When Robin Padilla bade Wowowee goodbye last Friday after pinch-hitting for two weeks for the “vacationing” principal host Willie Revillame, Mariel Rodriguez shed (crocodile?) tears as if her world was crumbling around her and put on a (phony?) drama as if she couldn’t bear to watch and to let Robin go. 

Applause? Not just yet.

During his two-week stint, Robin was said to have swept Mariel off her feet, that was why, as Mariel confessed in a Funfare phone chat, she couldn’t look at Robin straight in the eye because, as she said co-host Pokwang had warned her, she might be hypnotized by Robin’s charm and fall under his spell. Pokwang herself openly flirted with Robin, letting him kiss her not just on her cheek but on her neck!

Applause, applause? Not just yet.

So Mariel wore a pair of glasses with the lenses covered with mug shots of a smiling Robin and everytime Robin put his arms around her or as much as cast her sticky glances, Mariel would melt like a scoop of ice-cream put under the sweltering summer sun.

Applause, applause, applause? Not just yet.

And then, the Big Farewell last Friday when Robin begged off from extending his pinchhit-hosting even if he enjoyed his two-week stint immensely and for which I gave him five stars.

Mariel has all the right to send Robin off with buckets of tears but you wonder: Willie Revillame (Pappy to Wowowee followers) was with her and Pokwang (and the rest of the Wowowee girls) for years but did Mariel and Pokwang ever express sadness over what happened to Willie to whom they owe a debt of gratitude in a way? Did they ever, in the past three weeks that Willie has been away from the show, say “Hi, Pappy! We miss you!” or even a subtle (maybe moral) support for the guy who served as shock-absorber when Wowowee was hit by “disasters” that threatened its very existence?

As he himself would admit, Willie is not a saint. He has his faults and moments of braggadocio (such as challenging management on-air to fire Jobert Sucaldito or else…, etc.) but he deserves a nod of appreciation especially from Mariel and Pokwang (and the rest of the Wowowee girls), doesn’t he?

As if to validate her “feelings” for Robin (fancy-free now that he and Liezl Sicangco are divorced), Mariel belatedly announced that she and Zanjoe Marudo (poor guy, pinalitan ni Mr. Lady Killer!) have already broken up after their Holy Week cruise.

Okay, (canned) applause, please!

Meanwhile, Cesar Montano politely refused to pinch-host Wowowee because, according to somebody close to him, “It wouldn’t look good for Cesar to be doing that kind of show immediately after losing his son Angelo (by his own hand) and in the recent gubernatorial race in Bohol).” (Funfare learned that Edu Manzano, who lost in the vice presidential race, also declined for the same reason even. Edu said before the elections that, win or lose, he would quit showbiz and, if ever, he would accept only an offer to host a show similar to History Channel, Discovery Channel or National Geographic.)

Last Saturday Canto Boys John Lloyd Cruz, Billy Crawford and Luis Manzano took over as temporary Wowowee hosts. Aping Robin’s macho acts (escorting female contestants locked in both his arms, sorting out bangus from a market-vendor-contestant’s basket and eating balut with a slurp, etc.), John Lloyd bodily carried Ate Gay from the audience to centerstage during the Willie of Fortune segment but his effort paled miserably in comparison to Robin’s natural display of machismo. Try something new, John Lloyd!

It remains to be seen how long Wowowee will last without Willie, with only temporary hosts every two weeks. As Tempo’s Ronald Constantino and I have been saying, Willie is Wowowee and Wowowee is Willie. The guy has stamped his indelible identity on the show.

* * *

The big question is: Now that Willie Revillame is on a three-month leave from the show, will things go back to normal for him when he returns? Can he get his bearings back after the “temporary” hosts?

Showbiz psychologist Randy Dellosa says that Willie can, since the show’s format of giving cash to studio contestants will continue to attract viewers. In other words, it’s not so much the host, but the show’s format that brings in the crowd.

Dellosa offers some tips.

“Instead of dole-outs, which can feed people for a day or two, Willie can give out things that could last them a lifetime. These include scholarships, technical training, start-up capital for a business, etc. There are people who look up to Willie as a role model. By giving them long-term solutions to their problems, Willie can enhance his image by leaps and bounds.”

Good suggestion not only for Willie but for other big stars. The key word is Sharing.

In fact, Dellosa thinks this is what network talent centers need these days: A virtues-formation program that will teach the stars how to handle success.

“Virtues focus on the good of others. Most talent centers zero in on image building, on how stars project themselves to others,” he explains. “Virtues-formation will train stars to look at the non-material side of things. It will train them to be content with what they have and feel grateful for their blessings. With virtues-formation, there will be less monsters and ugly scandals in the business. And when stars put their act together like so, more and more people will look up to them. More and more people would like to see these stars — on TV, film, commercials and in live events.

And what they give will come back to them — a thousandfold.” -FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo The Philippine Star