IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The conflicting accounts on the ‘Eat Bulaga’ controversy
To borrow from the lyrics of its theme song, “Isang Libo’t Isang Tuwa, buong bansa…, Eat Bulaga!” the longest-running noontime show indeed altered the Filipinos’ lunchtime habit for the past four decades, bringing one thousand and one laughs to every household. But now, it seemed that the entire country — as the song puts it, from Batanes to Jolo — is attuned to what would happen next to the well-loved show and its hosts following the supposed internal conflict among its executives, and hosts.
The issue first erupted as a blind item, and as the days went on, it became more and more muddled. Afterwards, the “Eat Bulaga” mainstays Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon, known as TVJ, gave out clues here and there, until news of “Bulaga” top executive Tony Tuviera getting axed by the Jalosjos family who owns TAPE surfaced. TAPE is the production company that handles the show, of which Tony’s APT is a subsidiary.
“Eat Bulaga” has been through a lot of ups and downs since it premiered and went against the juggernaut “Student Canteen” in 1979.
After 10 years of staying on its home network, RPN Channel 9, “Eat Bulaga” moved to ABS-CBN Channel 2. The noontime program ran with the network for six years until the latter made a new policy, which prompted show producer Tuviera to accept an offer from GMA network. In 1995, “Eat Bulaga” first aired on GMA and has been there ever since.
The early years were rough for the show but it thrived and went on to see its 44 years on air, successfully winning the ratings game, and successfully giving its competition a beating, among them GMA’s “Lunch Date,” “Wowowee,” and its current rival program “It’s Showtime” on ABS-CBN.
As speculations about the future of “Eat Bulaga” circulate, Tito and TAPE executive Bullet Jalosjos opted to address the issues through separate interviews. However, contrasting statements emerged from their tell-alls.
To recap what the public knows about the controversy so far, here are the rumors hounding the show, along with Bullet and Tito’s responses to it.
Rumor: The Jalosjos family has been aiming to take over TAPE Inc. as well as “Eat Bulaga” by removing Tuviera as one of the production company’s executives.
Bullet: There is no takeover happening and their family members’ appointment as part of the production company’s board of directors was a decision made following Tuviera’s retirement. Bullet also pointed out that their family has always been the major stockholder of the production company, adding that Tuviera already “asked to retire” even before the pandemic but former TAPE chairman Romy “begged” Tuviera to stay a little bit longer.
Tito: After years of having no participation in the production and management, he said the Jalosjos family suddenly wants to take over the production of the noontime show and change the company’s “composition.” The former Senate president also noted how he believes Tuviera’s retirement wasn’t of his own accord but because he was “asked” by the Jalosjos family to do so.
Rumor: “Eat Bulaga” will undergo a “rebranding” following the appointment of the Jalosjos family as part of the production company’s board of directors.
Bullet: “It’s not a rebranding. It’s actually a rebonding,” explaining how they are trying to “get involved and immerse themselves” in the company as well as in “Eat Bulaga.” Bullet admitted they had a “difficult time” building a relationship and earning the trust of the production at first, but TVJ assisted them and served as their “guide.”
Tito: “I don’t know what he means by rebonding. Ano ire-rebond mo, samahan? We were there for almost 44 years. Wala naman kaming nakita sa kanila. They never participated,” he stressed. Tito also aired his disappointment as he revealed that the new board of directors were initially “asking everyone to resign, especially the small ones.”
Rumor: There has been bad blood between Tito, Vic, Joey and the Jalosjos family which stemmed from the latter’s supposed takeover of TAPE.
Bullet: Bullet’s dad Romy and TVJ’s relationship is “very good.” Bullet maintained that they are in communication regarding the changes the Jalosjos family wants to happen in the noontime show.
Tito: TVJ and Tuviera have no ill feelings towards the Jalosjos family, but the trio and the show producer are still “trying to get along” with the TAPE executives. “Masama ang loob namin sa nangyayari. Let me just put it that way para hindi naman ako maging offensive,” he noted.
Rumor: TVJ will be kicked out as hosts of “Eat Bulaga.”
Bullet: The Jalosjos family are working toward improving “Eat Bulaga” and although changes and new segments will be observed, TVJ will be “retained” as hosts of the noontime show. To quote Bullet: “[TVJ] has always been a part and will always be a part of ‘Eat Bulaga’ so kahit baliktarin natin, hindi talaga sila pwedeng mawala. ‘Eat Bulaga’ cannot live without TVJ and I think, personally in my opinion also, that TVJ cannot live without ‘Eat Bulaga.”
Tito: TVJ took offense over Bullet’s claim that the trio cannot live without “Eat Bulaga,” when the TV hosts had already made a name for themselves even before they became part of the noontime show. Tito also maintained that TVJ owns “Eat Bulaga” as he disclosed their goal to reach the show’s 50th year anniversary.
Rumor: “Eat Bulaga” is struggling financially.
Bullet: This rumor is not true as they have been able to pay their talents and the GMA network accordingly. The Dapitan mayor also dismissed rumors that Vic has not received his salary for a whole year, as the former assured the public that the noontime show as well as TAPE are “financially stable.”
Tito: TAPE still owes Vic and Joey more than P30 million each in 2022 alone, with Tito disclosing that Vic gets deducted with Value-Added Tax (VAT) even when he does not receive his salary. Tito added that the Jalosjos family told the show production that there are losses in terms of financial aspect, citing it as the reason why there is a need to “reinvent” the noontime show.
Rumor: “Eat Bulaga” will be transferring to another network.
Bullet: “Eat Bulaga” will stay with GMA and the network’s executives were assured of this. Bullet said he has been talking to the executives with regards to the changes they are planning to carry out, clarifying to the public that TAPE’s contract with the network is effective until 2025.
Tito: Bacolod mayor Albee Benitez of Brightlight Productions, whose shows include the recently-concluded noontime program “Tropang LOL” on TV5, has a “good offer” for TVJ. The four of them had a meeting and while Tito opted not to divulge what they had discussed, he noted, “Maganda ang pinag-uusapan namin.”
While we don’t know for sure what the future holds for the noontime show, the status quo gives some semblance of stability. Vic Sotto’s words during his birthday celebration on the show last Saturday, April 30, pretty much summed up their key sentiment over the entire brouhaha: “Isa lang ang message ko ngayong birthday kong ito, eto…” he said, pointing at his red jersey jacket where the letters “TVJ” were printed. The Dabarkads, it seemed, would not give way that easily. EDV