Eat Bulaga, which made its television debut back in 1979, has etched a lasting legacy that encompasses more than three decades of making the Pinoys happy every lunch time. Photo: Internet

"Some good things never last...," croons Barbara Streisand.

The song is true even for television programs. Given the stiff ratings war, the life span of boob tube shows often become just a flash in the pan. Once the viewers and advertisers start withdrawing their support, reformat or revamp is the solution for survival.

Only a few shows have successfully cracked the right formula. Some had a strong start, but were unable to keep the momentum. Others leveraged on the talent of the hosts or cast members, but the warm reception of the viewers was fleeting. A lot of variables constitute the longevity of a show, and up to now, television networks still practice trial-and-error and mix-and-match methods to capture a bigger audience share and sustain viewers' interest.

How does a show keep up with the ever-changing entertainment trends and tastes of the viewers? While a good concept and a novel gimmick can do the trick, history has proven that the effects are not for the long term.

PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) counts the shows that have shown tremendous survival instincts in the vast jungle called television.

EAT BULAGA. This noontime show has definitely become a showbiz institution. Eat Bulaga has time and again defied the changing seasons, shifting trends, stiff competition, and a slew of cast changes for 28 years.

The iconic show first saw the light of day on July 30, 1979, aired by Radio Philippines Network or RPN 9. The program's original core consisted of comic trio Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon (TVJ). Tapped to support the triumvirate were Chiqui Hollman and Richie Reyes a.k.a. Richie d' Horsie.

It definitely pays to be the first. Eat Bulaga introduced many innovations and ideas that defined the concept of a variety show in Philippine television. In 1989, the show moved to ABS-CBN after RPN encountered problems brought about by its sequestration.

Right from the start, TAPE or Television and Production Exponents Inc. has been producing Eat Bulaga, making the program independent from the network. It is called a block-timer.

But with the dawning of the ‘90s, television networks saw the need to assert their power and influence as one corporate entity. ABS-CBN's fallout with Eat Bulaga was triggered when the Lopez-owned corporation tried to exert muscle by proposing to buy the show's airing rights from TAPE. The bid was rejected outright by its top brass Tony Tuviera and Malou Choa-Fagar.

In response, ABS-CBN made its Sunday variety show, Sa Linggo nAPO Sila, a week-long affair, and in the process, bumped the TVJ-led show from its timeslot. Consequently, Eat Bulaga was adopted by GMA-7, whose own efforts to topple EB with Lunch Date and Salo Salo Together all proved to be in vain.

Eat Bulaga made its debut under GMA-7 on January 21, 1995, via a grand broadcast at the Araneta Coliseum.

Outwardly, the newly christened ‘Sang Linggo nAPO Sila, fronted by the equally legendary musical trio of Jim Paredes, Danny Javier and Boboy Garovillo, seemed an equal match to TVJ. But despite APO Hiking Society's musical brilliance, their show succumbed to Eat Bulaga's mastery of the variety show genre, plus the collective force of its cult following.

Through the years, the show introduced and nourished a lot of talents in show business—newbies who honed their chops and benefited greatly from EB in terms of exposure and mass popularity.

The co-hosts of Tito, Vic, and Joey came and went—Coney Reyes, Christine Jacob, Rio Diaz-Cojuangco, and Toni Gonzaga. But TVJ managed to hold the viewers' interest and fascination. Of course, during the course of its phenomenal run, Eat Bulaga also experienced a number of lows, as suggested by some rating slips. But like a true-blue veteran, the show has found ways to turn the tide back in its favor without resorting to drastic changes.