Eat Bulaga! is the longest running noon-time variety show in the Philippines produced by Television And Production Exponents Inc. (TAPE) and aired by GMA Network. The show broadcasts from The New TAPE Studios (Eastside Studio) at the GMA Broadway Centrum in New Manila, Quezon City. Eat Bulaga! is aired Weekdays at 12:00 Noon to 2:30 PM and Saturdays at 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM (PHT). The show is also broadcast worldwide through GMA Pinoy TV. The name approximately translates to "Lunchtime Surprise!"
The show will celebrate its 36th year on Philippine television on July 30, 2015, holding the record of being the longest-running noontime variety program on air in the history of Philippine television.
Its first overseas franchise is Eat Bulaga! Indonesia, which premiered on Indonesia's SCTV network on July 16, 2012. Eat Bulaga! became the first Philippine show, variety show in particular, to be franchised by another country.
The RPN years (1979–1989)
The hosts form the letters T and Y to thank the viewers for making them number one in the ratings. Production Specialists, Inc., a company owned by Romy Jalosjos, brought the idea of creating a noontime show for Radio Philippines Network (RPN). Antonio Tuviera, who was the working for the company, thought that the comic troika of Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon, better known as TVJ (who had gained fame through GMA Network's Discorama and as pinch-hitters for Student Canteen, but subsequently left both), would be the perfect hosts for the new program. At a meeting at the InterContinental Manila parking lot, Tuviera made the offer to them; they accepted.
De Leon coined the title of the show: Eat represents lunchtime while Bulaga (which means "to surprise") represents their plan to fill the show with big surprises. The title is also a play on two children's games: Eat is the transliteration of It from the game Tag while Bulaga refers to Peek-a-boo!. Because of this, the slogan "Hangga't May Bata, May Eat Bulaga!" ("While There Are Children, There will be Eat Bulaga!") was coined, also by de Leon. Vic Sotto, on the other hand, composed the theme song.
Eat...Bulaga! premiered on July 30, 1979. TVJ, along with Chiqui Hollman and Richie Reyes (a.k.a. Richie d' Horsie) were the original hosts. During its first few months on the air, the show was in danger of cancellation. Not only did it face competition against the longest-running noontime show at that time, Student Canteen, it also lacked advertisers. In addition, TVJ did not receive their salaries for six months.
Eat...Bulaga! slowly gained top-rating status in 1980 after the introduction of the segment "Mr. Macho." Production Specialists soon handed production to Tuviera's TAPE, Inc. In May 1982, the domestic satellite was launched, allowing Eat...Bulaga! and other RPN programs to be aired nationwide. During the same time, Coney Reyes joined the show while Hollman moved to Student Canteen. In 1987, Aiza Seguerra joined the show after finishing as a runner-up in the "Little Miss Philippines" segment.
In the 2004 episode of Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho, the episodes of Eat...Bulaga! from 1979 to 1982 had been lost, the first full surviving episode was in August 7, 1982, the third year anniversary of the show, however a clip from 1981 (the second year anniversary) are available on YouTube.
An interview with Joey de Leon revealed that Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon never signed any contract with Eat...Bulaga! when they were offered to become hosts of the show. Vic Sotto confessed that he accepted the offer and would immediately stop once he had enough money to buy a personal vehicle. Joey de Leon also admitted that the show was only supposed to be a short-term employment. However, Eat...Bulaga! defeated Student Canteen in the ratings after 2 years and TVJ decided to stay with the show. Up to this day, no contracts bind Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon to the show or to TAPE, Inc. Friendship and their loyalty to the show are the only factors that keep them together
The ABS-CBN years (1989–1995)
In February 18, 1989, Eat...Bulaga! moved to ABS-CBN (under a co-production agreement) with other TAPE-produced shows Agila, Coney Reyes on Camera and Okey Ka Fairy Ko! (from Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation) due to problems brought about by the sequestration of RPN. On January 28, 1989, the show premiered on its new home, which was staged at the Araneta Coliseum.
Reyes left in 1991. She was replaced by swimming champion Christine Jacob-Sandejas (later she moved to Magandang Tanghali Bayan in late 1998). By 1992, Tito Sotto started appearing only on weekends after topping the senatorial elections that May.
First decade on GMA and silver anniversary (1995–2004)
By the 1990s, ABS-CBN wanted to buy the airing rights of Eat...Bulaga! from TAPE Inc. However, Tuviera and Malou Choa-Fagar rejected the deal, leading ABS-CBN had to decided not to renew it's contract with TAPE, Inc. and remove Eat...Bulaga! and its sister shows Valiente and Okay Ka, Fairy Ko from its roster (with the exception of Coney Reyes on Camera) and to reformat its Sunday show Sa Linggo nAPO Sila into a week-long show, 'Sang Linggo nAPO Sila.
