I would like to thank Roxy Liquigan, my mentor; Deo Endrinal, my discoverer; and Biboy Arboleda, my manager.
This is an excerpt of my supposed speech in the recently-concluded 2003 Aliw Awards where I was nominated for the Best Male Stand-Up Comedian. I remember writing that speech on a tissue paper. Obviously, I didn’t win.
One could never endure in the cutthroat industry of show business alone. I, for one, owe whatever success I am now enjoying to a lot of people. One person who has consistently helped me in my career is Deo Endrinal. Showbiz insiders know Deo as a top ABS-CBN Executive (Senior VP for talk/variety). For me, however, he is more than a colleague. He is my friend.
In May 1993, barely two months after graduating from UST where I majored in Hotel and Restaurant Management, my friends Louie Andrada and Roxy Liquigan visited me at home to ask if I wanted to join a gay beauty contest and if I already had a job. They are my friends from Teatro Tomasino who are already working in ABS-CBN at that time. Roxy was segment producer and Louie was a researcher for the newly-opened Showbiz Lingo. They informed me that their executive producer, Deo, was looking for a new researcher. That was the first time I heard Deo’s name.
Nineteen-year-old me went to the old production office of ABS-CBN on May 17, 1993. The next day, I won third runner-up and Ms. Talent in Ms. Gay Botocan in Project 2. I was to have my first ever job interview. I was dressed to kill in my trousers and long-sleeved shirt with my five-page resumé. When I reached ABS I felt so stupid because most production staffers were wearing shorts, sleeveless tops and maong and I even saw one wearing a fur coat. I was told to wait for Deo to arrive at his table near the Xerox machine of the Executive Area.
Then Deo entered. It was the very first time I saw him. "So this is Deo," I told myself. Even then he had a powerful presence and personality. When he sat at his table, he asked me, "Sino ka?" I told him, "I am John Lapus, a friend of Roxy and Louie." He got my resumé and flipped it casually.
Then he said, "Rekomendado ka naman ng mga bakla kaya magsimula ka na at um-attend ka ng meeting mamaya (since the gays recommended you, you may start right away and attend the meeting later)." I was hired on the spot. The deal was I needed to go through a two-month training with a transportation allowance for compensation before getting my actual salary as a researcher. And that was it. Deo became my very first boss.
He was so impressed with my output that he decided to give me the regular salary of a researcher in my second week at work. He even asked me to appear in some segments of Showbiz Lingo. A popular segment that we did was similar to the Stop Me! segment on the Buzz. We would attend awards night and make fun of stars and their outfits. We also had a blind item segment in which the audience could only read our lips. Deo saw my potential in doing comedic acts that I eventually became an on-cam talent.
Deo also gave me extra gigs on the Sunday morning game show Ready, Get Set, Go! (hosted by Eric Quizon, Michael V, Eula Valdez and Eagle) where he was one of the creative consultants.
One time, ABS-CBN was brewing a new afternoon showbiz talk show for Cristy Fermin. Deo was the Supervising Producer of Cristy Perminute and management was looking for fresh faces to co-host the show. Ogie Diaz, Gia Garchitorena and I got the job.
When I resigned from Cristy Perminute, Deo got me as a regular co-host for Showbiz Lingo where I became a Segment Producer and eventually a creative specialist. He thought of another fabulous idea and he wanted me to do it for the show. Live teasers! I cued commercials, introduced stars and VJ’s on the next gap of the show. I still do the live teasers up to this day on ASAP Mania.
When Deo went to the US and watched Oprah, he learned that before Oprah goes on air, an African-American gay comic would do stand-up comedy to pep up the live audience before the show. They called that artist the audience jester.
When Today with Kris Aquino went on air, Deo asked me to be the very first audience jester in Pinoy TV.
When The Buzz replaced Showbiz Lingo, management wanted new faces to co-host with Boy Abunda. Since I was jobless, Deo made me the Creative Associate Producer for The Buzz. It was at that time that I got movie offers, live show gigs and TV guestings. Biboy Arboleda was already managing me at that time. This was when my three Fairy Godmothers talked to me and made me choose between a career as a full-time artist and my work in TV production. With their guidance I decided to pursue my career as an actor.
Biboy and I accepted all sorts of projects – fiestas, ribbon cuttings, weddings, mall tours, corporate launches and other live shows. Early 2000, I guested on The Buzz to promote a show. Maybe I was so funny or beautiful that Deo and Roxy made me a regular co-host of The Buzz to this day.
For my birthday show that year at Chatterbox Galleria, Biboy thought of giving me a title, "The Universal Sweet." "Sweet" is really my pseudonym and it was my name in that year’s box-office movie Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw (Regine Velasquez and Robin Padilla starrer). Deo and Roxy agreed with Biboy’s idea. Deo even offered his restaurant Cilantro in Tomas Morato as the venue to launch my birthday show and new title. Sadly, both Chatterbox and Cilantro are now closed.
Deo’s birthday is Nov. 8. It’s the first birthday of Deo in 10 years that I wasn’t here. I was in Toronto where I did a show on Nov. 7 with Aiza Seguerra and Carol Banawa and a solo show in Vancouver on Nov. 9. But I made it to Deo’s birthday bash Wednesday night, Nov. 12 at The Elbow Room of The Podium in Ortigas Center. Dedma sa jetlag!
I will forever be grateful to Deo for all the encouragement and help he gave me. He believes in me. I hope everyone will be half as lucky as I am for having the coolest, most understanding and ever-supportive friend like him. One thing is absolutely certain – a lifetime is not enough to show Deo my eternal gratitude for all the kindness he showed me all these years. And honestly, Deo looks younger than his actual age.
Psst Deo, pwede na bang birthday gift ito?