When Edu Manzano asks you to enumerate hospitals both private and public in Manila and Quezon City and you give him an unbelievable first answer such as Makati Med people will view that as stupidity. However for me I don’t view that as such because I know stupidity is not the reason, it simply wasn’t meant to be. If I managed to outmaneuver three moms, a UST student, and a 1-day champion how the hell did I come up with a MAKATI Med answer when it was clearly stated in the question that they are looking for Manila and QC hospitals. I don’t know. For lack of better reason I think my reason holds at least for me. It simply wasn’t meant to be.
If you look like a nerd in real life you should take advantage of it when joining game shows. Walking in a dressing room dressed like a walking Encyclopedia Britannica instills fear in the hearts of vulnerable opponents specially when they are middle-aged moms with low self-esteem. You could actually use it as an indirect way of attacking their concentration and the good thing about it is that you don’t get blamed for it. You don’t get blamed because for one it is not your fault that you look like a nerd and two it is not your fault that people are actually judging you based on how you look, hence creating their own ghosts that they shouldn’t really be afraid of.
Being a student from UPD has its perks. It is common knowledge that we do get first preference when applying for jobs. Some people don’t see it as that. My challenge is GET REAL! It does happen. Unfortunately in joining game shows if you could hide the fact that you are from UPD you will be safe. If not, prepare to suffer the consequences and I tell you, consequences could be nasty. Just one thing: If something is for you nothing can prevent it from happening.
Of course there is the first round where there are ten of you. A “roleta” is flashed on the electronic board. It will stop in a category then the second row will stop with a letter. Your answer must be in that category starting with that first letter. A Letter B for characters starring in the Simpsons movie is quite easy. “Bart Simpson!” I shouted. I was the second one to qualify. The secret in this round is good eye and hand coordination. Your eyes must be fixed on the board. Once a category is selected you must already think of the universe of that category. Once the letter flashes the answer should already be on your head and your hand should already be in the sensor in front of you. If you get that right, you are in and that’s where the fun begins.
Out of the three guys in the Round of Ten elimination I was the only one who made it to the second round of 5. All of them were girls. Three were mothers of different age groups while the other one was a Med Tech student from UST. I was second in line. Edu introduced first the mother on my left who got in first and then after that it was me.
When Edu was finally in front of me he asked me, “Mukhang ninenerbiyos ka?” I replied, “Yes, maginaw po kasi.” He joked back, “A kaya ka ninenerbiyos dahil sa ginaw.” Then that’s when he went to one of the production assistants and asked for his jacket. He put the jacket on me and the crowd jokingly teased, “Uy, yihee...” It was weird because the jacket was so big for me but it did help me concentrate. I’m the kind of person who would die first if you put me on board the Titanic. I wouldn’t die in the water. I would die before reaching the water because of extreme cold. Ginawin ako, in short.
“¿Cómo te llamas?” was his first question. I didn’t know that Edu could speak Spanish. I adit I was caught off guard. And so I replied with “Me llamo Alfredo. Me llamo Dan Alfred pero cuando hablo español me llamo Alfredo.” It would have pained a former professor to hear me overkill the verb “llamarse” but like I said I was caught off guard. He continued. I barely remembered if he asked where I lived or with whom I live but I remember that I answered, “Vivo con mi hermano. Mis pa, mis padres están en el extranjero.” (I live with my brother. My parents are abroad.) After that I think he stopped. He just commended my Spanish. I was actually kind of embarassed not by Edu but by the fact that until now I can’t seem to sustain a simple impromptu Spanish conversation. I also told him that I worked part-time in a call center once as a Spanish speaking agent and he told me that we make more than other call center agents do. I did not contradict him because it is true.
Then we talked about my plans. I told him that I was in Journalism first and that when I realized that I wasn’t good in writing straight news that was also the time when I fell in love with the Spanish language leaving myself torn between EL and Pol Sci. He asked me what year I am in and I replied “6th year technically.” That’s when the whole “I did not fail the UPCAT” fiasco came up.
The jacket turned out to be a lucky jacket. I think I was able to answer the first question and then it was smooth sailing until I reached the last step. That’s when someone got a correct answer and then the crowd went wild cheering the woman to make me ATRAS and she did. The second time I got to reach the last step another contestant managed to get an answer right and pulled me back again. The third time was of course quite nerve-wracking already. How do you advance when all of them are against you? This is where the UPD game show stigma comes in. I just kept on taunting the audience that I am really the one meant to dance PAPAYA in front. If you get to cross the line first you are obliged to dance Papaya whether you like it or not. I just used that as a handle to keep myself psyched. I was already having doubts. I was just able to hang on because of one constant thought in my head, “If I am meant to cross that line I will be able to cross it no matter who or what comes my way.” It did work. I crossed the line second and then the crowd remembered my battle cry. I was asked to dance Papaya solo in front. When you are in front of national TV, super nervous with the knowledge that the whole world is watching (Hello TFC) doing a little crazy dance and losing all your jitters does help. Besides I was already on national TV. I just took advantage of the fifteen seconds of fame.
