The Butcher | The Eat Bulaga takeover was bound to happen

Whatever is the outcome of the Eat Bulaga takeover will definitely change the current landscape of Philippine television in a major way.

Whatever is the outcome of the Eat Bulaga takeover will definitely change the current landscape of Philippine television in a major way.

In the public mind, there had always been confusion with regard to the ownership of Eat Bulaga. For decades, a lot of people believed this noontime show was produced by Tito and Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon – collectively known as Tito, Vic and Joey or TVJ.     

To the more observant, the name Antonio P. Tuviera is no stranger as a top honcho in TAPE – short for Television and Production Exponents, Inc. Malou Choa-Fagar had always been another TAPE official closely identified with Eat Bulaga.

This week’s major controversy about TVJ and Tuviera getting kicked out of the program has brought in another name: Romeo Jalosjos.    

A businessman and politician, Jalosjos made headlines in 1997 after he was jailed for statutory rape involving an 11-year old girl. He was released from prison in 2009.  

But as early as the mid-1960s, showbiz observers were already familiar with his name. There was his involvement as the common-law husband of the late Nida Blanca, who was earlier married to Victorino “Ruth” Torres, the father of erstwhile actress Kaye Torres.     

After Nida was slain, Jalosjos so kindly and generously turned over to Kaye the White Plains house that was home to the actress for four decades. Jalosjos had always treated Kaye like his own daughter.     

Jalosjos was also romantically involved with dancer-choreographer Amelia Apolinario. After EDSA I, he married singer Lourna Pal.     

But who really is Romeo Jalosjos?     

Good-looking enough to be in the movies, Jalosjos was born in Basilan. When he reached college, he decided to take up pre-med in Cebu, but also moonlighted as a disc jockey for the radio station DYDR.    

Brimming with potentials, DYRR in Ormoc pirated him and eventually installed him as station manager. Jalosjos had to abandon his medical studies to focus on his career in the broadcast industry, where he excelled in sales.     

In time, even Manila-based TV stations vied for his services. It was ABC-5 that got him first. It was the pre-martial law ABS-CBN, however, that put him in the big league of sales.

When martial law shut down ABS-CBN in 1972, Jalosjos and other partners put up Philippine Production Center, Inc. - or PPCI. With the blessings of the Lopez family, PPCI brought old ABS-CBN shows like Pugo’s Si Tatang Kasi and Dolphy’s Buhay Artista to Channel 7, which was allowed to reopen three months after the declaration of martial law.     

After a few years, Jalosjos went solo and established Production Specialists. Tuviera became his assistant.     

Jalosjos produced special events – mostly beauty pageants like Binibining Pilipinas and, later, even bought Miss Young International from its Japanese owners. These projects, unfortunately, were seasonal – leaving Production Specialists cash-strapped most of the time. Its only constant source of income was PBA, but this was not enough to keep the company financially afloat.     

This was when the idea of putting up a noontime show to counter the success of Student Canteen was hatched. But who was going to host it?   

Ironically, Tuviera found his talents in the sister show of Student Canteen – Discorama. Yes, they were Tito, Vic and Joey.     

TVJ initially said no to the offer. But word got around that they were being wooed to headline a show to be pitted against Student Canteen. They were fired by Discorama and became free to host a new noontime program that was eventually called Eat Bulaga.     

Produced under TAPE, Bulaga was put in the hands of Tuviera from the beginning since Jalosjos was based in Zamboanga. But he would attend Christmas parties and anniversary celebrations to make his presence felt among Bulaga cast and crew.     

Tuviera and the other TAPE executives also reported to him regularly. Under Tuviera’s supervision, TAPE became financially viable, especially after it produced other programs like Valiente, Aguila, and Heredero.     

As a form of gratitude, Jalosjos initially gave Tuviera 25% ownership of the company. There’s a chance it’s 30% by now.     

To be fair to Tuviera, he had always acknowledged Jalosjos as the majority. This was the reason he put up his own APT Productions, which are his initials.     

The takeover that just happened shouldn’t have come as a surprise anymore to the higher-ups in Eat Bulaga. It’s not like Jalosjos yelled “bulaga” to the TAPE officials. It was bound to happen.  

A couple of years ago, Jalosjos had already positioned his children in the company – with former Congressman Romeo “Jon-jon” Jalosjos in sales and Soraya in production. With the takeover, Jon-Jon is now officially the head of TAPE, while Soraya will be promoted to senior vice president and COO, a position held for decades by Malou Fagar, who is now retired, and currently held by Jenny Ferre.     

Dapitan Mayor Seth Frederick “Bullet” Jalosjos will be in finance. He is Jalosjos’ son by Lourna Pal.     

The transition, so far, seems smooth and peaceful.     

So what will happen to Tuviera? He has two options: One is to remain part owner of TAPE. The other one is for him to sell his shares to Jalosjos.     

Unverified reports, however, insist that he is forming his own noontime program, Dabarkads, with the old gang. Most likely, they will end up with Net 25 where Tito, Vic and Joey already have their own individual shows.    

As to claims that Willie Revillame is coming in as the new host of Eat Bulaga, hmm, that is quite improbable. Eat Bulaga is a GMA blocktimer. Will GMA still allow him to come back after he deserted the network for Manny Villar’s AllTV?     

Willie is his own boss now and has his own production outfit. Is he going to allow himself to be put under the authority of another person? But then, in show business, one can never tell.     

Whoever will be the new faces of Eat Bulaga have big shoes to fill. Tito, Vic and Joey, after all, are institutions in the field. Of course, Eat Bulaga in itself is already a brand – so big that its franchise was once bought by a Jakarta-based producer who put up Eat Bulaga Indonesia with Indonesian talents.     

Whatever is the outcome of the Eat Bulaga takeover will definitely change the current landscape of Philippine television in a major way.



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