Bong marks birthday by giving away tablets
Instead of the usual showbiz party, Sen. Bong Revilla makes hundreds of deserving students happy
Bong marks birthday by giving away tablets
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - September 22, 2020 - 12:00am

It’s December in September. On Friday, the 25th of this month (exactly three months to Christmas Day), Sen. Bong Revilla celebrates his 53rd birthday by bringing glad tidings of great joy to hundreds of lucky winners in a raffle for tablets kicked off last Sunday (Sept. 20, deadline for submission of names) and ending tomorrow (Sept. 23). More than 1,500 students receive the gadgets, coming from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao (including National Capital Region/NCR).

“It’s a refreshing new way of celebrating a milestone in your life,” Bong told 18 journalists in a Zoom presscon last Friday. “Ibang klaseng satisfaction ang nararamdaman mo,” added Bong who spent several birthdays during his “staycation” at Camp Crame and last year for the first time with his family after his release. “A randomizer will pick out the winning names.”

The idea, part of Bong’s program Kaalaman Ating Palawakin (KAP, as a nod to his former GMA show, Kap’s Amazing Stories), started with only 300 tablets until friends like Puregold, Rebisco and Regal Matriarch Mother Lily (donated 100 pieces) started chipping in.

“The winners will find the tablets very useful, especially during the alternative (online) way of learning,” said Bong. “Filipinos abroad, including OFWs, were qualified to join and they may give the tablets to their children here. The tablets will be delivered door-to-door by ToGo. Those who didn’t make it to the Sept. 20 deadline should not worry. They will get ‘surprise’ consolation prizes.”

Bong has a lot to be thankful for. He has just survived COVID-19, one of the senators (others were Migs Zubiri, Koko Pimentel and Sonny Angara) who contracted the virus. Bong had to stay at the ICU after he showed symptoms of pneumonia and had to be quarantined for 14 days.

Sen. Bong Revilla during a Zoom presscon last Friday, showing one of the 1,500 tablets he’s raffling off as part of his Kaalaman Ating Palawakin (KAP) program

“That was the hardest part,” admitted Bong, “being away from the family. The important reminder to everybody is that if you have been near somebody who is positive, even if you don’t have symptoms (asymptomatic), don’t be in denial, huwag mahiya magsabi para hindi ka makahawa. The virus spreads a domino effect. It travels to people around you.”

Although fully recovered, Bong said that he has become more careful, taking more vitamins (and supplements) and exercising.

“I used to work out two hours every day, but now one hour is good enough. Ayokong puwersahin ang katawan ko; little by little muna. And I make sure that I get enough sunlight (for Vitamin D) to strengthen my immune system.”

Working from home (WFH), Bong has gotten used to doing Zoom (he has a daily “live” streaming) while attending sessions. He happily reported that since he returned to the Senate in July last year, he has filed 323 bills and resolutions (19 on second reading, 36 adapted resolutions and eight passed into law).

Among them: Salary Standardization Law of 2019 (RA 11463); Bayanihan to Heal As one Act Malasakit Center (RA 11463); National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims, Survivors and their families; Postponement of the SK and Barangay Elections (RA 11462); and Anti-Terrorism, Sports Academy and Values Education. On third reading: Night Shift Differential Pay; Fixing the Validity Period of the License to Own, Permit to Carry and Registration of Firearms, Amending Acts 183 and 184 of RA 3815 (Revised Penal Code); National Transportation Safety Board Act; Organic Agriculture Act; Alternative Learning System Act; Doktor Para sa Bayan Act; National Cooperative Month; and PNP, BJMP and BUCOR Height Equality Act.

But what worries Bong is the fate of the movie industry. Told that some theaters in the US and Canada have recently reopened to limited audiences, he doubted if that would work in the Philippines due to the social-distancing protocol, never mind if people were made to sit four or five seats apart.

Siempre, people are afraid of getting infected by the virus,” explained Bong, in the next breath citing the risks of the so-called “new normal” way of shooting or taping. “If a member of the cast or the crew gets infected, tigil ang siyuting. Maraming risks. Nakakalungkot ang nangyayari ngayon sa lahat, kasama na ang movie industry.”

Former Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez in one of the attractions of Magikland, a theme park he built in Bacolod City: Ready to take off as TV block-timer

Philippine television is alive and kicking

Contrary to what you think, the pandemic has not totally halted the Philippine TV industry even if ABS-CBN has been shut down (and its frequencies suspended). In fact, the Kapamilya Network has resumed shooting rudely-interrupted shows and has started new ones and GMA Kapuso Network has started bringing back all its shows. According to Funfare sources, Kapamilya stars might resurface “somewhere else” as a blocktimer.

Clue: The channel is between 10 and 15.

Meanwhile, TV5 Kapatid Network is attracting more and more viewers.

Personally, as a relief from depressing news about the virus, I have switched to watching “light” shows on TV5 like Fill in The Bank (with Pokwang and Jose Manalo, MWF) and Bawal Na Game Show (with Paolo Ballesteros and Wally Bayola, T-TH-S) weeknights from 7:30 to 8:30 after the newscast. Try watching them to lighten your day before bedtime. Those and other shows and produced by block-timer Antonio “Mr. T.” Tuviera.

Another big-time Kapatid block-timer ready to come in is former Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez with his Brightlight Productions. Albee hasn’t confirmed it but according to a Kapatid informer, six shows have already been approved, namely: a sitcom titled Oh My Dad starring Gloria Diaz, Ian Veneracion, Dimples Romana, Sue Ramirez and Ariel Ureta; a daily noontime show called Laugh Out Loud (LOL) to be hosted by Billy Crawford, Bayani Agbayani, K Brosas and Wacky Kiray, to be directed by Johnny “Mr. M” Manahan; the magazine show Rated K hosted by Korina Sanchez (said to have a “strong clout” at TV5); a gag show (Sunday Kada Kada Sunday) directed by Edgar Mortiz; I Got You, a teleserye starring Beauty Gonzales, Jane Oineza and RK Bagatsing; and a noontime Sunday show to be hosted by Piolo Pascual and Catriona Gray.

Wow, a powerhouse line-up!

As they say, the show must go on!!!

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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