Birthing pains

Birth pains. Maybe that’s what it was. Ever since we started the show early last year, almost every taping day (two in a week, Mondays and Tuesdays) was dotted with some kind of mishap or delay.  Nothing major, really; just small frustrating ones that could be negligible and tolerable in any workplace but when piled up in rapid succession all in the same day become nothing short of monstrous. I remember many times I would go home, drained. But still somehow happy, deep inside of me. Yes, I was happy because I loved the format of the show, it is something close to my heart, especially the arts and crafts section, and I was very fond of the people I worked with.

My co-host, Wilma Doesnt, cracks me up along with pretty much everybody else on a regular basis, and we have more than just a handful of quirky, colorful characters on the set to back her up, all of whom I know Adam Sandler would love to meet. He could benefit a lot by using them in his next film.

There are makeup artists Snow White and Barney and Jerome; the first is very mahinhin and very poised and has a talent of making every woman from 14 to 40 look like a doña from a posh subdivision; the second is a strict vegetarian who has a four-year-old son named Elijah, who follows diligently in his footsteps, eating greens and anything natural only (although he is allowed maybe a cupcake or two every three or four months). Pork and any other animal with four feet is their enemy. And there’s Jerome, my makeup artist, who never fails to make me laugh with his comments and thoughts even when he is not trying to be funny.

Laughter is very important when you work 12-hour days two days a week. It becomes a tool for survival. Josh is another character, straight from a funny movie, too, a Vietnamese living in Manila who brings trivia plus a nugget of wisdom said in very good and very straight English with every cup of coffee and plate of egg sandwich that he serves.

Aside from being happy, even when things were still as inefficient as they were, I was also very hopeful. All the signs said it/we would get better. It was a good team to start with. There are talented and competent writers, a hard-working art department, from the Zaido boys (I do not know who started calling them that) who move around the heavy furniture like they were only paper toys, to the arts and crafts team, our producers, the cameramen, the guys who take care of our meals led by Mang Danny (a Godsend; what would we ever do without him?), all the way up to our female bosses, Ms. Jenny, Mother Mildred, Ms. Gigi. We had the raw materials, it was a promising team fueled by the same vision of putting on a show filled with ideas that will make life sweet, in ways both big and small.

But from the onset, things did not always turn out the way they were supposed to. The intention to make it work was always there but was somehow never carried through consistently. There was always something that someone had the right to whine, complain or nitpick about. Sporadically, there just would be bad days and life has a not-so-funny way of testing and stretching your patience when you least expect and want it to.

And so meetings would be set. There would be bright ideas and not-so-bright ones implemented and if those failed, the team would manage to churn up more of them. Sometimes the not-so-bright ideas would even turn out to be more realistically brilliant than the seemingly very bright ones, proof that things are not always what they seem. Sometimes you have to go deeper, explore and discover more, and yes, think outside the box (forgive me if that sounds like such a cliché).

I do not know exactly when the change happened but we are now in our second year and for the first time in a long time, I feel that the team is finally gelling together. It’s been a long time coming but hey, things seem to finally be in place. The dust has settled and personally I find even more reasons to be happy about the show.  There were many baby steps but I now know they were at least definite ones. It’s clear to me now that we all were, after all, traveling in the same direction, in the same slow boat that has taken us from there to here.

It is still the same team. But it’s a more empowered one now. I feel we have all stepped up to the challenge of trying even harder than we already were. Who knows? Maybe we all decided at the same time that we were tired of always feeling tired, and lost.

We have all given each other a chance. In the same way that we cannot choose the family we are born into, we also cannot always choose the people we will end up working with. But that’s okay. The diverse personalities make life richer and, even if you don’t always agree with one another 100 percent of the time, you can always choose to learn from each other. This show has taught me to take people as they are. They are not bad people just because they are not the way you want them to be or they do not act the way you would given the same situation. They are just who they are, the same way you are who you are.

Yes, birth pains is what I would call them. After the pains, we are now really starting to savor the joys — and I’m happy to report they now abound. It is showing in the quality of the episodes, the mix of guests, the number of advertisers, the ratings even. We have been rating very well, and consistently at that. We sowed the right seeds from day one, and despite what we thought were mistakes, it is starting to feel like harvest time already. Trust that we will all work at making it even better.

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“The Sweet Life” airs Mondays to Fridays on QTV 11, from 6 to 7 p.m.

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