Naging mahaba ang pakikipag-usap ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) kay Jako de Leon sa launching ng coffee table book na Eat Bulaga! Ang Unang Tatlong Dekada noong October 6 sa Whitespace sa may Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City.
Si Jako, 26, ang ikalawa sa tatlong anak ng isa sa mga host ng Eat Bulaga! na si Joey de Leon sa misis nitong si Eileen Macapagal; ang dalawa pa ay sina Jocas at Jio.
May dalawa ring anak si Joey sa aktres na si Daria Ramirez—sina Cheenee at Keempee de Leon.
Malaki ang kinalaman ni Jako sa naturang coffee table book na nagbabalik-tanaw—sa pamamagitan ng mga larawan at salita—sa unang tatlong dekada ng longest-running show sa Pilipinas.
Si Jako ang tagapamahala ng kabuuang design concept ng libro, na isinulat naman ng columnist at TV host na si Butch Francisco.
THE FIRST THREE DECADES. Ayon kay Jako, dalawang taon inabot ang masinsinang pagbuo ng coffee table book.
Nagsimula raw ang lahat nang mapanood ni Jako ang tribute para sa King of Pop na si Michael Jackson, na sumakabilang-buhay noong June 25, 2009.
Kuwento niya sa PEP, "I saw the Michael Jackson tribute and I said, like, 'You know what, it's about time Eat Bulaga! did something for their 30th year.
"And me and my dad are kinda coining the term 'Tatlong Dekads From Dabarkads.'
"And I was like, okay, it's good to have a full year of celebration rather than just one day. They've done that before with the 25th [anniversary].
"And I wanted parang a full year of celebration, and to encapsulate it, we'd like to have a coffee table book.
"I call it a photo biography, a photo biography of Eat Bulaga! through thirty years—Unang Tatlong Dekada, the first 30 years, the book.
"So, that's why I titled it like that."
Pero ang hindi alam ni Jako, habang sinisimulan na niyang sulatin ang libro, meron na palang libro na ginawa ang mga nasa likod ng Eat Bulaga! para sa silver anniversary ng show, na isinulat nga ni Butch.
"I started writing it, and then I realized, 'You know what, I'm writing from their material anyway, let's get Butch back in the project.'
"So, I had Butch write the material na. And then we both collaborated.
"I did all the research and pictures for the book, the design and layout, but Butch did a lot of the writing and it turned out really good.
"And here we are now, two years after we started, and we're launching a book," pagmamalaki niya.
Nagulat naman kami nang sabihin sa amin ni Jako na nagtatrabaho pala siya para sa TAPE Inc., ang production company ni Mr. Tony Tuviera na namamahala sa Eat Bulaga!.
"I'm a consultant for TAPE. I do special projects," banggit ng binatang anak ni Joey.
ICING ON THE CAKE. Ipinaliwanag din ni Jako kung bakit naisip niyang gawan ng coffee table book ang Eat Bulaga!.
"For me kasi, parang I want to commemorate what they've accomplished over the past 30...32 years.
"For me, as a son, you know, I want to be able to give back what they've given me. You know what I mean?
"This is a show that has given me my education, my... everything. I'm here now because of this show.
"And so I think they deserve everything that they have right now—the success, the coffee table book.
"This is just the icing on the cake na lang."
Ano naman ang naging reaksiyon ng kanyang ama sa pagbuo niya sa proyektong ito?
"You know what, my dad is a very proud man, one of the proudest people. He's proud of everything he's done.
"He's proud of it... He keeps on asking me about it for two years. Kasi the book stalled for two years.
"He's been asking me about every little thing about the book.
"You know, now that he has a copy, seeing the reaction—he was crying, he's overwhelmed...
"Ako, I'm happy for that na."
GROWING UP WITH THE SHOW. Ipinanganak si Jako noong 1985, anim na taon mula nang unang umere ang Eat Bulaga! sa RPN-9. Kaya literal na lumaki siya—at maging ang kanyang mga kapatid—sa show na kinabibilangan ng kanyang ama.
"I grew up in this show... I grew up with the show," sambit niya.
"Of course, over the years, my dad always tells me all that stories.
"And that's what prompted me rin to create something like this [coffee table book] because to me, these are my childhood stories.
"You know, stories how... yung unang sweldo ng Bulaga!, nawala sa taxi, yung mga gano'n... It's so colorful.
"It's like the show. The show is a very colorful show. So is the book, so is the history of this book.
"And you want to share it lang with the world, kasi not a lot of people know these stories.
"To me, ang laking bagay ng mga kuwento na 'to growing up.
"Parang it's about time na we share it with the world. We share it with the fans.
"We share it with everyone that made Bulaga! a success over three decades."
Kahit daw noong nag-aaral pa siya ng kursong Psychology sa Fordham University sa New York, hindi pa rin nawala ang koneksiyon niya sa Eat Bulaga!.
"When I left for the States, I still come back.
"And even my younger brother Jio, he works as a writer for Bulaga!.
"So, every summer, during his break from studying in the States din, he would fly back here to write for Bulaga!.
"He's one of the writers of Bulaga! then, yeah, for about three years.
"Ako naman, I work sa special projects, consultant, mga gano'n.
