Analysis: Why 'Eat Bulaga!' name should go with TVJ, not TAPE

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo - Philstar.com
Analysis: Why 'Eat Bulaga!' name should go with TVJ, not TAPE
"Eat Bulaga" original hosts Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon
"Eat Bulaga" / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Whoever legally owns “Eat Bulaga!,” many Filipino viewers would surely agree that the highly contested noontime show title should go with its original hosts Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto or Joey de Leon, or TVJ, wherever they may be.

Here’s why, from a nearly four-decade viewer’s POV (point of view):

Why couldn’t TAPE just think of a new show name? 

Why is Television and Production Exponents Inc. (TAPE) Inc. unable to change the show’s title despite the fact that according to Tito, 95% of its workforce has gone with them to TV5? Is this because of a lack in creativity in thinking of a new name? Are they holding on to the title for pride of winning over showbiz industry legends? Or for easier selling to advertisers?

Since GMA, in a statement, already said that although it has been the home of "Eat Bulaga!" for many years, TAPE still has a block time contract with them for a noontime show, and if interpretation of the statement is right, this show not necessarily should be titled “Eat Bulaga!” 

Related: GMA surprised by 'Eat Bulaga' departure, says TAPE has block time deal until 2024

Philstar.com has reached out to GMA and is awaiting for clarification on the block time deal.

People would be more forgiving and give new hosts a chance

Bashing for TAPE’s new noontime show hosts Paolo Contis, Betong Sumaya and Buboy Villar, among others, would presumably diminish or stop should the producer change its show’s title. 

Related: ‘Yung bashing expected naman’: Paolo Contis hopes public gives new ‘Eat Bulaga’ hosts a chance

Rather than hate, the new hosts, who are actually no longer new or are already familiar faces, would pique curiosity and would be given a chance to make the show uniquely their own, rather than just following the “Eat Bulaga!” template everyone grew up with. 

The new hosts cannot play the "trabaho lang, walang personalan" card to stop public criticism because for many Filipinos, respect and integrity are more important than livelihood. We have this saying that you can always make money, but once trust is lost, that's harder to find. In the case of the new hosts, their mere existence there using the "Eat Bulaga!" name is already a sign of disrespect to the "nakakatanda" or to TVJ, who are the institutions who built the name the new hosts are capitalizing on.

Related: Buboy Villar reportedly not leaving 'Eat Bulaga' despite bashing, cheating allegations

TVJ carries with them ‘Eat Bulaga!’ segments

Even if TAPE retains “Eat Bulaga!,” Tito already said that the show’s popular segments such as “Bawal Judgmental,” “Pinoy Henyo” and “Juan for All” are coming with them in the new TV5 show, and what is “Eat Bulaga!” without these segments that have amassed a following of their own?

People would be very confused, but still, they’d follow the segments to where TVJ are and just turn a blind eye on TVJ’s new show title, if it would not be “Eat Bulaga!” After all, a show’s title just comes in the opening, closing and in between commercial breaks, which merely cue the viewers to take their lunch or run to the toilet.

TVJ is already cemented on the ‘Eat Bulaga!’ brand

For many Filipino viewers, it's common sense that TVJ is "Eat Bulaga!" — period. Therefore, for many, TVJ’s hosting of “Eat Bulaga!” is to the death. Filipinos are very idealistic, they scorn third parties and idealize ‘til death do us part, so for many of them, TVJ is married to “Eat Bulaga!” and replacing them with just anyone just doesn’t seem right especially if they are still all together and alive.

What’s the use of holding on to a title that has been associated with TVJ for 44 years and counting? At least four generations of Filipinos cannot erase the TVJ memory in “Eat Bulaga!” overnight — they are not only noontime show hosts who can be replaced with anyone upcoming or famous because the trio, whether TAPE likes it or not, is already part of Philippine history etched into Filipinos’ nostalgia and important life events. Every day, we grew up singing the Joey de Leon-composed "Isang libo, isang tuwa" theme song, and most of us even debated in school if the Philippines really spans from Aparri to Jolo.

The same goes for their co-hosts or Dabarkads like Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, Allan K, Maine Mendoza, Paolo Ballesteros and Ryan Agoncillo, among others. They are not just any hosts one can pull out anytime for cost-cutting measures because they are not just there to hold the mic. One cannot put a price tag on their loyalty, natural chemistry and genuine love for each other and their audience, which are the ones that make “Eat Bulaga!” rate highly all these years. People watch “Eat Bulaga!” not just because they are fans of the Dabarkads; it’s because the Dabarkads make their day and make them feel like they belong with their relatable banters, “hugot,” and how they are genuinely concerned with the contestants they interview. For many of these contestants, being in "Eat Bulaga!" could even be the happiest and most memorable day of their lives.

“Eat Bulaga!” is not a show that can be rewritten with just the change of hosts. Experimenting with new hosts and program formats could tamper people's emotions. Filipinos broke bread and cried with the Dabarkads in their Lenten drama specials, and invested hopes, dreams and heartaches on the program and the many stars it gave birth to like Ice Seguerra, AlDub and the SexBomb Girls, who have become Pinoy pop culture phenomena in their own right and these cannot be denied from everyone's collective memory.

Continuing to use ‘Eat Bulaga’ could be a sign of oppression

If TAPE were to retain the name, it could result in public sympathy to continue pouring to TVJ and Dabarkads, who many viewers see to be the victims here since they are the ones who went to work but were not allowed to go on-air last May 31, and since they are the ones who initially broke their silence about TAPE not paying their salaries.

Related: Vic Sotto, Tito Sotto, Joey de Leon announce 'Eat Bulaga!' departure from TAPE, to move to TV5 — source

Again, many Filipinos can relate and fall into this real-life employer-employee drama and who do you think they would emphatize with — TVJ who laughed and cried with them for 44 years, or the company owned by a convicted child rapist? Just as many Filipinos cannot forget TVJ's association with "Eat Bulaga!," so could they not brush aside the fact that TAPE is owned by Romeo Jalosjos, who has long been pictured as an antagonist since he was found "guilty beyond reasonable doubt" for two counts of statutory rape of an 11-year-old. For many Filipinos, TVJ's departure from Jalosjos' TAPE is even good riddance given Jalosjos' tainted reputation.

Related: 'Life must go on': TAPE issues statement on departure of 'Eat Bulaga' hosts

From their personal styles to their hairstyles, jokes and even controversies — TVJ and the Dabarkads are integral to Filipino pop culture. They’ve starred in some movies together and recorded hits, but people still know them best as the forces behind “Eat Bulaga!,” so to separate the title from them is like torturing them by pulling off a body part or estranging them from a family member, since they have become part of everyday Filipino household habit and even an extension of every Filipino family.

RELATED: 'TVJ impossible to replace' — TAPE's Bullet, Jon Jalosjos on 'Eat Bulaga' hosts

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