Posts Tagged ‘EAT BULAGA’

IDOL-BERT DE LEON

December 10, 2009

I used to write a weekly column for a now-defunct broadsheet. And I just stumbled upon my old articles. Since I’m now working again with my NINONG and IDOL Bert De Leon, I figured it may be good to post this one here, to share with everyone.

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BROADCAST NEWS
Carlos Agustin
November 24, 2006

IDOL

Contrary that what a lot of people think, BERT DE LEON is not JOEY DE LEON’S brother, nor are they related at all. “Well, pwede na rin, we are related by all the experiences we went through together, haha!” says direk. EAT BULAGA has been on air for 26 years, so we can just imagine how much and what “kind” of experiences Bert and Joey, together with TITO and VIC, have gone through together.

Direk Bert is my ninong (at my wedding, though he is definitely old enough to be my ninong at birth, haha), one of my best friends, and my idol. How can young”er” directors like me not look up to him when he has achieved so much in the industry, far more than most people actually know? Let us start from the beginning.

Bert was a working student circa martial law days (he refuses to give actual dates and ages, lest he gives away the fact that he is third in line to Manong Eddie Garcia and Mang Dolphy in having discovered the fountain of youth, hehe), doing very well as an account executive for Business Today while slogging through college at the University of Santo Tomas. One of his favorite subjects was Creative Writing. He kept on submitting inspired work that his professor, BABY RAYMUNDO, asked him to attend a production meeting of a television show in RPN 9, who’s producers were looking for new trainees. The show was AAWITAN KITA of ARMIDA SIGUION REYNA. Turned out that his professor and Tita Midz’ husband were colleagues at Philippine Air Lines. Doing television work never crossed Bert’s mind before, but he immediately found his new world exciting and challenging that he worked hard as a production assistant (PA). He became so good that he jumped from being a PA to an EP – executive producer (that compares to a clerk getting promoted to office manager) for the show AYOS LANG PARE KO, a sitcom which he also conceptualized. It is also in this show where he had his first break as a director, filling in for BEER GONZALES when the latter was unavailable to tape.  But after five years of television, Bert found himself worn out and tired of the network life.

He joined VIC DEL ROSARIO at BLACKGOLD, the sister company of VICOR as VP for Domestic Operations which entailed signing up artists and producing/composing materials for them. Bert found himself right smack into the golden era of Original Pilipino Music (OPM), working with the likes of Basil Valdez, Tillie Moreno and Leah Navarro. Bert is primarily a musician at heart, so he was happy working with Blackgold and thought that would be his life already. Until he got a call from one of his former PA’s – JUN DE RIVERA, who asked him to direct the new show of siblings CHRISTOPHER AND PINKY DE LEON, a musical variety pattered after the show of superstars Donnie and Marie Osmond. Because it was still related to music, Bert decided to give television another try. He didn’t want to give up his job at Blackgold so accepted the new show on a part-time basis. Until he got an offer from BOY GATUS of OUR OWN LITTLE WAY to work on a new sitcom called ISKUL BUKOL with TITO, VIC and JOEY (TVJ). He couldn’t refuse, so he accepted a second project and then gave up his music career for good (then). He immediately developed a strong bond with TVJ that translated to ISKUL BUKOL being an overnight success. Bert was again back on TV with a loud roar.  And the breaks just kept coming.

While working for BLACKGOLD, Bert met TONY TUVIERA, who was dabbling in music too at that time. TONY had his own outfit called PRODUCTION SPECIALISTS INC, and he wanted to put up a noontime show called EAT BULAGA. Tony called Bert and the two started talking about the project. But unlike Iskul, this new project proved to be much tougher to launch. Primarily because STUDENT CANTEEN was ruling the airwaves then. After two years of trials and failures, EAT BULAGA was finally on air. But for another 2 years, it had a very rough sail that most people gave up on it. But not BERT and TONY, neither were TVJ. All of them decided to keep holding on, believing they had a good show and it was only a matter of time before people noticed. The tide started to turn when Bert decided to do a talent contest on the VILLAGE PEOPLE, to hype up the group’s concerts then in Manila. It caught on, everyone in Manila started dressing up like the VILLAGE PEOPLE, and Eat Bulaga’s ratings started to soar. Taking the cue, Bert and his team followed up with more colorful talents searches like QUEEN OF XANADU, and eventually launched their original LITTLE MISS PHILIPPINES. Since then, as they say, the rest is history.

Through the last 26 years of EAT BULAGA, Bert has worked with the biggest stars and helmed some of the most successful shows on local TV. Who wouldn’t know T.O.D.A.S., V.I.P. (Vilma in Person), HAPPY HOUSE, 2+2, SEE THRU, THE SHARON CUNETA SHOW, and of course – OKAY KA FAIRY KO, 143, and DA DE DI DO DU. His latest project was his genius idea of putting back the famed PURUNTONG family in a modern take on the most successful local comedy – JOHN and MARSHA. JOHN EN SHIRLEY is now one of the strong shows that help anchor ABS-CBN’S resurgence in the ratings game.

Two years ago, Bert decided to go back to his real love – music. Together with JOHN LESACA and CASH MANALANG, Bert formed AREA ONE, a Beatles’ cover band, and from the get go, they have consistently played to oversold seats in HARD ROCK every Wednesday. Bert headlines the group, does a huge part of the lead singing, and his groupies increase by the hundreds every week, haha! How can I not look up to this guy?

But aside from his achievements in different fields in the industry, I admire Ninong Bert for his creativity, for his ability to see things that I don’t, consdering I’ve always thought I can see a lot of things that OTHERS don’t, as far as creative concepts are concerned. Bert is my best sounding board, he brings out the best in me, and I guess in everyone he works with as well. I worked with Bert in a big regional drama series called MOVING ON, which is now a top rater in Kuala Lumpur. And I really learned so much from him.

And that’s why I wish I had more space and time to write about Bert. There is so much wisdom and really funny quips about my idol that I want to share with all of you. Like when I asked him about what he still wants to achieve and he goes –“I want to quit working, haha”. And when I asked him to be serious he goes – “Sure. I want to be a rockstar. If the Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger can still do it, why can’t I?”. And when I asked him to name who among the present crop of local actresses he finds hot, he goes – “Wag na, baka magmukha tayong child molester haha! Pero kung pipilitin mo ako, sige na nga.. I like Alex De Rossi, but I would prefer a package deal with Assunta.” If you ever had the chance to talk or meet Direk Bert, you would know exactly in what tone he gave these statements, in his classic funny but tongue-in-cheek style. Ninong can be very naughty, but he is always respectable. And specifically because of his trademark quips, I had to confront him recently. “Ninong-tell me the truth, you play THE BANKER on DEAL or NO DEAL ano? I swear everytime I watch the show, I see you in the silhouette and all his witty remarks to Kris are so YOU!”. To which he responds – “I don’t even watch the show”. That’s not exactly a denial right?

As you may have noticed in all my past articles, I always end up with a tie-up to the industry. Well, this one is obvious. I hope we will have more Bert De Leons, if only for his desire to never stop learning and perfecting his craft.

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