"I help out with... mga ano lang, mga ideas, more of think tanks, gano'n lang."
Dagdag pa ni Jako, "For me, it's a privilege to work in the company that has given me everything that I have right now.
"To us, I consider it as a family business in a sense.
"And any son working for a family, you'll feel proud to work for a company like TAPE, especially working for people like Tita Malou Choa Fagar, Tito Tony Tuviera... These people are the people I look up to."
Hindi nagamit ni Jako ang kanyang medical course dahil nalihis ang kanyang interes sa marketing, at ngayon nga ay sa production.
Naging malaking inspirasyon din daw ni Jako sa pagbuo ng libro ang yumaong Master Rapper na si Francis Magalona, na naging bahagi ng Eat Bulaga! mula noong 1995 hanggang sa kamatayan nito noong 2009.
Isa raw si Francis M. sa iniidolo ni Jako, bukod sa kanyang ama at kay Mr. Tuviera.
"I look up to him a lot," sambit niya.
"He's one of the reasons din why I did this book... I wanted to give him a tribute.
"What's a more fitting tribute than for him to be a part of this book."
NOT ONLY FOR THE MASA. Maraming interesado na magkaroon ng sarili nilang kopya ng coffee table book ng Eat Bulaga!. Sa katunayan, marami na nga ang tumatawag sa opisina ng TAPE at nagtatanong kung paano sila makabibili nito.
Sa kapal at bigat ng libro, medyo may kamahalan ang presyo nito, na halos nasa P1,900.
Pero nilinaw ni Jako na bukod sa hardbound copy ay meron din daw itong softbound copy na kayang-kaya ng karamihan sa ating mga kababayan.
"And either way, like for the hardbound book, I think it's going to be priced very well considering it's hardbound, considering what it is.
"It's a piece of history, e."
Dagdag pa ni Jako, "Bulaga! is a lifestyle na, e. It's a part of life.
"Not only for the masses but also for A, B, C, D... it's for everyone.
"A lot of people that watch Bulaga! around the '80s, they're now... they come up to my dad and they go like...
"These are people owning businesses and telling us how Bulaga! has been a part of their lives—Tito, Vic & Joey, Bulaga!... all that.
"All walks of life would be able to appreciate the book and the success of Bulaga!.
"I mean, look at the ratings now... until now.
"Thirty-two years later, they're rating, what, 38 percent? That's pretty good... more than good, 'di ba?
"Having said that, that's like a good percentage of the country watching the show—regardless of masa, upper class, middle class...
"Bulaga! is for everyone. It's always been for everyone," diin pa ni Jako.
"I think that's why Bulaga! has lasted this long because Bulaga! has tapped the hearts of the Filipinos and genres.
"You don't have to be a masa Filipino to appreciate the show."
FILLING THE SHOES. Sa ayaw man at gustuhin ng loyal viewers ng Eat Bulaga!, darating ang panahon na kailangan nang magretiro ng mga host nitong sina Tito, Vic, & Joey—na ang mga edad ay naglalaro sa 50 pataas.
Maaaring magpatuloy pa rin ang programa kahit wala sila, pero ang malaking katanungan ay kung sino ang papalit sa kanila.
Marami ang nagsasabi na walang ibang pwedeng pumalit sa tatlo kundi ang mismong mga anak din nila—si Gian Sotto, na anak ni Tito; si Oyo Sotto, na anak ni Vic; at si Keempee de Leon o si Jako de Leon, na mga anak ni Joey.
Naiisip din ba ni Jako na siya nga ang posibleng humalili sa kanyang ama pag nagretiro na ito sa paghu-host?
Aniya, "Well, I produce right now. I produce television shows right now.
"But, you know what, it might be there.
"Who knows, maybe 20 years later, sila [TVJ] pa rin ang naghu-host!
"My dad is a workaholic. He's gonna work until he can work.
"Hopefully, you know, if ever we do fill their shoes, we really hope we can do a good job of doing it.
"But you know, to us, there'll never be another Tito, Vic & Joey.
"There'll never be another Vic Sotto, Tito Sotto, Joey de Leon.
"So, I guess, ako, as a son, I want to be the first Jako de Leon."
Aniya pa, "I want Bulaga to not just be... to go beyond what they've built then, because that's our way of giving back to them.
"If we're just trying to fill in their shoes, then, you know... Parang for us, we have to give more than what they've given.
"They've given their lives in this show.
"It'll be an honor to take over. Pero ako, if ever, I wanna do the production side of it.
"But my dad has been talking to me about it, teasing me about... little things about it.
"Pero you know what, to me, I want the show to live on. I want the show to live on.
"It has gone 30 years, it can go another 30.
"Hopefully, the hosts are connected to the old hosts.
"If not, I hope whoever hosts the show will be able to keep whatever values, core values, the show has already embedded.
"All these hosts, the thing that they have is loyalty...
"You know, before, they were not even getting paid that well pa, but they stuck with the show.
"Their bodies of work speak for themselves, but they're still there, Monday to Saturday, 12 noon, they're there.
"And hopefully, my kids, my kids' kids will get to see their grandfather, their great grandfather still hosting well."