8 of the Best Hosts

on Philippine TV

By Eldrin Veloso

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Before the advent of mobile devices, the only way to be entertained was via this thing called a boob tube (millennial read: television, Gen Z read: that big tablet thing facing the couch). It sounds boring now, but it was a glorious thing back then. Watching TV meant family bonding (because, most likely there’s only one set in the house) and straight up relaxing (because, well, you can’t make your TV set portable).

It was a different era back then, when TV reigned supreme in terms of entertainment. The content and concept of the shows are way different than today’s. It also takes a whole set of skills and character to be a TV personality; not everyone is qualified to appear on screen.

But these fine people were. And their work will explain why.

Jay Sonza

You might recognize this veteran TV host better through his partner for almost a decade and a half, 24 Oras anchor Mel Tiangco. Mel & Jay started as a radio show in DZMM 630, and its success led to a TV program in ABS-CBN. When Tiangco had a dispute with ABS-CBN over her appearance in a Tide commercial, she and Jay moved to rival network GMA and took their formidable tandem with them. He also hosted Tapatan with Jay Sonza, an open debate show that would be the predecessor of the popular Debate with Mare and Pare.

Sonza ran for senator in 2004, but failed. He was also unsuccessful in his run as a nominee under BATAS party-list in 2007, and as vice president in 2010 under Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

He’s now the current station manager of UNTV 37.


Ike Lozada

Big Ike’s size is not the only reason for his nickname; he’s a force to reckon with in his heyday, whether it’s radio, television, or movies. He became famous as host of his radio show Dambuhalang DJ and variety TV show Big Ike’s Happening. He was a devout Vilmanian (read: fan of Vilma Santos), nicknamed her ‘precious’, and talked about her every chance he could. He is considered one of the reasons behind Santos’s stellar success.

He is also instrumental in making television history with Apat Na Sikat—a variety show slated to rival the popular love teams back in the day—which starred four teenyboppers famous for being related to bona fide famous people, Winnie Santos (Vilma Santos’s sister), Don Don Nakar (Gen. Nakar’s grandson), Lala Aunor (Nora Aunor’s cousin) and Arnold Gamboa. He went on to become one of German Moreno’s co-hosts in GMA Supershow and That’s Entertainment.

Lozada died of a heart attack in 1995.


Tina Revilla

Tina was from that other Revilla clan. Daughter of 50s matinée idol Armando Goyena (Jose Revilla, Jr.), she started her TV career at the age of 17. Like Jay Sonza with Mel & Jay, she is more known with her talk show partner, now Umagang Kay Ganda host, Ariel Ureta. Their tandem debuted in Stop, Look and Listen, a variety show hosted by Eddie Mesa. When Mesa left, the show was replaced with Twelve O’Clock High, with Ureta and Revilla at the helm. When martial law was declared and ABS-CBN was closed down, the tandem moved to RBS (now GMA) and there, the iconic Ariel con Tina was born.

The show moved back to ABS-CBN (then BBC). After almost a year, Ariel con Tina was cancelled after a rumored dispute between the two hosts. Revilla was doing movies and children’s shows by this time, and Ureta reportedly frowned at her absences. BBC then gave Ureta his own show, Ariel & Co. After Six and Revilla was given a drama series called Christina.,

She’s not as active in showbusiness as before. Married to former PCSO Chairman Sergio Valencia, Revilla hosts the PCSO Lottery Draw from time to time. She’s the aunt of Bianca Araneta, Bernard and Mico Palanca, and Lexi Schulze.


Robert Stewart

After being assigned to the Philippines by United Press as a war correspondent in 1943, Uncle Bob fell in love with the country and went on to establish Republic Broadcasting System, which would become the  GMA Network. From radio network DZBB, he expanded to television and appeared on camera as the lead anchor of The News with Uncle Bob. He would also pioneer in bringing in syndicated American TV shows and would popularize the live commercial format, where he would promote advertisers in between segments.

But he would be more popularly associated with Uncle Bob’s Lucky 7 Club, the first live TV show for children where kids would show and tell their favorite toys to Uncle Bob. His co-hosts were puppets Spanky and Pancho. When Diosdado Macapagal won the presidency, he threatened Stewart with deportation due to the latter’s alleged blatant support of Presidential rival, Carlos P. Garcia. Thousands of children, through their parents, rallied behind Stewart and the government backed out of its plan.

