Commentary/Review: “The New Eat Bulaga! Indonesia” an Unexpectedly Nostalgic Look at a Pre-Pandemic World

Eat Bulaga Indonesia

It was definitely a big surprise when Eat Bulaga announced that an Indonesian network had purchased the franchise rights to the format for a local version in 2012. Of all the local Filipino formats that might draw attention from another country, Eat Bulaga certainly wouldn’t have been the first to come to mind.

But Eat Bulaga! Indonesia premiered in July 2012 and ran for almost two years on its original network SCTV. It would return to the air as The New Eat Bulaga! Indonesia on antv later in 2014 for another two-year run. And last Monday, January 30th, the show began its new season.

You can watch that first day right here )as well as clips and future episodes on the official antv YouTube channel):

Which I did. But while I hardly understand a word they are saying, the show still has many of the familiar hallmarks and features of the Philippine mothership. Whether it’s local versions of Pinoy Henyo and other games or even similar hosting styles and characters you could match up with a Filipino counterpart; The New Eat Bulaga! Indonesia is still a fun and enjoyable time. Regardless of whether or not you can understand Indonesian.

The most fascinating part about watching this first episode though was seeing the EB Indonesia team out and about in the barangay. Or kampung, in Indonesian.

Eat Bulaga Indonesia

Obviously because of COVID-19, Eat Bulaga had halted their daily treks to local neighborhoods. I said back in 2011 that the “Juan for All, All for Juan” segment was one of the major reasons behind Eat Bulaga‘s resurgence at that time.

Only recently has Eat Bulaga started sending Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola, Ryan Agoncillo or Ruru Madrid out to visit at-home winners or surprise random Filipinos on the streets. Definitely a far cry from the big productions they would stage in neighborhoods around the country where the people would be running around the closed off streets and their homes for a chance to not only win prizes, but even for just a chance to see some of their favorite celebrities.

While the Filipino mothership may still be a ways away from returning to those pre-COVID barangay visits, The New Eat Bulaga! Indonesia offers an almost nostalgic glimpse at what life was like for Southeast Asian television before COVID.

Eat Bulaga Indonesia

On the first episode, the Indonesian series had their kampung hosts hold a singing contest, visited a local home and had lunch (very familiar to Filipino viewers lol) and even had people running for numbers on the ground with pots and plastic cups from their homes. And while I didn’t watch the next day’s episode, they also debuted a new game involving riding around to various homes in a shopping cart.

The New Eat Bulaga! Indonesia is about as back to normal as one can get. And it is such a refreshing sight to see. Seeing many happy faces of everyday people having fun and enjoying the show in this way really brings these last three years into perspective.

Watching the premiere episode, I got to thinking about when, or even if, the Filipino mothership would ever go back to the big scale and production of pre-COVID barangay visits. But considering the show still has even their hosts on Zoom calls rather than in-studio, perhaps that’s still a long way’s away.

Eat Bulaga Indonesia

Until then, if you’re looking for a “Juan for All” experience, you might want to add The New Eat Bulaga! Indonesia to your daily habit alongside the original Eat Bulaga mothership. This nostalgic look at what life was like pre-COVID was strangely comforting and very much enjoyable. And it also instills a bit of hope for the future.

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