Friday, July 29, 2011

The Wonderful World of Eat Bulaga

My love affair with daytime television started in early 1979. In February of that year, my second child- a son, was born. As most nursing mothers, I had to stay home full time. Busy with a one-year old daughter and a newborn son, coupled with all the household chores I had to do by myself, the television became my best friend.

I first got hooked on watching Student Canteen- its third run, actually, then hosted by Eddie Ilarde, Bobby Ledesma, Coney Reyes and Helen Vela on GMA Ch.7. When a new noontime show was launched on RPN9, I became curious. What does the title Rat Bulaga mean? Where in the world did they get it? Stupid me- I read Eat as Rat. The lettering used (known today as font in computer language) confused me. Overjoyed with my own stupidity, I waited for the new show to be launched. I was disappointed. Tito Sotto, Joey De Leon and Vic Sotto had nothing new, interesting and extraordinary to offer then. But fate had intervened to make Eat (Rat) Bulaga the best and the longest-running noontime variety show to date. A rigodon of hosts, mostly females, made it the most talked about show in town. When Coney Reyes joined the show, after her stint with Student Canteen, everyone tuned in. How can I forget her first day when she sang It's My Turn? That was not the first time her singing was much awaited by the show's captive audience. I was so "kilig" when she and Vic Sotto sang Ocean Deep many years later.

A wide array of both male and female hosts came and went through the years. Tv audiences nationwide were treated to a variety of personalities, including those sweet girls with whom host Vic Sotto reportedly had a romantic relationship.But that did not alter Eat Bulaga's stature as an institution on Philippine tv. The show had its share of many downhill battles but always, it managed to triumph over the adversities it had to face. Something or someone, comes in to pull it up higher and higher, like that time when Aiza Seguerra became a mainstay. Every mother had to finish all the chores before noon; every vendor had to be home at 12:00 to have lunch and watch EB; every student had to go eat lunch somewhere where there is a tv set. Everyone went gaga over Aiza and EB. Even when EB was asked to get out by ABSCBN and moved to a more hospitable ground- GMA7, people still followed the show. It was like sugar to ants. There was no stopping Eat Bulaga. Why, I lost count of the number of noontime shows it had destroyed, especially those produced by ABSCBN which wrongly threw it out unceremoniously in 1995. GMA7 welcomed the show with an ad that said "9-2=7". Since then, a mutually rewarding relationship between the network and the EB producers subsisted, which in the long run benefited tv audiences. The likes of the Sexbomb dancers, particularly Rochelle Panganiban, debuted on EB and henceforth became household names. Today, a former all-around boy of the show-Ariel Manalo, aka Jose, brings in the crowds and the sponsors, too, with the assistance of Wally Bayola and Paolo Ballesteros.

There are three things I love about EB. First, the hosts and the staff are very creative, ingenuous and imaginative. Sure there were hits and misses along the way, but the creative juices of its staff kept on flowing. Even during the times when people from the lowest stratum of society held their hopes in noontime shows, a folly created by a rival show which led to many deaths, EB held its ground. It did not base its offerings on what is "uso"- like the endless "pilahan" that competitors erroneously believed translated to ratings. Instead of imitating the many "pakulo" of its strongest competitor (none at present), EB leveled up, so to speak, by bringing itself and its audience to greater heights. As proof of leveling up, EB meticulously chose 30 scholars from all over the country during their 30th anniversary in 2009. Instead of spending for costumes and production numbers, EB chose to spend money, time and effort for the betterment of 30 young lives and their families. What can be nobler than that? In addition, EB has taken as another mission the building of classrooms and donating chairs in the poorest schools in far-flung communities to help ease the conditions of both the teachers and the students in those areas. These are done with the help of the audience who donate whatever they can for the purpose.

