The EBest Awards provides scholarship grants to students who excel academically but whose families could not support their education.
Eat, Bulaga!: Service beyond entertainment
Rica Torres-Rara (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Millions of Filipino viewers worldwide have made it a noontime habit to tune in to Eat, Bulaga! for a dose of fun and entertainment.

For many of them, the variety show is an escape from the stress of daily grind. But for a couple of promising young students whose lives the show has changed over the years, Eat, Bulaga! is their ticket out of poverty.

When Sylvan Dan Moldes, 20, who graduated from elementary school seven years ago, the road ahead didn’t seem very clear for him. Son of a shoemaker, Sylvan’s family did not have enough money to send him to high school — a grim outlook for a consistent honor student.

“Wala po kaming bahay nung mga panahong ‘yon. Sa ilalim lang kami ng tulay nakatira,” recalled Sylvan. “’Yun po kasi yung tambakan ni papa ng mga sapatos na ginawa niya. Meron lang po kaming space na allotted para sa amin kung saan kami natutulog. ‘Yung bubong namin meron lang tarpaulin na nakalatag para kapag umulan di kami ma-anggihan, tapos sa ibabaw noon ay ‘yung mismong tulay na.”

While watching an episode of Eat, Bulaga!, his mother learned that the show was accepting applications for a new scholarship program, Eat Bulaga Excellent Students Awards or EBest.

He did not pass up the chance and filed an application for the scholarship. The young boy was hopeful he’d make the cut, and was overjoyed when he received an invitation from the show.

“Tinawagan ako ng Eat, Bulaga! one day at pinapapunta ako para sa isang episode,” he recalled. “Ang sabi bibigyan lang daw po kami ng award pero wala silang binanggit na scholarship, na ipagpapatuloy ‘yung pagpapa-aral at may allowance. So, pumunta po kami ni papa sa Broadway Studios,” he added.

Sylvan and the 29 others with him that day were announced on national television as the first batch of EBest scholars.

“Nagulat na lang po kami na bukod doon sa binigay nilang plaque, nag-announce sila na bibigyan din po nila kami ng allowance habang kami ay nasa high school. Nagulat po kami kaya lahat kaming scholars, kahit hindi po kami magkakakilala talon lang kami nang talon sa sobrang tuwa namin,” said Sylvan.

Apart from an annual cash assistance for school supplies given at the start of the school year, each scholar also received a monthly allowance.

At Calayo Elementary School, Nasugbu, Batangas…

“Siguro hindi po ako nakapag-aral sa Mandaluyong Science and then sa UP kung hindi ako tinulungan ng Eat, Bulaga! Kasi after Grade 6 feeling hopeless na po talaga ako e kasi tatlo pa kaming (magkakapatid na) nag-aaral at that time,” he said.

Seven years later, Sylvan is now a graduating student at UP Diliman taking up Library and Information Science. Having maintained his high grades since secondary school, he has remained in the roll of scholars of Eat, Bulaga.

EBest scholars Jaydee Lucero and Sylvan Dan Moldes

Nineteen-year-old Jaydee Lucero, now a fourth year Civil Engineering student at UP Diliman, was also among the first batch of EBest scholars.

He initially wanted to become a teacher but later decided he could use his talent better if he took civil engineering. At a young age, he was trained by his mother to develop a routine when it comes to studying, which he carried on until college.

“Nung Grade 3, si mama ko po ‘yung talagang humimok sa akin nang todo upang mag-aral nang mabuti. Ginagawan niya ako ng reviewers tapos ni-re-review niya ako hanggang sa naging habit ko na po ‘yung ganun hanggang nag-high school ako at college,” he shared.

It was not surprising that he had consistently performed well in academics since his elementary years. However, despite his academic performance, his family’s finances stood between him and his dreams. “May mga time na naisip na po ni mama na baka hindi na namin kayanin mag-high school,” recalled Jaydee.

Thanks to Eat, Bulaga EBest program, the young student found hope and a chance for a brighter future. And so, when he became a scholar under the program, he made sure he’d keep it for the long haul.

“Dati ang tingin ko lang sa Eat, Bulaga! is an entertainment show — nagpapasaya, nagpapatawa. Pero nang malaman ko ang tungkol sa EBest, lalo na nung naging scholar ako mismo, doon ko mas na-appreciate ang Eat, Bulaga! Hindi lang pala siya entertainment, pinapahalagahan din nila ang pag-aaral lalo na ng mga katulad ko,” shared Jaydee.

With his determination and hard work, it seems that nothing can stop Jaydee from realizing his dream. A university scholar, he is on his way to clinching his much-deserved diploma — a feat he would have celebrated with his father if only he were alive.

Jaydee’s father, who accompanied him to the Eat, Bulaga! studios the first time he received the scholarship, succumbed to cancer early this year after being diagnosed just a couple of months before.

“Malaki ang pasasalamat ko kay papa dahil sa mga sakripisyo niya noon para maitaguyod ang pag-aaral ko. Sana nakita niya pa akong naging engineer. Pangako ko hindi ko sasayangin ang hirap niya maging ang mga natanggap ko mula sa mga taong tumulong sa akin tulad ng Eat, Bulaga!,” he said.

The EBest Awards was established in 2009, in celebration of the show’s 30th year, to provide scholarship grants to students who excel academically but whose families could not support their education.

At Culis Central Elementary School, Hermosa, Bataan.

Eat, Bulaga! draws inspiration for its social responsibility programs like the EBest Awards from its own humble beginnings.

“We started at the rock bottom. Back then, we didn’t have money to pay for the airing of our show to a point where I had to plead with the station manager to allow us to continue to go on air,” shared Antonio Tuviera, Eat, Bulaga!’s producer.

“When we finally tasted our first sweet success, we gave back to our viewers in one way or another. And we realized that the more we gave, the more we were blessed. And that inspired us to give all the more,” he added.

Aside from EBest, Eat, Bulaga!’s other social responsibility efforts are donation of school supplies to less fortunate students, promotion of environmental awareness through recycling and construction of libraries in public schools.

Isang Lapis, Isang Papel program at Midpandacan Elementary School in Pendatun, Maguindanao…

In 2011, the show launched Isang Lapis, Isang Papel to provide school supplies to underprivileged students in the country. To date, it has collected, packed and distributed more than 30,000 sets of school supplies to approximately 200 schools.

The Plastic ni Juan project encourages viewers to care for the environment by donating used plastics which were recycled into arm chairs for select public schools. As of June this year, 5,250 plastic armchairs have already been turned over by the program to 111 schools.

Then, there’s the AlDub Library which was the fruit of Ang Tamang Panahon, the biggest sold-out show to fill the largest arena in Asia in October 2015. Ticket sales of the event enabled Eat, Bulaga! to construct 10 libraries in public schools in Laguna, Lanao del Norte, Capiz, Pangasinan, Camarines Sur, Davao, Cebu, Zambales, Palawan and Samar.

“One thing which I think contributed greatly to the success of Eat, Bulaga! is our tradition of giving back. It’s no longer just an entertainment show, it has become a public service program masquerading as an entertainment show,” said Sen. Tito Sotto.

“We’re lucky our viewers have allowed us in their homes for 37 years now. Until when? Only time will tell. But for as long as we’re here, we’ll continue to work hard to do good not only in show business but also in the business of doing good,” he added.

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