MANILA, Philippines - In 1981, Eat, Bulaga! started a tradition of presenting a Lenten offering that is different from its daily show that viewers see. While the program is variety in format — with games, contests and entertainment numbers — the Lenten treat is a drama offering that is certainly a far cry from the hosts’ usual routine.
It has been eight years since Eat, Bulaga! last presented a Lenten offering. For this year, the noontime show revived its Lenten presentation and offered Hulog ng Langit, six drama stories inspired by the lives of the Juan for All, All for Juan (Bayanihan of the People) segment winners.
The stories were kept short (to accommodate two episodes for the day), inspiring and fast-paced. Some were even tearjerkers. The hosts were cast ideally in every episode, with some taking the lead while others didn’t mind playing support.
Holy Monday kicked off with the episode, Karugtong ng Puso, topbilled by Susan Roces, with Paolo Ballesteros, Ehra Madrigal, Sen. Tito Sotto, Angelu de Leon and Raquel Montesa. Directed by Mark Reyes, the story focused on family, love and forgiveness.
While it was expected that Susan would shine in the story and she did, Paolo gave a convincing portrayal of his role as the adopted son. It was a commendable dramatic turn for Paolo, far from merely clowning around daily on TV or doing drag in most of his roles on the big screen.
The second episode was Ilaw ng Kahapon, directed by Jun Lana. Julia Clarete was given a memorable role as the daughter searching for her mother (Perla Bautista) who abandoned them.
Dennis Trillo was her partner who died prematurely, while Gladys Reyes was her sister who helped her raise her two kids. Rez Cortez was the dad who abused his daughters. Allan K was also in the episode as the gay family friend who helped locate the missing mom.
Holy Tuesday’s Hakbang sa Pangarap, also megged by Lana, had Michael V. and Assunta de Rossi playing a paralytic couple who was able to raise a normal and happy family. Bea Binene was their daughter inspired by an artist, played by Joey de Leon, to pursue her dreams.
Wally Bayola was the erstwhile pickpocket trying to have a clean breast of his life by earning his keep in the small repair shop (owned by Michael V). A scene showing him in tears, contrite and remorseful, somewhat hewed closely to real life, when Wally committed that mistake of being seen in a sex video with a dancer.
Kulungan Kanlungan dramatized sibling love with Maricel Soriano, Pia Guanio, Keempee de Leon, Isabelle Daza and BJ Forbes, directed by Gina Alajar. Pia was given her time to shine as the sister often in argument with her eldest sibling.
The episode was definitely a dramatic challenge for Pia, who is so used to hosting, interviewing or delivering the entertainment news (on GMA 7’s 24 Oras). She welcomed the chance to trade acting prowess opposite a thespian like the award-winning Maricel.
Holy Wednesday’s Anyo ng Pag-ibig was a heartwarming, light drama about a girl (Pauleen Puna) who grew up with no hair and no teeth, but still discovered true love. Ryan Agoncillo played the guy who loved the girl despite her physical imperfections. Dabarkads Jimmy Santos, Ruby Rodriguez and Valerie Weigman played supporting parts.
Directed by Mike Tuviera, the episode probably did not easily move viewers to tears, but its hopeful tone inspired the audience that love indeed happens unexpectedly even to the most unusual individuals.
Pangalawang Bukas saw comedians Vic Sotto, Jose Manalo, Anjo Yllana and even child star Ryzza Mae Dizon rising to the occasion and delivering a dramatic performance in this story of a prodigal’s son spiritual renewal.
When director Bibeth Orteza pointed out that “comedians are good actors,” she wasn’t just merely noting an observation, she was stating a fact. All the lead actors who took on the challenge of doing drama for this episode showed their acting abilities, which definitely did not disappoint viewers.