This month marks the 38th anniversary of Philippine television’s longest running show, the noontime variety program of iconic comedians Tito, Vic and Joey, “Eat, Bulaga!”
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 fun games, jokes and song and dance numbers.
A staple in Filipino homes come lunch time, or even at offices for break time, Eat, Bulaga!, as Joey de Leon says, “is simply the extension of our homes.”
De Leon, along with brothers Tito and Vic Sotto, were 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 variety show during that time.
With their knack in comedy and audience appeal, the formidable trio was 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 was just going to be a new show. I never thought we would reach this far,” recalls Vic.
Over the years, Eat, Bulaga! has introduced over 300 segments that reached out to people of all ages. Among the most popular of these 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.”
Vic relates how they always try to make new additions feel like they belong to the show off the bat.
“We make sure 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.”
Asked for the secret of the program, de Leon attributes it not just 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,” the nickname of the show’s loyal followers.
“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 namin ilalayo ang sarili namin. Dapat connected kami sa masses—sa viewers. Kailangan one of them ka, kailangan maabot ka,” he adds.
Vic says that somehow, they hardly feel they have been on air for 38 years already.
“It’s not like work when you are having fun.”
But all the laughter aside, the seasoned host noted 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.”
For the rest of the month, expect a fun-filled anniversary month as Eat, Bulaga! introduces new and exciting segment featuring beautiful Filipinas and 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.
Eat Bulaga! airs weekdays at noon on GMA Network.