Second, EB's main hosts and co-hosts, past or present, are all very talented. Tito Sotto, an actor-politician has played his roles on and off screen to his very best; Vic Sotto, amidst all the romances that blossomed in the show, has always exhibited his gentle ways; Joey de Leon, often misunderstood because of his multi-colored jokes, is good not only on tv but in other fields of art as well, like painting (how I wish I could hang a Joey De Leon on my wall). Aside from that, I hold him in high esteem because, from what I've read, he is one hell of a good husband and father. Even those who tried to hide their talents had their chance to bring them out in the open. They excel not only in one field, but in so many others as well. Take Julia Clarete, for example. She can do drama and comedy; she can dance and sing different musical genres as well. Allan K can do a show all by himself but he is at his best when he works with the EB team. Pauleen Luna is a revelation ( even if she doesn't reply to my tweets). Michael V, oh my God!, is oozing with talent. He must have been reared by saints to be so gifted as he is. Ruby Rodriguez is also a wonder. Who can imagine that she, a horizontally gifted lady, can do a sexy dance which could have been assigned only to an Isa Calzado before? Toni Rose Gayda is a natural comedienne. Pia Guanio is a top caliber host, with a very good command of the English language. Kempee De Leon is his father's son, and that says a lot. The addition of Ryan Agoncillo who is one of the very few with "clean" images in showbiz added much credibility to the already very credible show. Likewise, Anjo Yllana and Jimmy Santos both lend a hand to their co-hosts whenever necessary. The younger triumvirate- Jose, Wally and Paolo- makes people wake up each morning hoping to have a grand time as the trio visits a barangay each day- bringing goodies, fun and laughter to all the households in the country today. Along this line, however, I mourn for the loss of a real genius in the person of Francis Magalona.

Third and last, I love EB because it teaches the value of LOYALTY, not in words but in action. EB's producer, Mr. Antonio Tuviera, Malou-Choa-Fagar and the trio of TVJ have all been together for so long, maybe even before the concept of the show was hatched. Most of its co-hosts have been with the show for many years. In all of its 32 years in existence, I have only heard of one, Toni Gonzaga, who left the show for the so-called greener pasture. Good for her, because doors opened since she left EB, but for others, like Dennis Padilla who boasted that he was offered 15 years by the competitor, they quickly faded into oblivion. The TVJ/Tuviera/Fagar team is one that I idolize. I have never heard a single bad or sad news about how they get along. Their vacations outside the country with all the staff and hosts prove that they are one, happy family. It's no wonder why all other families watching them are always happy.

I have just become a LoLa twelve days ago. When my grandson Jacob is able to watch tv in a few years, I will be there to guide him. Of course tv will not be a priority for a growing up kid, but for him to experience the fun I have been enjoying the past 32 years, I will surely include Eat Bulaga in the list of must-watch shows.
Eat Bulaga. Sweet days ahead!

Photo credit- many thanks...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

LoLa Pretty

Perie Jacob Inocencio Tejada was born via C-section on Monday, July 18, 2011, 7:56am at the Manila Doctors' Hospital.

I am now officially a grandparent. After deliberating with myself, I settled for LoLa as a formal address to be used by, first, my dear Jacob and later by Nad and Ann's first child whom we will welcome in February next year. The next additions to our growing family will likewise use Lolo and Lola when they address us. However, I won't be exhibiting any violent reaction if they decide to call me Lola Pretty instead!

I am amazed at myself for giving up the dreams I so badly prepared for when I was still younger. I believe I deserve a medal for being a very hands on mother to my three children up till now, when two of them has gotten married, and one still looking for the "right" one. Parenting doesn't really end, even in the afterlife. I know that, because to this day, I still ask my father's guidance when i'm at a crossroad. And I promise, I will still look after my children and grandchildren, even when I'm gone. I know I will. I'm sure I will.

But being a grandparent seems a bit scary. The transition from being my children's steward to being a grand steward to my grandchild is quite daunting. This is big time! Now I ask, do I have all the necessary wisdom and experiences to make my grandson's life better than my own, or that of his mother's? Am I at that point where I can make a successful transition from being a parent to being a grandparent? Will the constructive use of ignorance that I utilized when I became a first time parent in 1978 still be valuable and effective now? Will my senses and capabilities still allow me to respond to the unknown relative to being a LoLa?

I wish to become a silent, but attentive LoLa. One who does not interfere with my grandson's parents. Just on the sidelines- giving answers when asked and being receptive to what may happen. I want to be able to draw the line between love and intrusiveness. Most of all, I want to find the appropriate degree of involvement in raising my grandson. And when I do, I will play my role to the fullest.