After that round I was already more confident. What else had I got to lose? I think I already lost my dignity dancing the Papaya in front with the whole world watching, hehehe. The defending winner was called in front and she chose a category called, “At Home.” This is the trickiest part of the program, the Challenge round. The categories are simply hard to figure out. It turned out that we were to give the 20 Most Populous Provinces in the Philippines. I admitted on air that, “Bobo ako s Philippine Geography.” Ask me the capital of Zimbabwe. Ask me to enumerate all the countries in Europe. I could do that but ask me this? I don’t even know what the difference is between a city and a province in this country. Is Cavite a province? Is it a city? I have no idea! I just remembered that there is region called CaLaBaRZon. Maybe those are provinces. And so I prepared my bets in my brain, come what may. I only had three: Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan. I answered Laguna and it was correct. And then the other two players answered wrong. That’s when I realized that I didn’t need Cavite and Bulacan anymore. I tried in vain to give Edu all the 20 provinces but I failed.
Of course what comes last is the million peso jackpot round. There are eight categories to be flashed on screen and you have ten seconds to look at it. The categories were actually “friendly” to me because I saw European Cuisine there along with another one called Flags of the World. Unfortunately it was the John Travolta Films category that got chosen. Before I knew I was asked to supply three letters. Instead of another letter I chose letter G as my third letter at the last moment. because I remembered the John Travolta category. If there is one Travolta flick that I know that would be GREASE. And then that category popped out.
Again I openly admitted that I am not a John Travolta fan and that I barely know any movie of his. When the clock started ticking I went straight to letter G and shouted “GREASE!” followed by a “Sure na!” In the little thinking time that I had I knew that there is another John Travolta film called FACE-OFF, the cover of which I remember well from our pirated VCD collection. I forgot that when I came to letter F and so I skipped that and went to another letter. Suddenly a vision flashed in my mind that of a movie poster with Uma Thurman seated on a couch. There’s a lot of gold in that poster and John Travolta was in it! I tried my best to remember the title and then it hit me. The title was “BE COOL! Sure na!” After that I remembered FACE OFF. And then of course since Uma Thurman already helped me with the Be Cool answer I remembered another film where the two of them starred together. Who could ever forget PULP FICTION? “Sure na!”
In the end the four answers I supplied were all correct. “Not bad for someone who is not a John Travolta fan,” Edu said. I too was quite impressed with that. I’m still wondering where all those movies came from. Well the answer could have very well been in the dark corners of my brain, pieces of useless information waiting to be utilized. I didn’t have an answer for A. Of course John Travolta had a cameo in Austin Powers in Goldmember. He was Goldmember in the movie version of Austin’s life story. The other letter was S. Saturday Night Fever was a popular movie (I think) but not as popular for my memory during that moment. He drew out six envelopes containing each of the six letters on the board. Having 4 correct answers the probability was high that I would get the computer showcase. I did.
Celebrities played in the next episode. They were the cast of the upcoming movie My Kuya’s Wedding. Of course Maja Salvador was there and I couldn’t help but stare at her. Aside from winning the million I must admit that the other thing that drove me to strive to get to the next episode was to see Maja and snap a picture with her. Too bad it did not happen. Maja didn’t get past the first round and I was afraid to withdraw my camera and approach her because I thought it was prohibited. (The contract says no mobile phones in the studio, it didn’t say NO CAMERAS, but I was just playing safe.) She had already gone after my challenge round.
Kitkat and IC Mendoza (Inday Badiday’s gay grandchild) were the ones who made it through the challenge round. They were both friendly. They both made beso to me when I went up the stage and talked a little asking me how long I have been the defending champion. It’s just too bad I didn’t take a picture with them. I chose the category. I was torn between “Who’s the Boss” and “In Sickness.” I chose the latter because I thought it would be a question about diseases or illnesses. I was wrong. When the hospital question flashed on screen I was already a little disoriented and like I said in the first few paragraphs the first two hospitals that popped in my head were Makati Med and St. Luke’s, completely disregarding the fact that the category was asking for hospitals in Manila and Quezon City, not Makati. I do know that PGH and Lung Center are in QC but the Makati Med answer disqualified me from the game. I was the first to answer. I confidently said, “Makati Med.” It was when the crowd collectively sighed disappointment that I finally realized my mistake. Hello, MAKATI!
My game ended there. I snapped a photo with chairman Edu and signed all the documents that needed to be signed. My Php50, 000 has a 20% tax which only leaves me with Php40, 000. The computer showcase has 20% tax too! Surprise! Since it costs Php23, 000 the amount of Php4, 600 was also deducted leaving me with Php35, 400 that I can claim a month after the episode airs: September 29, 2007 – three days after my birthday. And so it ends.