If you are a true-blood Filipino, there is no reason for you not to smile and get excited at the mention of Eat Bulaga. These two words have carved a special meaning to every Filipino, for it is the name of a television show that has changed many lives and has caused a thousand and one joy to everyone’s heart. This July 2011, the legendary show is celebrating its 32nd anniversary of providing noon-time entertainment and laughter to every Filipino household.
There is no contention that Eat Bulaga is the longest-running noon-time variety show on Philippine TV. Its three decades of reign in the airwaves is witness to several changes in Philippine governance, fashion, media and showbiz trends. Since its inception in July 30, 1979, there had been a lot of other shows from the competing networks that had tried to nab its place from the top spot. As futile and piteous as they seemed, these coups had never become successful and just actually did the opposite–putting the show to a glued throne in the noon-time variety show category. But it still remains inscrutable how such a show gained massive public acceptance and stays unrattled in its place. Is there a secret component or ingredient to all of its prestige? Why can’t other shows defeat it in audience share? Ultimately, why does Eat Bulaga continue to rule?
Obviously, one factor that holds the show together is its setup or “organization.” If you notice, the show is composed of on-screen staff called the hosts and co-hosts, and the accessories called the dancers. In this on-screen staff, there are two tiers: the authority and the entertainers. As what many people can see, Tito, Vic and Joey–the main hosts–are those who serve as the authoritative entities whence respect originates. The off-screen staff, the co-hosts and the dancers are positioned to a different level in the tier, suggestively lower in rank but not in responsibilities and performance. These three heads possess unique characteristics that converge to become the power base of the show. Tito contributes “respect” because of his political achievement, Vic adds “charm,” and Joey supplements “wit”–ingredients that are never found in any imitation show.
The next tier in the setup belongs to the entertainers or co-hosts that make the show progress on a daily basis. These people present and run segments and are sometimes deployed outside to perform certain duties. Sometimes, they assist the main hosts in adding joy to segments and programs. Without the colorful qualities–energy, youth, talent, cheer–that these people give, the show is mangled and incomplete. Imagine how they become part of the jokes sometimes, becoming the laughingstock that produces great fits of laughter to the audience.
Another indispensable component of the show is the accessory–the dancers. These add softness and movement to the show; without the dancers, a variety show will become stiff. Dancers serve as accents in segments, holding props or staying in the background of all the frolic and goings-on.
There is no show in the category that offers new flavors every now and then. Eat Bulaga always showcases new games and gimmicks in order to hook the audience and eliminate the boredom. This is an important strategy because any show that wishes to be alive for a long time has to be innovative and changing. This quality is absent in other shows; they focus much on ineffective segments and risk losing audience percentage. From the beginning, EB has had more than 100 portions, some of them are completely defunct (Kaserola ng Bayan, Sing-Eat, Maid in the Philippines, etc.) while others are recurring (Bulagaan, Bebot, Holy Week Specials, etc.).
Overflowing Prizes and Heart
A factor that attracts audience to the show is the nonpareil splurging of prizes, both monetary and material. The management cares less of how much they give out, as seen presently in the segment One for All, All for Juan: Sugod Bahay sa Barangay. Sponsors also play a crucial role in the amount of prizes spent, such as those that give out millions in a single play-off (Laban o Bawi, Let’s Vault In, Puregold: Dose-dosenang Papremyo). Apart from these, EB helps impoverished people deserving to be helped. Their present “Plastic ni Juan” campaign aims to produce chairs for elementary schools in need of the said facility. There are also unscripted instances when the story of the recipient individuals brings tears not only to the hosts but to the audiences and viewers.
Eat Bulaga is very well-known for portions that have become part of the Filipino culture, including the famous Pinoy Henyo, which is a guessing game that remains to be a hit to viewers. It is also the precursor of some dance steps and crazes (Itaktak Mo, Kagat-labi, Shembot, etc.), the main audience of which are children. Seasonal segments are also produced in order to be up-to-date, and every Saturday, a special presentation is shown as a refresher. Again, all of these things are inimitable.
True to its motto Hanga’t May Bata, May Eat Bulaga, the show is an epitome of what an enduring program must be. No matter how many years pass by, no matter how many host replacements occur, EB will remain in the hearts of all Filipinos. Let us hope that the trio in the show does not retire soon, for it will be a great turnaround for audiences if Tito, Vic and Joey–or even one of them–will be absent in the show for good.