This article was supposed to be titled “Are Eat Bulaga Regulars TVJ Hurting the Public’s Perception of Eat Bulaga?” but I decided to focus more on Senator Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III as he has been involved in various controversial political issues. It appears he is the only one dragging the show in the political realm with his current status.
Is Tito Sotto hurting the public’s perception of the longest running Philippine noontime show? Well, not ‘entirely’ as many of the people who watched the TAPE Inc. produced show being aired on GMA Network usually watch it to have fun and escape from the harsh reality of life. “Eat Bulaga” has worked so well with Tito that in the recent BusinessWorld-SWS January 2016 Pre-Election Survey, he was the No. 1 senatorial pick for respondents. While I say that he is not exactly hurting the public’s perception of “Eat Bulaga”, there is a good percentage that he is doing this.
“Eat Bulaga” caters to a wide audience and not everyone will be won over by the noontime show. The automatic response is those who don’t go to the noontime show’s rival (“It’s Showtime”), don’t watch noontime shows (or television) at all, or pick only the “Eat Bulaga” segments that work for them. Most of the time, those who stick with “Eat Bulaga” would probably go with the ‘Kalyeserye’ segment which features the funny antics of the Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, and Pao Ballesteros (JoWaPao) trio with AlDub/MaiDen (Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza) pair. All is well and good until we see Tito hosting the show.
While it is true that most of the time, “Eat Bulaga” serves as an escapist entertainment, one can’t help but go back to reality and snap out of the ‘escapist mode’ that they willingly give when they watch “Eat Bulaga”. This holds true for people who are concerned with what is happening to Philippine society and politics in general. These politically informed individuals primarily consist of outspoken netizens; the same people who probably have helped AlDub break Twitter record.
Tito is not exactly the epitome of a ‘well-beloved’ politician. His conservative stance and involvement in controversial political issues interferes with his hosting stint as a showbiz personality in “Eat Bulaga”. In the January 29, 2016 “Eat Bulaga” episode, Tito who was hosting the ‘Grabe S’ya’ segment at that time joked that in his long experience as a Philippine senator, he never had a problem debating with his colleagues, only in judging the talent competition segment of the noontime show. These political statements remind the more politically-inclined television audience that he is still a senator and a conservative one. There is a sudden tone of arrogance that replaced the fun-filled atmosphere of the segment. If he truly did not have any difficulty debating with his fellow senators, then the Reproductive Health Bill wouldn’t become a law.
In the Halloween Special of Eat Bulaga on 2015, Tito and Joey de Leon wore a traditional Arab garb that angered some politically correct and sensitive individuals online. This probably disappointed and turned off some Muslim viewers and affected the show’s ratings.
There was also another incident that happened in one of the 2015 episodes of ‘All for Juan, Juan for All’ segment. JoWaPao was doing their usual antics and interviewing the selected winner in the ‘Sugod-Bahay’ part of the segment. In this episode, Tito was part of the studio panel. JoWaPao was interviewing a woman who had many children which opted Jose Manalo as Lola Nidora to make a comment about contraceptives and family planning. Seconds later, he sang a different tune and emphasized ‘natural family planning’. This troubled me as I saw this episode unfold. It appears one of the set assistants conveyed Sotto’s ‘conservative stance’ which made Jose reconsider his choice of words. Since then, every time I see a couple with many children living in impoverished areas winning the ‘Sugod-Bahay’ segment, I can’t help but think that if only they were able to get any form of competent and proper family planning support (whether it is through the educational system or local health clinics) subsidized by the government then they might have ‘better’ chances in life. Sadly, the likes of Tito has made it seemingly his life’s work to stopping the full implementation or passing of the Reproductive Health Law that would give families the option to properly plan for their family.
Tito once again captured the ire of the community of women supporting and expecting the full implementation of the RH Law, pro-RH Law supporters, and other politically informed and outspoken Filipino netizens when he allegedly intervened in the budget cut of the implementation of the RH Law when news about Sotto’s camp releasing a take-down letter against a Rappler article allegedly ‘villainizing’ him blew up. This also reminded Filipinos that Tito allegedly had a hand in inserting the libel clause (online libel) of the Anti-Cybercrime Law, which most suspected was going to be (ab)used by Sotto himself (or any politician) against people heavily criticizing them online; a potential threat and suppression of the ‘Freedom of Expression’. Some also believe that the alleged last minute insertion by the conservative senator was a way for him to get back to critics or future critics and stop the online flak he received when he was accused of plagiarism in a privilege speech which was anti-Reproductive Health Law.
In a previous article, I also cited that AlDub was getting dragged into politics because of Tito. His online notoriety for being a staunch critic of the RH Law could affect how people perceive the noontime show. Rather than being entertained for an hour or two, they are reminded of conservative politics every time they see Tito.