Without an ounce of irony, TV host Ryan Agoncillo noted that he is as old as the noontime show “Eat Bulaga.”
“I was born in April 1979; the show premiered three months later, in July,” related Ryan, who joined the show two years ago. “My earliest memory of the show is watching child star Aiza Seguerra.”
Former and present cast and crew members attended the recent launch of the coffee table book, “Eat Bulaga: Ang Unang Tatlong Dekada,” at White Space in Makati City.
Allan K, who was a budding comedy-bar performer in the late 1980s, also counted Aiza as a favorite. “I worked nights and usually got home right before dawn, but I would make sure to wake up at noon to catch ‘Eat Bulaga,’” said Allan, who got on board in 1995.
Before Ryan and Allan became part of the “Dabarkads” (the show’s mainstays) “Eat Bulaga” was a daily noontime habit for them—just like generations of televiewers.
The secret of the show’s longevity, noted Aiza, who was present at the launch, is the sense of family it has fostered for the past three decades, not only among the hosts, but also with the viewers.
“Though I now work with other networks, I know that my ‘Eat Bulaga’ family will welcome me anytime,” Aiza said.
Former cohost Chiqui Hollman-Yulo left the show in 1981, but has remained in touch with the “Bulaga” family as well.
“I used to baby-sit Keempee (son of Joey de Leon) and Apples (daughter of Tito Sotto and Helen Gamboa). Now every time I’m in the mall and someone calls out, ‘Tita!’ it will have to be one of the children of Tito, Vic or Joey,” said Chiqui.
The show has outlasted countless rivals (plus three channel changes and at least five Philippine presidents) precisely because of this sense of familiarity and family, said current cohost Julia Clarete.
“We have lunch together every day. From Monday to Saturday, I get to learn from the geniuses of comedy and hosting,” explained Julia.
Malou Choa-Fagar, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Tape, Inc. (producer of “Eat Bulaga”), recounted that people have remained loyal to the show because main hosts Tito, Vic and Joey have remained just as devoted to the program, which is currently aired on GMA 7.
“Even during the tough times—the first 10 years—Tito, Vic and Joey never gave up. Even when we couldn’t pay them, they never complained,” said Malou who started as a production assistant when the show debuted on RPN 9 in 1979.
“We never imagined the program would come this far,” said Tito. “For the past 32 years, it has evolved constantly. From a noontime variety show it has turned into a public-service program.”
“There’s always something new. If someone leaves, someone new joins naman,” Jimmy Santos said.
Not even their sudden departure from ABS-CBN in 1995 and the challenge posed by “Wowowee” from 2005 to 2010 distracted them, said Tito. “We never looked at competition. We focused on our work and how we could constantly improve the show,” he said.
“For me, every day is a new day,” Vic Sotto said. “We went through some really hard times together. That was part of the growing pains.”
The roller-coaster ride that was the past 32 years is chronicled in the book.
Joey, whose son Jako served as book designer, contributed lots of personal photos. The book was written by honorary Dabarkads Butch Francisco.
One black-and-white photograph from the early days, featuring Tito, Vic and Joey, Chiqui and Richie D’Horsey, forming the initials TY (or Thank You), was re-created for the book launch. It was Joey’s idea, Richie said.
Ces Quesada, another former cohost (April to October 1989), said the book is a fun read, and more: “Reading about the show’s beginnings reminded me of my own ‘growing-up’ years in the biz. It’s a valuable reference book for students who are doing research on the history of Philippine television.”
Tony Tuviera, head of Tape Inc., regards the book as a fitting celebration of the show’s journey. “My dream is to build a museum and maybe our own studio in the future,” he said.
For copies, interested parties may call the Tape office, 426-6423 to 28. Proceeds will go to the book drive for students from Typhoon “Pedring”-ravaged areas in Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.
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