Pilipinas, game ka pa ba?
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo () - January 10, 2009 - 12:00am

Thank heavens, the game is not over!

Toward the end of last year, rumors spread that Edu Manzano was quitting as host of the ABS-CBN game show Pilipinas, Game KNB? which he inherited from Kris Aquino two years ago. Edu fitted the job to a T, injecting a new kind of excitement into it with his own brand of wit and humor. So why was he quitting when he’s doing very well and the show is enjoying good ratings?

Happily, the rumor turned out to be a dud.

Pilipinas, game ka pa ba?

Yes, the whole country (and subscribers to The Filipino Channel, TFC) are — and so is Edu.

“It wasn’t as controversial as what people were made to believe,” said Edu. “My contract has expired and I wasn’t able to renew it because I was waiting for my manager (June Torrejon) who is in the hospital.”

The episode in which the game was supposed to have been “rigged” in favor of contestant director Wenn Deramas was aired just the same to prove that no hanky-panky happened.

PGKNB? won the Best Game Show award and Edu Best Game Show Host in the 2008 Star Awards for TV of the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC), as well as the Anak TV Seal Award as one of the Most Liked TV Programs on Philippine Television.

But the false rumor was nothing compared to the death threats Edu has been getting in connection with his being chief of the Optical Media Board (OMB) which is doing a good job so far, never mind if it’s operating on a tight budget and posing imminent danger to the life and limbs of Edu and his men.

“Death threats have become part of my diet,” Edu joked who saw to it that in the just-concluded Metro Manila Film Festival, not one of the seven entries was pirated (check out the outlets of pirated tapes and no copy is available up to now). “The OMB has created the MMFF as early as first week of December last year. In 2007, not a single entry was pirated within a month after the Metrofest and the Film Development Council of the Philippines reported a 40 percent increase in gross revenues of Filipino movies, thanks also to the cooperation and assistance of the legitimate retailers and the right holders.”

Edu stopped doing movies when he assumed office as OMB chief, a demanding job unlike any other, requiring Edu and his team to conduct raids anytime of day and night as soon as the entrapment is set.

But he might resume doing movies since he’s inclined to accept a “special role” as his ex-wife Vilma Santos’ husband in the Star Cinema movie (untitled just yet) which also stars their son Luis/Lucky Manzano and John Lloyd Cruz. (John Lloyd and Luis play lovers.)

“It’s nice because the three of us haven’t done a movie together,” said Edu.

You wonder, how does Edu manage his time with so many things to do?

Monday to Friday, we take our breakfast while watching him on the ABS-CBN early-morning show Umagang Kay Ganda (which he co-hosts with, among others, his girlfriend Pinky Webb) and take our dinner also by watching him on PGKNB?.

It’s hard, said Edu.

He turns in before midnight and wakes up at 3:30 a.m. to be at the studio at 4:45 at the latest for UKG which starts at 5:30 a.m. and, as soon as the show ends at 8:30, hies off to the OMB office nearby. Breakfast is always quick (a cup of coffee and wheat bread, unbuttered) and lunch is often taken way past noontime. Then, he tapes for PGKNB?. He never eats on time.

“It’s tiring but I don’t show it on TV,” admitted Edu who once suffered from sleep deprivation that required treatment and therapy. “Kung ‘yung mas bata sa akin nga napapagod, ako pa kaya?”

Once, his teenage daughter told him, “Dad, I don’t see you anymore!” and that pricked Edu’s conscience.

“That broke my heart; I cried.”

Since then, Edu has been spending precious time with his two other kids, Amanda Danielle (Addie,15) and Lorenzo Eduardo (Enzo,14). Luis is 27.

“That’s what I realized and what I enjoyed the most — just talking to them,” said Edu, adding, “yes, I’m a good father. Addie and Enzo are turning out to be good children just like Luis. I haven’t stopped saying ‘I love you’ to my children. My dad never stopped saying ‘I love you’ to me even when I became a father myself. There’s nothing embarrassing about saying ‘I love you,’ is there? It doesn’t take anything from you.”

Asked what his plans are for 2009 and 2010, Edu simply smiled.

Has he proposed marriage to Pinky?

No comment.

Is he running in the 2010 elections and for what position?

Edu broke into a meaningful smile.

If and when he quits his job not as PGKNB? host but as OMB chief, then we will know Edu is up to.

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph or at entphilstar@yahoo.com)

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