Why Eat Bulaga remains noontime ‘entertainment staple’ after 42 years

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
Why Eat Bulaga remains noontime âentertainment stapleâ after 42 years
Tito, Vic and Joey with (from left) Ryan Agoncillo, Maine Mendoza, Pauleen Luna-Sotto, Paolo Ballesteros, Allan K and Jose Manalo.
Eat Bulaga Facebook page

Like one’s comfort food, Eat Bulaga (EB) remains a noontime “entertainment staple” among Filipinos, mula Aparri hanggang Jolo, as its theme song goes, and with the promise of “isang libo at isang tuwa” (tons of happiness).

On top of that, the Sen. Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon-headlined show (plus the other Dabarkads hosts) has reached its 42nd year. Eat Bulaga is indeed the country’s longest-running noontime variety show.

“I think it’s more or less because of (knowing) the (viewers’) pulse,” attributed Sen. Tito, also known as Tito Sen, the success of Eat Bulaga to, in a recent virtual press conference that announced the show’s continued partnership with GMA. “…kung ano yung di nila gusto at gusto nila, merong mga portions, mga comic relief na hindi patok at patok.” Such sound judgment has been developed through the years and passed on to people the TV triumvirate would collaborate with.

“Lalo na swerte kami, sapagkat ang nakukuha namin, ang pumapasok sa Eat Bulaga na mga production people, lalo na yung mga writers, eh ang lakas din ng pulso, na-re-read yung mga kababayan natin (We’re also lucky that the production people who have come on board can read what the public wants),” added Tito Sen.

The longest-running noontime variety show, headlined by Sen. Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon, has recently renewed its partnership with GMA. For the past 42 years, it has entertained viewers with a strong public service commitment, as shown in its present and previous segments.
Photos from Eat Bulaga Facebook page

Joey further reflected on what Tito said by adding that, “Well, yung sinasabi ni Tito Sen na pulso, nanduon din yung salitang puso (In knowing the people’s pulse, there’s also the word heart). Nasasakyan namin siguro… ibig sabihin hindi lang kami Kapuso, kauso, kauso rin. Hindi kami nawala sa panahon, sumasabay kami.”

For the past four decades and so, Eat Bulaga has well-adapted itself to the ever-changing TV entertainment landscape, embracing fads and even setting trends. It keeps on offering viewers something new. This explains why the Eat Bulaga mainstays have never thought of being burned out. They have distanced themselves from it.

“Eat Bulaga is my foundation,” said Tito Sen. “Kapag nasa Eat Bulaga ako, feeling ko it gives me new strength, natatawa ako ng matindi (I really get a good laugh).” As cliché as it may sound, laughter is the best medicine. It draws people together, makes them talk and share and helps them forget their cares.

“For us, di uso ang burn out, hindi namin kilala yung salitang yun (it hasn’t crossed our mind),” added Vic. “Dahil siguro enjoy kami sa ginagawa namin, for me, yun ang pinaka-importante (We enjoy what we do and that’s what matters), you enjoy the company of people you’re with, enjoy ka sa mga Dabarkads, araw-araw na nagkikita kayo, nagku-kwentuhan, nag-ka-ka-Maritesan, eh, yun ang malaking bagay kung bakit hindi uso sa amin ang burn out.” After all, watching Eat Bulaga is a fun activity that gathers family and friends, from different age demographics, who follow religiously their favorite segments.

“Nagpapatibay ng aming samahan, ng TVJ and sa mga Dabarkads (It has solidified our friendship),” said Vic. “Kumbaga, parang ito yung pinaka base namin, ito yung pinaka-main base namin, we might be branching out to other (things) like me, I went into production, films, ganun din si Pareng Joey at si Tito Sen, pero babalik at babalik kami sa Eat Bulaga kasi malaking bagay sa buhay namin ang Eat Bulaga.” Tito Sen added a fun fact that TVJ have been together for the past five decades. Their career, which started in 1972, has reached the golden year. Their commitment to bring entertainment for all has never wavered. It has become their fellow hosts’ source of inspiration as well.

GMA execs Annette Gozon-Valdes, Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit Jr., Felipe Yalong, Concie Agnes and Jose Mari Abacan, with TAPE, Inc. execs Antonio Tuviera and Jeny Ferre, and Eat Bulaga hosts Sen. Tito, Vic, Joey, Ryan, Wally Bayola, Allan K., Pauleen Luna-Sotto, Alden Richards, Ryzza Mae Dizon, Jimmy Santos and Jose Manalo during the virtual contract signing.

According to Allan K, TVJ would arrive at the studio ahead of everyone, a constant reminder for the rest to be physically and professionally present, if one may put it. “Iisipin mo na lang, so, ano ang karapatan kong mapagod, etong mga ito, ang tagal, tagal na, alam mo yun inspirasyon pa rin sila talaga,” said he.

“Sa (Eat,) Bulaga, kami (ay) tawa lang nang tawa,” added Wally Bayola. Doing the show, six times a week as fans know, doesn’t feel like work, the hosts agreed. The homey atmosphere pervades the set of Eat Bulaga. This is translated on the screen and felt by people, who lounge in their living room.

Asked how the social media have become boon and bane to their work, Allan K replied: “I think social media ay nakatulong din siyempre sa Eat Bulaga. To us, comedians, it sometimes has become a source for our jokes. For those Dabarkads viewers, who are very busy, because of our posts on social media, they still keep themselves updated.”

Eat Bulaga has appreciated the potential of social media to further engage audiences. The social media “footprints” of its segments can speak for it. Ryan Agoncillo said that the show’s social media team was used to be manned by a person or two, but now it has become a comprehensive endeavor. “Kasi ang dami na ring platform hanggang umabot na nga kami sa kumu,” shared he. “Television is still No. 1 when you want to reach an audience but the social media fill in the gaps,” added he. “Also kami, malaki yung feedback sa amin kasi diretsahan yung palitan ng ideas. I think that’s one of the good things about Eat Bulaga. (It) really evolves and part of its evolution is embracing social media, and learning from it, not just using it as a tool.”

Yes, Eat Bulaga has become tech savvy, but it has remained true to its core. That’s to entertain viewers with a strong public service commitment, as shown in its present and previous segments that provide assistance — either scholarship or livelihood — to the underprivileged.



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