Eat...Bulaga! moved to GMA, whose efforts to dethrone it with Lunch Date (replacement of Student Canteen shortly after the 1986 People Power Revolution) and Salo-Salo Together (SST) had failed. The show made its premiere telecast on its new home on January 28, 1995, again at the Araneta Coliseum. Before this, month-long promotions (from December 1994 to January 1995) were made by coming up with the catchy advertisements, 9-2=7, Totoo ang Sie7e ("Nine minus two equals seven, Seven is really true"), alluding to the show's move from Channel 9 (RPN) to Channel 2 (ABS-CBN) to Channel 7 (GMA). It was also a homecoming for TVJ, who previously hosted Discorama and pinch-hit for Student Canteen on GMA before leaving the network for Eat...Bulaga!.
In 2000, Eat...Bulaga! became the first to give away millions on Philippine television. When Magandang Tanghali Bayan, then the noontime show of ABS-CBN, introduced Pera o Bayong to its audience, it became an instant hit, causing MTB to top the ratings of Eat...Bulaga for two years. This forced the Eat...Bulaga! management to give the first millions, through its segment "Laban o Bawi", "to get the audience interest back."
Eat Bulaga! celebrated its 25th year on television in November 19, 2004 at the Expo Amphitheater in Clarkfield, Angeles City, Pampanga, making it the longest-running noontime show in the Philippines. The television special was attended by an estimated 50,000 spectators and enjoyed the highest daytime TV rating in the Philippines. It won the Best Entertainment (One-Off/Annual) Special at the Asian Television Awards in Singapore on December 1, 2005. The event was hailed as the most successful on Philippine television, narrowly matched only by the 1st Starstruck Final Judgement. The presentation, titled Eat Bulaga Silver Special, was broadcast on November 28, 2004. By this time, Eat Bulaga! had modified its title, dropping the three dots.
In December 2004, GMA signed a five-year contract extension to keep the show on their network until December 29, 2009. After celebrating its 25th anniversary, it was incidentally the 10th anniversary of Eat Bulaga's start in GMA the following year.
Second decade on GMA, 30th anniversary (2005–present)
In 2006, the SexBomb Girls left the show due to a dispute with its producers. The show, in turn, opened auditions for new in-house dancers, under the name 'EB Babes', as a reality competition. The group officially debuted on August of that year. On March 2007, the SexBomb Girls returned as regular cast members.
On September 2007, a series of word wars occurred between Joey de Leon and Willie Revillame, the host of Eat Bulaga!'s rival show Wowowee as a result of the Hello Pappy scandal.
On March 6, 2009, Francis Magalona, one of the long-time co-hosts, succumbed to leukemia. The following day, the show produced a tribute episode in which the whole cast performed his songs dedicated in his memory. During the tribute, it was revealed that Magalona coined the word 'Dabarkads', a popular name to the Eat Bulaga family. Ryan Agoncillo, new returnee on GMA Network, replaced Magalona and continued Magalona's role.
In 2009, Eat Bulaga! celebrated its 30th anniversary, dubbed as Tatlong Dekads ng Dabarkads (Three Decades of the Dabarkads). The show focused on honoring and helping remarkable people, including 30 poor, hard-working students and other everyday heroes as a gesture of paying back to the public who supported them. On December 18 of that year, the show renewed its contract with GMA Network. In addition, the show signed an extended contract with GMA Network in March 2011 which would last until 2016.
On February 2011, the SexBomb Girls along with the group's choreographer Joy Cancio left once more, this time for ABS-CBN's Happy Yipee Yehey!.
On October 6, 2011, Eat Bulaga! launched its coffee table book called Ang Unang Tatlong Dekada (The First Three Decades). It was written by Butch Francisco (a veteran columnist and TV host) with Jako de Leon (son of Joey de Leon) behind the design concept. Alongside the book, Eat Bulaga! gave away 3000 limited edition CDs of the 2004 Silver Special Anniversary celebration. Additionally, GMA News and Public Affairs produced a documentary titled Kuwentong Dabarkads hosted by Dingdong Dantes.
On August 18, 2012, Eat Bulaga! aired a special episode celebrating its 33rd anniversary without commercial breaks, the first time in its history. A soundtrack, Dabarkads D' Album: A Party for everyJUAN, featuring songs popularized by the Eat Bulaga! cast, as well as the theme tunes used by the show, was released in July 2013.
Due to public demand, Eat Bulaga! revived its traditional Lenten season drama specials during the 2014 Holy Week after an eight-year lull. Unlike its previous productions, the six heartwarming stories were inspired by true to life stories of former contestants of the popular segment, Juan for All, All for Juan. Two episodes were shown each day from Holy Monday to Holy Wednesday.
On July 16, 2012, Indonesia's SCTV Network aired the show's first international franchise, Eat Bulaga! Indonesia. The network, which had considered securing the rights for a local version for the past five years, started formal negotiations with TAPE, Inc. in April 2012, with approval given in June 2012. Eat Bulaga! Indonesia ended on April 3, 2014. However, the show eventually returned to the airwaves on November 17, 2014 on its new home network, antv, with the new title, The New Eat Bulaga! Indonesia.
Voyager Innovations, Inc., a Philippines-based technology company, released the official mobile app of the show on January 23, 2015. Eat Bulaga! is the first noontime show to launch their own mobile application that would allow their fans to stay connected with the hosts. The app also contains exclusive videos from the show's thirty-five years on television as well as a mobile version of one of its most memorable game segments, Pinoy Henyo.