ABS-CBN actress/TV host/singer Toni Gonzaga paid tribute to GMA-7 noontime variety show Eat Bulaga! for its 40th anniversary.
She was one of the Eat Bulaga! hosts-turned-Kapamilyas interviewed for the "Kwentong Eat Bulaga!" series on the noontime variety show's YouTube channel.
In the interview, Toni recalled that she was only 17 years old when she was first asked to join the Dabarkads, or the hosts of Eat Bulaga!, in 2002.
She said, "17 years old ako, e, noong una akong nag-host ng Eat Bulaga!
"Tuwang tuwa ako, grabe, yun yung pinakamasaya kong araw kasi hindi talaga ako makapaniwala."
According to Toni, she won't forget everything she learned from her almost-four-year stint in the noontime show.
"Kahit saan ako mapunta at kung ano man yung meron ako ngayon, lagi kong sinasabi na malaking bahagi ng kung ano ako ngayon bilang isang host, bilang isang artista, ay dahil sa mga natutunan ko sa Eat Bulaga!
"Up to this day, sa 20 years ko sa industriya, yun ang samahan and yung bonding and yung relationship na hinding-hindi ko makakalimutan, na nakita ko lang sa Eat Bulaga!
"Walang artista factor, walang showbiz factor sa Eat Bulaga! kasi lahat, pantay pantay, lahat pamilya talaga."
Toni also recalled how she was tapped to be part of Eat Bulaga!
She remembered, "Naalala ko pa no'n, first year college ako tapos pag-uwi ko, sinabi ng mommy ko sa akin na 'Uy, tumawag sa "kin si Malou Fagar ng Eat Bulaga! na parang gusto ka nilang i-try na semi-regular host.'"
Malou Choa-Fagar is one of the producers of Eat Bulaga!
Overwhelmed, Toni's only answer back then was: "'Talaga?'"
She continued, "Nakaka-nerbiyos kasi naalala ko no'n, sa school, pagka-uuwi na ako, automatic na yun, e.
"Nakabukas na yung TV namin habang nagta-tanghalian kami, nandun yung Eat Bulaga!, so parang yung idea na makapasok ako sa Eat Bulaga!"
Toni pointed out that even though she now works in ABS-CBN, she won't forget her experiences in Eat Bulaga!
"Hindi ko naman nakalimutan ang Eat Bulaga! Parang kahit saan ako pumunta, hanggang ngayon nga, iniisip ko pa rin, parang kahapon lang ako part ng Eat Bulaga!, e.
"Parang kung ano yung natutunan ko sa Eat Bulaga!, bitbit ko yun, hawak ko yun.
"Kapag naging part ka ng Eat Bulaga!, hindi mo na malilimutan yun. Isa na yun sa masasabi mong one of your achievements in life. Sa career ko, isa yun sa isusulat kong mga highlight ng buhay ko."
She also believes that the noontime show, which has been airing since 1979, has become a constant presence in Filipino households.
"Tingin ko, sa isang libo at isang tuwa na naihatid ng Eat Bulaga! sa bawat tahanan ng bawat Pilipino, part na siya ng Filipino culture na kapag tanghali, ang kasama mo sa tanghalian, yung dabarkads mo.
"Kahit mag-isa kang kumakain sa bahay, basta nasa TV ang Dabarkads, may kasama ka sa hapagkainan, para di ka nag-iisa lagi."
Eat Bulaga! was Toni's first break as a TV host after being part of GMA-7's comedy show Bubble Gang for many years.
She joined the noontime show in 2002, and took part in different segments.
One segment was the Bulagaan Olympics 2002, when Toni had to eat live prawns on live television.
Toni cried during the challenge, but she was able to eat all the live prawns, allowing her team to win the olympics.
In 2005, Toni left Eat Bulaga! when she decided to transfer to ABS-CBN.
In ABS-CBN, Toni hosted various shows, including Pinoy Big Brother and The Voice of the Philippines.
In 2011, Toni became part of Eat Bulaga's rival program, Happy Yipee Yehey, which only aired for one year in the noontime slot.
On June 28, 2019, Toni received a gift from her Eat Bulaga! dabarkads.
When she posted it on her Instagram account, she called herself a "proud dabarkads," and told her Eat Bulaga! family how grateful she is to them.