Sooner or later, my grandson may ask me questions like " Why isn't God married?" or "Why do dogs always chase cats?" and all the many other "whys" in his young mind. When that time comes, I hope I am more than ready, because one thing I promise to do as a LoLa is to never disappoint my apo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Boracay Without The Sun

If money were no object, I would perhaps be having regular trips around the country with the hubby. Maybe once every three months or even more. I've been thinking a lot lately about my failure to release the adventurous genes in me which may have come from my father's bloodline. Sometimes, I feel like it's rather too late now for me and my husband to put on our rubber shoes and go just anywhere and have a good time, feast on the beautiful spots the country has to offer and be professional local tourists. But despite my age and the limitations attendant to aging, my inner being is still raring to go.

To celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this year, the hubby and I flew to Boracay for a four-day breather- from June 18-21, 2011. It was a fitting celebration since the 35th year is the coral anniversary, according to tradition. And where else do corals come from but the sea? The trip was booked by our very loving and generous daughter Timmy as early as February and though we were all set to go, the rains that came in mid-June diminished the excitement. We were thinking, how will Boracay look without the sun? It turned out we didn't have to ask the question- we will find out ourselves- because constant monitoring of the weather situation told us that it will be quite rainy but the low pressure area somewhere in Eastern Visayas (Boracay is in Western Visayas) won't be turning into a storm -yet. So on we hopped on a plane to Caticlan.

We checked into a very modest lodging house, Veli's Inn, mid- afternoon of June 18. It is situated between the main road that cuts Boracay island in two (east and west) and the well known, long, white beach. The rains started coming and so we chose to take a power nap first and planned to explore the island later. By 5pm, the rains stopped so we hit the path to the beach. We were welcomed by the big, dark clouds that spelled heavy rains. Despite the darkness, I felt some kind of excitement. So this is Boracay, I thought. Lovely, even without the sun. We went back to the inn soaking wet, drenched by the rains and not the sea water.

June 19 was a Sunday as well as Father's Day. All our children called to greet their Tatay a happy father's day. Think about blessings that come abundantly. You are having an r&r in paradise and your children call. What more can we ask for? I'm a late riser at home, but whenever I'm away, I find it hard to sleep. So early Sunday morning, we went to the Holy Rosary parish church to hear mass. The fathers were blessed by the priest towards the end of the mass. Afterwards, I went up to the priest, Fr. Placer, as he was preparing to go down from the altar and requested him to bless us for our 35th anniversary the next day. After a little introduction, he gladly blessed me and my husband. He also wished us long years of togetherness, which made me smile, because at the back of my mind, considering every difficulty and adversity that we faced head on, it seemed like 70 years have passed.

Because of the strong winds and the rains, the shores of Boracay was filled with dirt. I understood why there were no cleaning done on the first and second days when the wind was so strong, but when the sun came up on our third and fourth days, we began to wonder. Nevertheless, the dirt, mostly dried seaweeds, did not avert our resolve to swim, nay, dip, into the waters. The best thing about it was that we can freely roam around dripping wet, even in D'Mall.

One good thing about seeing Boracay during the days without the sun is that there are very few people around- much unlike the scenes during the peak months when one can hardly walk without bumping into someone. During those four days, there were many Korean visitors (since there are daily Kalibo-Seoul flights) but only a few of them dared to go into the waters. Bottomline, you have the beach all to yourself. (Incidentally, I learned days later that there is a local campaign in the island for the use of the full name Boracay, instead of Bora, since there is an island in French Polynesia with the same name.)

Going back home, we took a ride to Kalibo Int'l Airport, instead of our way in- Caticlan. We figured that since we're at it, we better try and see some other places in Panay island. Kalibo impressed me as a rather sleepy town, but like Bohol, it is clean all around. We still had a few hours left to explore the city, but upon learning that an earlier flight back to Manila still has a few seats available, we decided to cut our exploration short.

We arrived home around 2:00pm, June 21. After an hour of kuwentuhan with my daughter, I hit the covers at 3pm. I woke up 6am the following day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Class of 39

No, we weren't graduates of the pre-war years. We graduated from the Marcelo H. Del Pilar High School in Malolos, Bulacan in 1970- just when the First Quarter Storm was brewing in the country, just when the world was expressing its disgust over the Vietnam War- the war the US never won.

