Monday, July 12, 2010

The BrewRATS on Palibhasa Lalake

LAST year, I was asked by the now defunct MAXIM Philippines magazine to do a tribute article on the long-running sitcom, Palibhasa Lalake for their comedy-themed issue. Truth is, I wasn’t much of a fan of the show although it was watched by the other members of the family at the house so I did managed to catch many episodes of the show from the time.

I was actually supposed to do an interview with writer/director Jose Javier Reyes for this piece (he directed Gwapings starring Mark Anthony Fernandez, Jomari Yllana and Eric Fructouso who would later be regulars on the show) but dropped the idea when a colleague instead suggested I interview three funny guys who can talk about anything and anyone on their hit comedy talk show on radio.

As it turns out, these guys (Ramon Bautista, Tado and Angel Rivero a.k.a. Erning) collectively known as The BrewRATS were actually fans of the show and remember many things about it with a certain degree of fondness. They even talked about their memories of Palibhasa Lalake on their radio show and the discussion was so engaging I decided to incorporate excerpts in my story.

Here’s an extended and updated remix.

LIKE THERE’S NOTHING TO IT
By EDWIN P. SALLAN

For 12 years between 1986 to 1998, Palibhasa Lalake was the TV show to beat, owning its Tuesday primetime slot like a multi-term president. A sitcom not quite like any other, it was believed to be a response to the equally long-running Chicks To Chicks (later Chika Chika Chicks) and to a certain extent and perhaps even more directly, Eh Kasi Babae (starring Gloria Diaz, Bessie Badilla, Debbie Miller), comedy shows that centered on headstrong female lead characters. Palibhasa was their “male counterpart” even though its female supporting cast (Gloria Romero, Cynthia Patag, Amy Perez) were no slouch themselves.

What made Palibhasa Lalake stood out from other sitcoms, however, was not what it intended to accomplish (whatever it was) but the numerous things it actually accomplished—mostly without even trying. There was very little by way of plot and scripts (or whatever passed for them) were never followed to the letter as the show often detoured to funnier ad libs and on-the-spot improvisations that for the most part, were a hit with viewers for the show’s lengthy run. Like Seinfeld after it, it was pretty much a show about nothing.

Three of the more prominent fans of the show are funnymen Ramon Bautista (of MTV’s The Ramon Bautista Show), Tado and Angel Rivero (a.k.a. Erning, Tado’s sidekick in his own starmaking indie sitcom, Strange Brew) who now host The BrewRATS Republic, a very funny talk show that airs on most weeknights at radio station u92.3FM. In a rollicking round table discussion with Maxim, all three talked about their own Palibhasa Lalake memories.

How did you guys came to know about Palibhasa Lalake? What attracted you to the show in the first place?

Tado: Wala pa kaming TV nun. Sa bintana lang ng kapitbahay namin sa Pasay ako nakikinood. Every Tuesday yun eh. I remember it well because that’s usually the day pag nagtatapon ako ng basura sa gabi.

Ramon: High school pa lang ako nung nagsimula yung show. I guess what attracted me to Palibhasa was yung barkadahan ng mga guys dun. Parang gusto mong sumama sa tropa nila kasi ang tutulis sa chicks. Si Jacqui (Manzano), dun nadali ni Anjo, di ba?

Angel: My older siblings would regularly tune in on the show so I also watched. Richard Gomez, in particular was the most appealing star that I remember. It was the height of his career then and he was like an icon of ka-guwapuhan, the typical tall, dark and handsome type.

What do you remember most about the show?

Angel: I remember yung buhusan ng tubig and yung mga lagayan ng pie sa mukha nila at the end of each episode. Also the private jokes and blind items about the stars na bigla na lang isisingit kahit wala sa script.

Ramon: Ang lagi kong tinititigan dun yung mga pekpek shorts of the sexy guests. Also Joey Marquez, mahilig mamboso ng mga guests yan pag pumapasok sa banyo then suddenly he gets distracted then the guest would later be replaced by Cynthia Patag na lagi naming titirahin ni Joey. One time, sabi nya kay Cynthia paglabas ng banyo, “Eto piso, bumili ka ng Gillette!”

Tado: Mr. M (Johnny Manahan) was the director of Palibhasa and Boyong (Baytion) was his assistant. During breaks of Ok Fine Whatever where I was a cast member, we would talk a lot about the classic moments of Palibhasa during our breaks. Yung shawarma, dun sumikat sa Palibhasa. Pero ang hindi ko makalimutan dun yung kamay. Yung habang naka-focus sa camera yung mukha ng isang character na kunwari nagkakamot o nakangalumbaba tapos ibang kamay pala yun.

Any particular characters that stood out for you?

Tado: Si Tita Minerva (Gloria Romero), lasenggera. Also, si Anjo Yllana who played Tikboy, yung sinto-sinto yata sya dun. Sabi ng isang listener ang madalas sabihin ni Anjo sa show, “Andres Bonifacio atapang atao, aputol a kamay, hindi atakbo. Aputol a paa, hindi atakbo. Aputol a ulo, hindi atakbo. Apatak calamansi, atakbo atulin.”

Ramon: Almost all of them naman. Si Carmina Villaroel, dun na nagdalaga. Hindi pa sya kabastos-bastos nun, sabagay hindi pa rin naman siya kabastos-bastos hanggang ngayon, she was a wholesome character to the very end. Of course, si Cynthia Patag na malandi. Yung mga Gwapings na laging niloloko nina Joey. Si Edu Manzano, who played Budoy, a regular guest. Mayabang na manliligaw siya ni Cynthia Patag. His entrance on the show was preceded by malakas na hangin kasi mayabang nga. Of course, the guests. They even had politicians there from time to time, like Frank Chavez and I think, Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Angel: Si Tita Minerva and Cynthia, sila mga favorites ko.

Speaking of which, the show also got its own share of flaks not just for its sexist tone but also for the way women, especially the characters of Tita Minerva and Cynthia were depicted. Were you bothered by it?

Angel: I didn’t mind. Then again, maybe I was too young to care about those things kasi. Basta I just found them funny at the time. Perhaps my tolerance has been raised because I grew up in a generation where often objectified anyway, not that I like that. Of course, there are limits but perhaps I have adapted and developed the coping mechanisms of the modern woman.

Tado: It’s a ratings game and Palibhasa rated well that’s why it was in the air for so long. Maraming commercials ang pumasok. It’s a business.

Ramon: Eh sexist naman talaga ang Palibhasa. But people watched it anyway because it was very entertaining. Besides, Chicks to Chicks was already doing sexy and sexist stuff long before Palibhasa. Truth is, if the networks wanted Filipinos to be more smarter, then dapat 24 hours ang Batibot.

Would you say Palibhasa Lalake influenced your own brand of humor?

Angel: Maybe not consciously.

Tado: If it did, I didn’t notice. It did pioneer many things which were later adopted by other sitcoms later on like the private jokes that we also did in Ok Fine Whatever.

Ramon: At yung buhusan ng tubig ginawa din nina Joey sa Kool Ka Lang na katapat ng Ok Fine Whatever sa time slot. Di ba lagi kayong talo sa ratings nun, Tado?

Tado: Sa simula lang, nung banding huli, nakabawi naman kami. Sila na naghahabol sa amin sa banding huli (grinning).

1 comment:

Wencel said...

Thank you for posting this article. I really liked it.

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