LONGEST running noontime variety program “Eat, Bulaga!” marks another milestone this July as it celebrates its 38th year in the entertainment business.
Since the program started almost four decades ago, it has lived up to its promise of providing “isang libo’t isang tuwa” to millions of Filipinos through its fun games, jokes and song and dance numbers.
The show has also become a staple in everyone’s lunchtime habit.
“Eat, Bulaga!’ is simply the extension of our homes,” said Joey de Leon, one of the pillars of the program alongside Tito and Vic Sotto.
The formidable trio was initially tapped by Television and Production Exponents Incorporated (TAPE) boss Antonio Tuviera in 1979 to headline a new program aimed to rival “Student Canteen,” the number one show during that time.
With their knack in comedy and audience appeal, the three were able to turn the tide. “Eat, Bulaga!” eventually dominated the local noontime slot.
“Credit goes to the think tanks of the show, the writers, the staff, and of course our producer, Mr. Tuviera. When we were starting, (I thought) it’s just a new show. I never thought we would reach this far,” said Vic.
Over the years, “Eat, Bulaga!” introduced over 300 segments that reached out to people of all ages. Among the most popular ones are “Little Miss Philippines,” “That’s My Boy,” “Super Sireyna,” “Laban O Bawi,” “Taktak Mo o Takbo,” “Pinoy Henyo,” “Juan for All, All for Juan,” and “Kalyeserye.”
“It was nice to see the segments grow from their humble beginnings to where it is now. It’s such an experience being a part of that helping hand, that is ‘Eat Bulaga!’ but without losing the fun,” said Ryan Agoncillo, one of the current hosts of the program.
Agoncillo, who was born in the same year when “Eat, Bulaga!” premiered, said the program helped artists like him connect to a broader audience through limitless fun and entertainment.
“You feel like you are in their kitchen, in their living rooms everyday and you feel a connection to them. I feel that’s a very special connection with a program like ‘Eat Bulaga!’ It’s a fun that is not exclusive, it’s a fun that does not choose, it is a kind of fun that does not discriminate.”
Vic said they try to make everyone feel like they belong.
“We make sure that they feel comfortable, we make them feel that this is a family and this is not just work. I think that’s one recipe on the success of the show.”
As for Ruby Rodriguez, who has been part of “Eat, Bulaga!” for 26 years, working with the younger generation brings new flavor to the program.
She said having Ryzza Mae Dizon, Baeby Baste, Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza in their pool of talents somehow assures the continuity of what Tito, Vic, and Joey started.
“We are evolving. Even our seniors, we keep up with the times. We learn the millennial language that is so different from what we are used to. It updates you and it keeps you young. That’s the reason we have the younger ones who are being trained to get the hang of things. We try to pass it to them.”
Alden and Maine, dubbed together as AlDub, said they owe much of their success to the program. The latter said the support and love they received from the production team and their co-hosts have been tremendous.
“Hindi lang katrabaho yung turing nila sa iyo kundi parang pamilya talaga. It’s not like working because you are having fun and you are with the people you’re comfortable with,” she said. “Once you’ve been part of this, parang family talaga.”
Alden is also hopeful that he and Maine will still be part of the show for years to come.
“To be part of the longest running noontime program in the Philippines is such a big blessing, hindi kasi lahat nabibigyan ng pagkakataon makatrabaho sila at maswerte ako dahil I also consider them as my family,” he said. “I hope and pray na mas lalong pang tumagal ang programa at mas marami pang mapasayang tao saan mang sulok ng mundo.”
Asked on what’s the secret of the program, Joey attributes it not only to luck, but also to their constant effort to reinvent and be closer to their audience.
He said that at the end of the day, “Eat, Bulaga!” still exists due to the continuous and overwhelming support of their loyal Dabarkads.
“We’ve been through seven presidents and counting. We’ve been to three different networks (RPN 9, ABS-CBN and GMA-7), dapat kasali lagi ang audience. Hindi naming ilalayo ang sarili namin. Dapat connected kami sa masses… sa viewers. Kailangan one of them ka, kailangan maabot ka,” he said.
Vic said that somehow, it doesn’t feel like they’ve been on air for 38 years. He said it’s not like work when you are having fun.
But all the laughter aside, the seasoned host said that they cannot rest on their laurels and there is still a lot of work to be done.
“(The show) makes people happy. It entertains them. There’s always room for improvement. It’s also very satisfying to see people na natulungan at matutulungan ng ‘Eat, Bulaga!’ Sabi nga ni Tito Sen, ‘It’s a public service show in the guise of entertainment”.
This July, expect a fun-filled anniversary month as “Eat, Bulaga!” introduces new and exciting segment featuring beautiful Filipinas and the must-see travel destinations in the country.
Viewers will also be treated to a special second anniversary celebration of AlDub and the much-anticipated reunion of “Kalyeserye”.
Don’t miss the month-long celebration of “Eat, Bulaga!” at noon from Mondays to Saturdays only on GMA-7.