Can you imagine Eat Bulaga! without Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon?
The famous trio has been hosting the longest-running noontime show for 38 years, six days a week.
In the early '80s, each of them had another show—Happy House for Tito; 2+2 for Vic; Joey and Son for Joey.
For a time, Tito focused on politics.
“Pero iba yung magic nila,” said Tony Tuviera, the well-liked big boss of T.A.P.E. Inc. (Television and Production Exponents).
He compared them to the stature of Fernando Poe Jr., the then-King of Philippine movies, and Dolphy, comedy king.
“Hindi mo masabi kung sinong papalit sa kanila habang andiyan sila. Kumbaga, institusyon, e.”
Among the three main hosts, Vic will most likely be active for a couple of years.
“Siya yung pinakabata, e. At kumbaga parang siya yung face.”
Entertainment editor Nestor Cuartero quipped, "Yung viewers, they always say, 'Thank you, Bossing.' Did he really give the prizes?"
Joey is 71, Tito is 69, and Vic is 63.
Some editors who came to Tuviera’s annual luncheon mentioned Vic’s appeal even to the younger audience. The TV executive agreed.
“Merong mystery, e. Saka siyempre, iba talaga yung charisma.”
When asked who are being groomed to be the next TVJ, he answered, “Yung tatlong lola—sina Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, at Paolo Ballesteros.”
The Tres Lolas were first known as the JoWaPao trio.
Mr. T (how he is called) also mentioned Ryan Agoncillo, “yung medyo seryoso side ng show.”
Do the JoWaPao know they are being groomed?
He shook his head, but mentioned that they get the most airtime,” and get “high ratings” for their segment “All for Juan, Juan for All.”
How long will this “transition” take?
A pause before Mr. T said, “Five years.”
And does TVJ know?
“Ano naman, inevitable. Parang they’re waiting for it also.
“But I would say na wala naman talagang deliberate effort na magkaroon ng transition. Walang ganun.
“It’s a matter of ano ‘yan, e, you try to feel.
“There’s a right timing for it.”
The good thing about the three veteran hosts, “They have been supportive sa mga Dabarkad.
“Yun ang maganda sa kanila.”
In the meantime, the most immediate change is that the three lolas—Nidora (Wally), Tinidora (Jose), and Tidora (Paolo)—will take a break early next year.
“Kumbaga, they will be hosting the segment as themselves.”
THE BIG MOVE. Come April 2018, Eat Bulaga! will be using its own studio.
“Nasa Marcos Highway kaya andun lahat, andun ang Ayala, andun ang Robinsons, andun ang Sta. Lucia, tapos both ends, andun ang SM.”
The multi-million-peso studio is already “ninety percent done, kulang na lang, mostly technicals—lighting, sounds, cabling.”
And as early as now, they’re already preparing for their 40th anniversary in 2019.
“No details yet, but it’s going to be big.”
He’s been asked many times about his success formula for the noontime show, and his answer has always been the same.
“It’s because talagang we run the company as a family.
“Hindi magtatagal ng ganyan iyan kung aalis nang aalis ang mga hosts o magpapalit parati ng tao o mag-iisip parati ng bago dahil sa mga ganyang changes.
“So if you’re in there, you will feel it.”
Aside from being co-workers, they have become kumpares, kumares, and ninongs.
“That’s why every year, what we try to do is we go out of the country together.”
And most importantly, “We help each other, we protect each other.”