Why Balikbayans Love Wowowee so Much

For the life of me, I do not know what the sensation is about the rivalry of two noon time variety shows in Philippine Television. I am talking about the long running Eat Bulaga and its competition with Wowowee. I have known a lot of people arguing about which show is better and even our household help are fighting over the control of the remote whenever lunch time comes in. The house is divided to having “kapuso’s” and “kapamilya’s” and neither side would like to give in to arguments that one variety show is better than the other.

I basically grew up with Eat Bulaga since we didn’t have cable back then and GMA was the only clear station that we got. I only became curious to what ABS-CBN’s Wowowee is like when I chance upon the news that the main host, Willie Revillame, is considered as one of the most powerful people in showbiz and that he is reportedly earning around a million pesos a month. My golly banana! If the host is earning that much and has become that powerful then the show must be worth checking out.

Seeing the show for the first time, I was amazed at the high tech lighting and effects of the opening numbers. More than that, my eyes were extremely glued to all the bubbly girls in skimpy outfits (I guess they help in boosting up the ratings.) that were dancing about as the host, Willie, started to sing his signature song (this, I heard changes from time to time.)

Hosting

As a host, Willie is not at all that good. On looks alone, he is not good looking and has a large stomach that indicates that he does not take care of his body much. He has a tendency to talk too much and too fast that he is often eating his words. He is also very tactless and a certified “maniac” in a sense that he is often seen sort of harassing good looking female contestants and co-hosts with his eyes and small hand gestures. How Willie became so popular, with his long history of being suspended or censured by the MTRCB still baffles me. I guess if you give any ordinary and not too talented guy a lot of exposure on public, with him giving a lot of money to poor people, then he will eventually become popular.

This star-making phenomenon had happened before with Kris Aquino, a daughter of a previous president, who is now a very big and influential star even though she has before and still has now only two facial expressions in her acting arsenal. I guess this will happen again with the amount of exposure given lately to recent PBB winners Melay and Jason who even with a corny and obviously scripted reality show, still get an audience following.

The Show

As for the program itself, the show is more of a game show than it is a variety show. There are more opportunities for audience members to win prices and this really impressed me since most contestants were of the indigent class and each were given a chance to give a little background about themselves.

Another thing that caught my attention was the huge number of “balikbayans” who were among the audience members. Balikbayan is a term used for a Filipino who is working abroad and is currently visiting the country. It also refers to a Filipino who has become successful in another country and who has returned.

Throngs of “balikbayan” families each with placards stating were they come from were present and even enjoying themselves while they dance in front of cameras that were literally in their faces. I kept on laughing as I told myself that I would never be caught doing that on camera (less I really have a wish to let all my friends see me doing silly stuffs) until I realized why they were there. I noticed how the “balikbayans” were introducing themselves and as they did, they were handing over dollars and other foreign currencies to the host to be given as additional prices to the studio contestants. It quickly became clear to me that the “balikbayans” there were not there merely to enjoy themselves with the dancing and the laughing, they were there to help out others who are less fortunate than they are. Simply put, they were there acting as real “kapamilya’s” or family members that help out other members in need.

This I feel is the true essence of the show and why “balikbayans” like Wowowee so much.

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