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  • When Eat, Bulaga! premiered at noon of July 30, 1979, it only had four mainstays: Tito, Vic & Joey and Chiqui Hollmann. Af­ter 31 years, the number of on-cam talents who went in and out of the show must now be by the hundreds if you do a head count. Some had been with the show for 22 years: Jimmy Santos and Ruby Rodriguez. There are others, however, who stayed only for a while (like now-TOYM awardee Illac Diaz), but are nevertheless considered part of the Dabarkads, a term coined by the late Fran­cis Magalona.

    Yes, I envy them because they will carry that tag with them forever. If it’s some con­solation for me, I also had my share of spe­cial moments with the program — even if only in guest appearances. Here, bear with me as I recall the instances when I basked in Eat, Bulaga!’s glory: When I joined ABS-CBN as host of Show­biz Lingo on Aug. 16, 1992, Eat, Bulaga! was still airing on Channel 2 (its second home after RPN-9).

    In 1994, I was invited to sit as judge in the grand finals of one of the noontime pro­gram’s beauty searches. I remember this one contestant who was not very tall and not exactly among the fair­est in that batch. I knew she wasn’t going to make it to the Top 5, except that she exuded so much charm and I wanted to reward her for it by pushing for her to win at least one of the special awards. She did get a special prize and it was a mere coincidence that I was asked to come up on stage and hand her the award. I had quite a load in both hands: The sash, a bunch of flowers and a delicate glass tro­phy.

    When her name was called, she was at the very top level of the stage and she had to walk down several steps to claim her priz­es from me. Maybe out of sheer excitement, she missed a step and came tumbling down the multi-tiered stage.

    Everything happened so fast and nobody was able to come to her rescue. Maybe I could have done something, except that I was several meters away from her. Perhaps I should have just dropped everything in my hands to the floor, break the glass trophy and be made to pay for it — and leap to where she was and catch her in my arms. But then, that only happens in the movies.

    For weeks, I felt guilty not having done anything. I merely consoled myself in the fact that, well, at least there was this girl “who fell for me.”
    In 1995, Eat, Bulaga!’s contract with Channel 2 was not renewed and the show moved to GMA 7, which is still its present home. Sometime that year, Eat, Bulaga! lady boss Malou Choa-Fagar invited me to be a guest co-host for a week and I got excited because that was my chance to be part of the gang, no matter how temporary. Of course, ABS-CBN put its foot down be­cause the network had its own noontime show, ‘Sang Linggo nAPO Sila. When I moved to GMA 7 to do Startalk, Eat, Bulaga! became a sister show to us be­cause of that seamless portion that connects both shows every Saturday afternoon.

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