IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Former ‘Eat Bulaga’ co-hosts you might not know about
Updated 1:25 P.M.
It’s been 44 years since the pilot episode of the original “Eat Bulaga” aired on Radio Philippines Network (RPN), and featured the original lineup of Dabarkads — Tito and Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon or TVJ, with the late comedian Ritchie D’ Horsie and Chiqui Hollman, who has left the entertainment industry.
Setting aside the drama that surrounds the longest-running noontime show since TVJ and their co-hosts parted ways with TAPE Inc. earlier this year, “Eat Bulaga” has undoubtedly inspired, influenced, and even launched the careers of many showbiz personalities, who — in their own ways, after joining the show as co-hosts — have also impacted and helped shape the decades-long journey of the variety show.
Countless Dabarkads have come and gone. Some seem more familiar than others, most likely depending on the generation the viewer belongs to. The names below, regardless of the age factor, may leave someone clueless or surprised to find out that they were once bantering with the comedic trio of TVJ.
Chiqui and Chia Hollman
As earlier mentioned, Chiqui was one of the original hosts of “Eat Bulaga.” The TV host-actress stayed on the variety program for a few years, before transferring to another noontime show, “Student Canteen.” Before the premiere of “Eat Bulaga,” TVJ had appearances on “Student Canteen.”
After the conclusion of “Student Canteen’s” airing on GMA, Chiqui joined its replacement, “Lunch Date,” and served as one of its original hosts along with former senator Orly Mercado, singer Rico J. Puno, and Toni Rose Gayda, who would eventually become a part of “Eat Bulaga.”
After being inactive in the entertainment industry, she surprised the show’s following in 2019, when she participated in the Holy Tuesday episode of the “Eat Bulaga Lenten Special.” The episode, which was entitled “Byaheng Broken Hearted,” featured Paolo Ballesteros, Maine Mendoza, Ruby Rodriguez, and Anjo Yllana, among others.
Chiqui’s daughter, Chia, would eventually follow in her footsteps and briefly join the program starting in 2010. In 2011, she, along with Ciara Sotto, Julia Clarete, Daiana Menezes, and Pauleen Luna, performed a pair of songs as “Eat Bulaga’s” all-girl band. She sang and played the tambourine during the special performance.
Toni Rose Gayda
Gayda would serve as co-host in the noontime variety show, in particular, after “Eat Bulaga’s” move to GMA. She would join the show in the same year as “E.A.T” mainstay Allan K. and late rapper Francis Magalona. Gayda, who is the daughter of actress and Ramon Magsaysay Award recipient Rosa Rosal, would continue to co-host the songwriting competition “A Song of Praise (ASOP)” Music Festival after leaving “Eat Bulaga.”
Competitions in noontime shows have provided exposure to several showbiz hopefuls that has proven to be vital in their entry to the industry. Before “It’s Showtime” launched its kiddie version of a beauty pageant, “Mini Miss U,” “Eat Bulaga,” decades prior, introduced “Little Miss Philippines.” The contest launched the careers of Ice Seguerra, Ryzza Mae Dizon, and former “Eat Bulaga” co-host and child star Lady Lee.
You might have encountered a video of the variety show’s special episode in January 1995, when they held a show in the Araneta Coliseum to mark “Eat Bulaga’s” transfer to the Kapuso network. The little girl beside Seguerra is Lee, whose batchmates in “Little Miss Philippines” include actresses Camille Prats and Maybelyn dela Cruz. Lee, who has not been active in showbusiness, appeared in a number of movies in the 1990s including “Kailan Ka Magiging Akin,” where she got to act alongside Gabby Concepcion, Janice De Belen, Gina Alajar, and Charo Santos-Concio.
Steven Claude Goyong and BJ “Tolits” Forbes
Before the popularity of child star Baeby Baste, “Eat Bulaga” already showcased the talents and charm of several male child performers, mainly through its “That’s My Boy” segment. Among the products of the competition were Steven Claude Goyong — known simply as Goyong — and BJ “Tolits” Forbes. Goyong was a finalist on the segment’s 1998 edition, while Forbes, who is still remembered for starring in commercials for a detergent, competed in 2003. Before the original “Eat Bulaga” transferred to TV5, Goyong experienced working for the noontime show behind the camera — as a floor director, production assistant, and even as a writer. Both former child stars are now married.
In another throwback video posted on “Eat Bulaga’s” YouTube Channel, veteran actress Nova Villa is shown as one of the members of a six-piece musical act, the Eat Bulaga Band, which only utilizes body parts to create sounds. In her case, the “Home Along Da Riles” actress mimicked the sound of a trumpet by humming, while pretending to be playing an actual trumpet.
The footage shown was from August 1990 or during the time when the noontime show had already left RPN and had started airing on the Kapamilya channel. At 76 years old, Villa is still making people laugh as a regular cast member of the Kapuso series “Pepito Manaloto: Tuloy ang Kuwento.”
Through the years, talents honed by comedy bars have successfully transitioned into television personalities. Aside from Allan K., another stand-up comedian who graced the “Eat Bulaga” stage was Nora Aunor impersonator, Dexter Dominguez who is popularly known as Teri Onor. The former Abucay, Bataan vice mayor was a mainstay in the 2000s. The actor-comedian, who appeared in series such as “Dyesebel” and “Darna,” failed to reclaim his seat as vice mayor in the 2022 elections.
Before landing several roles in both Kapuso and Kapamilya dramas in the past 10-15 years, Mickey Ferriols already established herself as a TV host by the early 2000s. While some may remember her for her stint in the Kapamilya noontime shows “Masayang Tanghali Bayan” and its replacement, “MTB Ang Saya Saya,” Ferriols was previously part of “Eat Bulaga.” She started her Dabarkads journey in the late 1990s.
Although her stint as a co-host on “Eat Bulaga” is fairly recent compared to some of the other Dabarkads on the list, some younger viewers might have forgotten that former “Unang Hirit” host Luane Dy joined the TVJ-helmed variety show in 2017. Dy, who married Kapuso actor Carlo Gonzalez in February, also got to showcase her acting chops through the noontime show’s special episodes in line with holy week.
A name that will surely prompt the younger generation to surf the web is that of former beauty queen Rio Diaz. The TV host-actress was part of the “Eat Bulaga” family in the 1990s. She is the sister of award-winning actress and Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz. Her son with former partner, musician Hajji Alejandro, Ali is the husband of another former Dabarkads, singer Lougee Basabas. Diaz married the late congressman Charlie Cojuangco, and the couple would grow their family with the birth of their two children. A former vice mayor of Pontevedra, Negros Occidental, Diaz died in 2004 at the age 45, after years of battling cancer.
Remember the duet and group performances during “Bulagaan”? You might recall hearing then the distinct voice of singer-actor Janno Gibbs, who once was a regular co-host in the 2000s. Known for hits such as “Pinakamagandang Lalaki” and “Fallin,” Gibbs made his noontime show comeback via Net 25’s “Happy Time” in 2020, wherein he got to work with Yllana. Gibbs would, however, be asked to depart from the show following an incident that involved him and co-host Kitkat.
Like Ferriols, model-VJ Cindy Kurleto was also part of the noontime show “Masayang Tanghali Bayan,” which also featured Willie Revillame, John Estrada, and Randy Santiago. But in her case, she would become a Dabarkads after her stint in the Kapamilya variety show. She gave her final performance and said goodbye to the show in 2007. As an actress, Kurleto appeared in both “Encantadia” and “Etheria,” and also acted in the 2020 ABS-CBN drama “Make It with You.” EDV