39 refers to us- the 39 students brought together into one section- IV-1. First, let me make a roll call of the class based on the picture above (with all due respect to the class monitor-Vicky Almazar)- Bulaong, Ibanez, Galang, San Pedro, Santiago, Santos, Mariano, Victorio, Quetua, Cruz, Aldaba, Torres, Paguiligan, Almazar, Adviento, de Guzman, Pascual, Constantino, Capule, Ferrer, San Diego, Tenorio, Toribio, De Guzman, Dela Rama, Enriquez, Clavio, Laquindanum, Clemente, Roque, Gatchalian, Santos, Aguilar, Calalang, Reyes, Mendoza, Martin, Galvez and another Santiago, who is not in the picture.

I figured it would be doubly fun to blog about this class and mention their surnames instead of their first or nicknames. After all, the teachers of yesteryears always did their power trips by calling us with our surnames. I don't know why they did, but what I am sure of is that when I was still in college preparing to become a teacher, I promised myself never to call a student by his/her surname without a Mr. or a Ms. In fact, I am remembered by most of my students as the teacher who calls them with their nicknames. It worked for me.

Our class size is very ideal. Maybe it was the reason why we all did well. The four years we spent together (except for Reby, Cristy and Ester who were with us only from the 2nd to the 4th year) were fun-filled. The anecdotes aren't that clear to me anymore, but what I remember most were the joyful days we had. I sometimes attended school without a preparation for a homework, especially in math and the sciences, but it made me feel secure that the top ten were always ready to open their notes to us (i was not the only lazy bone) just before we entered our classroom. I remember those days when we would wait outside the building for our classes to begin. There was never-ending talk- about teachers, classmates who made boo-boos, about our crushes, about anything we fancied. IV-1 was a very happy class- that much I can say now.

Reunions were organized by the time we reached our 20th graduation anniversary in 1990. A few made it then and in the succeeding class reunions or get-togethers of our section, we tried to make at least a mental list of those whom we haven't heard about. Today, we still don't know the whereabouts of Rolando Aguilar and Cristina Galang. Each time a number of us meet, we would always wish for that one special day when we, all 39 of us, would meet again and reminisce on the things we did from 1966 to 1970.

As different as we were back then, so we still are now. Twelve among us are now based in the US- Angie, Riza, Joji, Louie, Boy, Rene, Frank, Pearlie, Yollie, Nemy, Deyot and Bert. Almost all of them, except for Louie, has gone back home for short visits- an awaited moment for those of us based in the country- for such were the times when we would gather in one space to talk about things we've talked about many times before. New alliances were forged by our circumstances. Reby, Vicky and Vida emerged as the new "triumvirate" since more often than not, they were always on the forefront of each gathering. Emong and Virgie are both working for the same government agency. Virgie and Celia oftentimes attend gatherings together (and leave together) since they both live in Meycauayan. So with Dolly and Norma whose ties with Matimbo are still tightly bound. Ding and Ver, both in business and the practice of their respective professions, plus Emong and Vic, are always present in our soirees. Judge Luis still provides us with merriment and exuberance whenever he dishes out his stories- whether about the past or the present. Ruth, now a lawyer, has been gracing our parties for two years now. So does Paula. Romy V once visited me at home and has gone to a couple of reunions before. Vic is the link between Romy V and the group so that as long as Vic knows where to find him, chances are, he will be another constant in our parties.

Our muses- Angie, Yollie and Beth have not aged despite the years. I surmise that they still are the "crushes ng bayan" till today. Many among us who are still here in Bulacan seldom attend reunions. Nina, a college prof today, and Sonia, who is said to be based in UP, are a no-show in recent years. Vicky Tenorio, we heard, is not in the pink of health. We have not seen Cata and Alice for the longest time. For some time, Quirino and Romy Martin were visible, but have slowly faded away, too. One good news, however, is Fely Roque's presence in our recent assemblies, despite the fact that she, the 40th member of our class, dropped out after 2nd year high school.

As i've stated before, the details of all the things that happened during our four high school years are now hazy and unclear. But I distinctly remember that on the night of our graduation day, after I have shed off my graduation dress, I cried and cried in my room. It was such a lonely and forlorn moment for me knowing that after the two months summer vacation, I won't be donning my high school uniform again and that I will be dealing with another phase of my student life without the 38 classmates with whom I spent the sweetest, most remarkable and fascinating four years of my life.

Looking back on that night, I reckon that my tears fell simply because my journey, together with my 38 classmates in all of those four years, was one hell of a ride.