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[dropcap letter="N"]o matter how much Philippine television evolves, the noontime show is still one of the major centerpieces of any network’s programming. At present, the three most popular shows are ABS-CBN’s Showtime, TV 5’s Wowowillie (though they plan to end that sometime next month), and the unstoppable juggernaut we know and love as Eat Bulaga.
Yes, the Dabarkads may have been ruling the roost for three decades already, but at many points in our local history, many shows have tried to take them on, with varying degrees of success. This list is an ode to just 8 of them…
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Aired On: RPN 9 (1994-1996)
The show that came about a decade and a half too late and too early, this show was helmed by veterans like Rico J. Puno and Hajji Alejandro before their retro appeal came to a resurgence in the mid-2000s, and after their careers have already peaked. It also featured beauty queen Michelle Aldana and singer Chiqui Pineda, as well as Arnel Ignacio.
Breakout Moment: When Chiqui Pineda’s song “How Did You Know?” entered the public consciousness. That’s probably the only thing from this show that stood the test of time – unless you had a thing for Michelle Aldana.
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Aired On: GMA 7 (1993-1995)
The spiritual successor to our #3 in this list, SST was hosted by the likes of Randy Santiago, Ai-Ai Delas Alas, Bayani Agbayani, and Smokey Manoloto. As shocking as it sounds, there was a point when SST actually gave Eat Bulaga a run for its money, and overtook it in the ratings, with various witty segments that broke the mold for noontime programming back in the day.
In the end, it gave way to Eat Bulaga when they moved to GMA from ABS-CBN, as the SST gang found themselves in the 11AM timeslot, where, try as they might, they couldn’t beat Teysi ng Tahanan in the ratings game.
Breakout Moment: While this was the show where Ai-Ai and Bayani started putting their names on the map, one of the most memorable things to come out of SST was the segment by the late Giovanni Calvo, “Katok Mga Misis.” Who could ever forget Giovanni’s trademark laugh?
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Aired On: BBC-2 (1985-1989), ABC 5/TV 5 (1989-2008)
This show is a bit weird because for a supposedly long-running noontime variety show, there’s very little available material on it. Which is strange, since it’s been supposedly hosted by the likes of Joey Marquez, Rico J. Puno, Valerie Concepcion, and Carmina Villaroel. If anyone here has fond memories of the show, now’s a good chance to regale us with tales about it, because this is arguably the longest-running show ever that nobody has watched.
Breakout Moment: This is the show where Jean Garcia was discovered in.
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Aired On: IBC-13 (1998-1999)
You can’t keep a good man down, and when the Student Canteen mainstay Eddie Ilarde decided that the Philippines needed another noontime show, this is what he came up with. Quite an eclectic mix of hosts, what with Boots Anson-Roa and Paco Arespacochaga included in the mix.
Breakout Moment: The point where you realize that by 1998, the great Eddie Ilarde has been doing this schtick for 40 years already—and he’s still alive, ready to stage a TV comeback anytime he chooses.
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Aired On: ABS-CBN (1998-2005)
The show that planted the seeds for Willie Revillame’s (inexplicable) superstardom, and established the fact that Randy Santiago has been everywhere during the noontime (Lunch Date, SST, MTB, Happy Yipee Yehey, Wowowillie, and Kalatog Pinggan!), MTB was nothing short of phenomenal, as they forever upped the ante for every single contest people would play on noontime TV. Gone were the days where a prize money of 5,000 bucks was considered awesome, as prizes went all the way up to 2 million pesos over the course of MTB’s run.
Magandang Tanghali Bayan was also known as Masayang Tanghali Bayan, as well as MTB, Ang Saya-Saya throughout its seven-year run.
Breakout Moment: Three words. Pera o Bayong. Somewhere, Pepe Pimentel must have been scratching his head, wondering what the big deal was.
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Aired On: GMA 7 (1986-1993)
This show featured former Senator Orly Mercado as a host, which was probably around the point when showbiz personalities realized the advantage they had for themselves when entering the political arena. Eventually, other hosts came in, and yes, it included Randy Santiago yet again.
Lunch Date was also likely the place where Jon Santos made his mark as a comedic genius—a fact everybody knows and acknowledges to this very day.
Breakout Moment: MonaKiki. May Mona ka na, may… damit ka pa! Of course, the apocryphal story allegedly goes that Ruffa Gutierrez completed this spiel to disastrous results.
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Aired On: ABS-CBN (1995-1998)
When Eat Bulaga left ABS-CBN to head to GMA-7, the execs at Channel 2 figured that the best way to match up to the trio of Tito, Vic, and Joey, was with their own trio of Buboy, Danny, and Jim, aka the APO Hiking Society. This was a brilliant move, and worked out for a while.
Over time, though, creative differences arose between the producers and APO, as Jim Paredes recounted that they started nudging the show in directions the on-air talent weren’t comfortable with. Initially, the ratings justified these moves, but eventually, when Gracia broke out at this point in Eat Bulaga, they never looked back in the ratings game, and ‘Sang Linggo nAPO Sila was on its dying legs, often being called out for being “too intelligent for the average Filipino,” which is more a diss to the Filipino viewer than it was to the quality of the show itself.
Breakout Moment: Their joke segment, meant to match up with Eat Bulaga’s Bulagaan segment. For one, they offered 500 pesos to senders whose jokes would make it on the air. Then, they had the witty part called "Boo! Yay!" where they would make hilariously biting and satirical comments about current events. Was it too intelligent for the average Filipino? Maybe not. I would daresay it was just ahead of its time, and political commentary disguised as jokes wasn’t quite as mainstream then as it is now.
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Aired On: CBN (1958-1965), GMA-7 (1975-1986), RPN 9 (1989-1990)
This was the show that Eat Bulaga had to beat for it to become the legend that it is today. With Eddie Ilarde at the helm of this show from its days as merely a radio program on DZXL, the show was immensely popular, and arguably went out at its peak in 1965 when Eddie Ilarde got into politics.
From there, the already-popular show then found itself revived, dominating the ratings game, and nearly getting Eat Bulaga cancelled if the latter didn’t manage to turn things around with their segment, Mr. Macho.
It took the Edsa Revolution to get the show off the air, and except for a very brief and ill-advised last hurrah for the show in 1989, Student Canteen installed itself into the unofficial Philippine TV Hall of Fame both for its sheer longevity, and the amazing amount of influence it has exerted on the face of Philippine TV, which Joey De Leon himself would readily acknowledge.
Breakout Moment: The Philippine King of Trivia, Bong Barrameda, got his start on Student Canteen, via the segment “IQ 7.”