During martial law, when foreign citizens were forbidden to own any media facility, the Stewarts moved back to United States, relinquishing the control of RBS to the triumvirate that included the network’s current owner, Atty. Felipe Gozon, who was then Stewart’s legal adviser.

Stewart died in 2006. His remains were cremated and brought back to the Philippines to be interred next to his wife, Loreto Feliciano.

Pepe Pimentel

This man is the pioneer of game shows like Pera o Bayong and Laban o Bawi. Pimentel hosted the longest-running Philippine game show Family Kwarta o Kahon for 38 years. Aside from that, he joined the talent search Tawag ng Tanghalan, became its first champion, and eventually became a host of the show. He also was part of noontime variety show Student Canteen and provided his signature comic that balanced the show’s dynamic.

But Kwarta is his main show. Every Sunday for almost 4 decades, Pimentel entertained and gave prizes to the Filipino audience. Who would forget its segments Roleta Ng Kapalaran sponsored by the proverbial Yakult and Mahiwagang Tunog where the contestants would guess what the sound was? Probably those who were “Natutulog sa pancitan” or those born after 2000, when the show eventually bid goodbye.

Pimentel served as a barangay captain in Quezon City for a decade. In 2013, his wife found his lifeless body in their bathroom.


Chiqui Hollman

Hollman was one of the few female hosts who’s been part of all the classic and beloved noontime variety shows. She began her television career as one of the hosts of Buhay Ngayon and Us Girls.

When Eat Bulaga premiered in RPN 9, Hollman was one of the original hosts together with comedic trio Tito, Vic, and Joey. After three years, she moved to rival network GMA and became part of its own noontime show, Student Canteen, and its successor, Lunch Date.

She quit showbiz in 1988. While her daughter had a brief stint in Eat Bulaga, Hollman was barely seen in the limelight, save for some event appearances and radio guestings.


Eddie Ilarde

Before Papa Jack, Papa Dan, and all the other Papas, Kuya Eddie was the premier advice giver on  radio (and eventually, on television), with his show Kahapon Lamang. He would read letters from senders starting with the classic “Dear Kuya Eddie”, and as it would always involve a heartbreaking story, it would spawn the catchphrase “Napakasakit, Kuya Eddie” (which would later be a title of his television show).

Aside from that, he was also one of the hosts that started Student Canteen. Originally a radio noontime show airing on the canteen of the old Manila Chronicle Building, Student Canteen was hosted by Ilarde, Bobby Ledesma, Bobby de Veyra and Leila Benitez. Before Eat Bulaga, the show reigns the noontime slot, and quite frankly, the television in general. It had popular moments, including Michael Jackson’s visit.

After Student Canteen’s cancellation, Ilarde ran for senator under Liberal Party in 1971 elections. He was part of those injured in the infamous Plaza Miranda bombing. While recovering, Ilarde was declared elected to the Senate, but stepped down 9 months later when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and abolished the Legislative branch. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for senate in 2004.

Currently, he is the founder and chairman of Golden Eagles Society International Inc., the biggest organization of senior citizens. He can still be heard in DZBB through his show Kahapon Lamang sa Dobol B.


Tessie Tomas

But when it comes to morning talk shows, no one can probably parallel the success of Teysi Ng Tahanan. With its themed content, the daily show became an instant hit. Not only that, it would consistently rake monetary and ratings success until its very last day. Fans had the schedule memorized: Iparamdam kay Madam with in-house psychic Madam Rosa on Monday, love and sex talk with in-house sex-therapist Dra. Margie Holmes on Tuesday and Thursday, crime and current events on Wednesday, and life stories of letter senders dramatized on Kung Maibabalik Ko Lang every Friday. If Kris Aquino’s Kris TV had Darla, Tomas had Eagle Riggs hosting the Eagle’s Nest segment.

After six years of the daily grind, Tomas decided to leave the show and spend more time with her family. Since then, she focused more on acting, and she has appeared in a number of television shows and films, including her latest film Miss Bulalacao and political-romcom TV miniseries Naku, Boss Ko!


Can you recall any other great hosts? Tell us about them below!

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