially because, as persons, they have not changed.
What are your predictions for Clarence and Bugoy?
Mortiz: Clarence will become a good comedian. Bugoy, if he grows taller, will be a heartthrob.
(To the kids) Have you always wanted to be actors?
Delgado: Opo. Gusto ko po maging kagaya ni Direk Bobot.
Drilon: Opo. Kasi po, pag artista ka, maraming nagpapa-picture.
Orquia: Gusto ko po maging katulad ni Ate Sarah Geronimo.
Who are your actor idols?
Drilon: Si Kuya Vhong Navarro po—magaling sumayaw, magpatawa, kumanta at umarte.
Delgado: Si Kuya Lloydie (John Lloyd Cruz) po, kasi magaling umarte at magpatawa.
Orquia: Sina Ate Kim Chiu po at Ate Sarah, kasi magaling sila umarte at magpatawa.
What are the kids’ working schedule?
Miraña: We tape from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every Saturday. An actor assigned a song number rehearses and records on Thursday, at 5 p.m. or after school. Sometimes we have dance rehearsals on Friday, also after school.
Mas masarap ba sa taping kaysa sa school?
Miraña: They’re all enrolled in regular schools. It is a requirement of the Department of Labor and Employment.
So do you get love letters in school?
Delgado: Hindi po, masyado pa po akong bata.
Drilon: OK lang naman po.
Mortiz: Tine-text na lang ngayon!
How do you handle stage parents?
Mortiz: They’re not allowed on the set.
Miraña: If I sense that a parent has attitude, I talk to him/her immediately, explain that the children are all treated the same way … four actors share a dressing room … A stage parent is easy to spot: too many complaints.
Why are parents banned from the set?
Miraña: Some kids forget their lines when a parent is around, or pinandidilatan ng mata ang bata if they run around. We want the kids to act naturally around us so the writers can observe and write better gags for them.
(To the kids) Do you understand the jokes?
Delgado: ’Yong iba lang po. Pag ’di ko gets, tinatanong ko po kay Mommy or Daddy, or kay Tita Nomie.
Drilon: Tinatanong ko po sina Direk Badji or Direk Frasco.
(To Mortiz) Which jokes do they find hard to understand?
Mortiz: Political jokes or current events. They had a hard time, for instance, with our spoof on the Sona.
How do you chose your actors?
Mortiz: We hold auditions. We can spot which child has what it takes and which ones are just being forced by their parents.
How do you reward the kids for a job well done?
Mortiz: We go abroad once a year, all expenses paid. It’s always fun when we go abroad. We’re always a huge group. When we shoot, we leave their parents at the hotel.
Delgado: Marami na po kaming napuntahan—Malaysia, China, Vietnam and Macau. Favorite ko po ang Japan, kasi po may snow.
There are comments that “Goin’ Bulilit” should add segments that inspire kids to go outdoors and play?
Mortiz: We’ve done that. Kids don’t play outdoors anymore because they’re preoccupied with gadgets. In one skit, ginawa naming pamato sa tumbang preso ang iPad.
How about asking children thought-provoking questions?
Mortiz: We’re open to anything —except things that the MTRCB does not allow.
Why don’t we ask the kids one adult question now? Why was Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines important?
Delgado: Kasi po, napasaya niya at na-bless ang mga tao.
Kalokohan question naman: Bakit sa gabi lang tinitinda ang balut?
Drilon: Tulog pa po ang mga tao sa umaga. Maingay po ang nagtitinda.
Delgado: Kasi po, hilaw pa ang itlog sa umaga.
Orquia: O wala pa pong nangingitlog.
Video by Cathy Miranda/INQUIRER.net
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