Why it took 8 years to finish the Bulaga! book

STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco -

The Eat, Bulaga! book that was launched only last Thursday at the White Space in Makati City took eight years to finish. But much of those had long dormant moments in between.

Putting the book together would have been easy, except that it took long for us to get data pertaining to the program. Much as the people from Television and Production Exponents (TAPE) were willing to help, they were all busy putting together six days a week of Eat, Bulaga!, plus other satellite shows.

On several instances, we would send the book production coordinator Pia Kraft to Eat, Bulaga!’s Broadway studio to have photos identified, but it would take forever for anyone of them to identify, for example, a photo with former actress Susan Henson in it. There really was no proper TV archiving in this country, which was why it was murder for those involved in putting this book together.

During the launch, I was asked  as the book author  to talk about how we came up with the book, but I had to be cut short due to lack of time and was unable to share some of the details that went into the completion of the Eat, Bulaga! book.

That night I also wanted to thank the people involved in the book project, especially Gigi Sarmenta and business partner Sony Jalandoni for their creative and production services.

On a personal level, I also want to thank my Startalk family and The Philippine STAR, too, especially, my editor Ricky Lo, for allowing me to squeeze in this book project in between those two major preoccupations of mine. (I was also still with Cinema Evaluation Board that time and so thank you, Christine Dayrit.)

And so this was the journey we took as we completed the book of Eat, Bulaga!, which is now on its 32nd year, going on 33rd.

Churning out this book on the history of Eat, Bulaga! was a history in itself. I was approached for this book in the latter part of 2002. TAPE wanted a coffee -table book to commemorate the show’s turning silver.

I accepted the project that time because I can never say no to Eat, Bulaga! boss Mr. Tony Tuviera. He is such a good man that I’m willing to take a bullet for him. I even said that on TV.

For Malou Fagar  I will think about it. I also said that on TV and she heard it. 

Yes, I was hesitant to accept the project because it was never my wish to have a book. I’m probably the only working journalist who doesn’t nurture such dream.

I’m a lazy writer, but writing is the only thing I can do. Had I been given the chance to become another Richard Gutierrez or Dingdong Dantes  why not?

I also harbored doubts  unsure if I was capable of doing a book.

Articles were farmed out to various contributors. Originally, the concept was to have a book intended for academe.

When the manuscripts were submitted, some were brilliantly written, except that these sounded so scholarly even our pesky termites would be bored to tears chewing their way through the pages.

There was also the problem with research. TAPE had no old files on either video or paper. All these drowned during the great flood of 1981.

We had a researcher named Stephen. He scoured the libraries and came back with a bunch of articles written by  me. He went to interview Pepe Pimentel to talk about the history of noontime shows, but the TV legend also pointed toward my direction.

At that point I realized that only three people bothered to seriously write about TV  Nestor Torre, Edmund Sicam and your columnist. This medium, which is so important in modern life, had been ignored unjustly.

It was only then that it dawned on me that I should really proceed writing the book. I had to do it for television where I had my beginnings doing critiques of TV shows and had come full circle getting panned as an on-cam talent.

But more importantly, I had been fully convinced that Eat, Bulaga! deserved a book on its 25th.

And so we soldiered on, but were met along the way by procrastination. Do it after the silver show at the Clark Expo. The affair was hugely successful.

Do it if we win in the Asian TV Awards. It won  most deservedly.

Do it if we get elevated to the Star Awards for TV Hall of Fame. That, too, happened  hurray!

How many more achievements were we waiting for? All the good things just kept coming  knock on wood.

Then Michael Jackson died. Yes, Jacko  that’s Michael Jackson to you  had to die for this book project to get resurrected.

It had to take another Jako  de Leon this time  to get the book jumpstarted again. He works for TAPE and must have seen pile of manuscripts intended for the book gathering dust in the office.

Jako thought  why not come up with something like the Michael Jackson book? I never saw it, but it’s supposed to be easy reading.

We all gathered again and said, to heck with being scholarly. Let’s just have fun.

Fun with photos. But those photos still needed captioning.

I already had an article that I wrote marking the show’s beginnings, but that was only till the 23rd year. We decided to cap the whole thing by the show’s 30th, but still needed to thread in those missing seven years.

That wasn’t easy. The Eat, Bulaga! staff wasn’t always available to provide or even confirm information for us. We can’t blame them. Those people don’t have lives of their own anymore. All they do is for the show and, not surprisingly, those translate into ratings. It’s not all luck. It’s a lot of hard work for them.

When Malou gave birth to her third child, she was so busy she wasn’t even aware that she had been pregnant for nine months. How she ever found time to get naughty with her husband  that needs a full investigation. Call Mike Enriquez!

But given the very hectic schedules of everyone involved in this book, it was a miracle that we managed to call it a wrap by 2010.

This slice of TV history may not be the most accurate. But which one is?

To this day, we are still debating on the extent of Aguinaldo’s involvement in the execution of Bonifacio. Or where was the first Mass in the Philippines really said?

Let us just continue acknowledging the contributions of Eat, Bulaga! to Philippine television and local pop culture as a whole.

And there is no better way of paying homage to it than by coming up with this book that chronicles the story of this underdog of a program that triumphed in the end.

But this is not the end, but the beginning of another 30 years of continued success for the country’s longest running show, Eat, Bulaga!.









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