We live in a world where it seems hard to find happiness with all the challenges that are thrown upon us. But there are people who seemingly find it easy to bring smiles and laughter to others. These are the gifted people with an incredible sense of humor, who pursued careers as comedians. But behind those hilarious punch lines are those tough and challenging ordeals that they had to overcome—fulfilling stories featured on Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan.
Badidi Labra is a marketing executive and stand-up comedian. He shared that he and his cousins used to do drama skits as part of their bonding moments. That’s actually why he dreamed of being an entertainer before. His two younger siblings are PWDs (Persons With Disabilities) and were diagnosed with severe mental retardation.
Badidi wanted to finish his studies but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to fulfill it because he had to stop schooling when his mother was diagnosed to have a cyst and was even diabetic. Badidi was working at that time in a call center to provide for the medications and hospitalization of his mother. But Badidi’s problems didn’t stop there as his father was later hospitalized because of a stroke.
Badidi didn’t know anymore what he’d do during that time. Thankfully, he received a text message from his friend, who said that there was a comedy bar who needs a stand-up comedian. Badidi was so game to grab that opportunity, although he admitted that he found it hard to make the crowd laugh. But eventually he learned the secret of being an effective comedian and was later on known as the “Pound for Pound Diva” in the comedy scene. He was also able to act in independent films. But just when he thought he’ll be successful even more, a heart-rending event in his life happened when his mother passed away. He decided to stop working that time because he really got depressed.
Until Badidi met actress and stand-up comedian Donna Cariaga in an acting workshop. He described his friendship with Donna as the light that paved the way for him to get out of the darkest time of his life. To give appreciation to his friend, Badidi gave Donna a scarf, which symbolizes their friendship.
Donna also experienced dark times in her life, especially in her relationship with her husband. She’s the eldest in her brood, and she shared that she got her talent in comedy from her father who’s just naturally humorous. Her mom decided to work abroad to support her college studies. But that decision of her mom preceded other problems that her family faced as his father had another family. Donna got homesick when she studied in Baguio City. And what made her happy that time was when she joined a theater troupe, wherein she met Jan Cedrick Flores, who eventually became her partner.
When Donna had a child with Cedrick after she graduated in college, she decided to join the comedy contest Funny One of the noontime show It’s Showtime where she used her ‘hugot’ style of humor which was appreciated by the madlang people. Little did she know that she would have her ‘hugots’ from her own life. She and Cedrick had misunderstandings when she was in the middle of her journey in Funny One. She thought that Cedrick felt it was an abrupt transition because he was left with their child and she would seldom visit them in Baguio. But Donna was thankful to have been guided by her mentor Alex Calleja who advised her to see the opportunity to be in the show as a blessing and not as a negative thing. Until Donna was hailed as the grand champion of that contest. Donna gave thanks to Alex and gave him a camera bag which can be helpful for him.
Alex is also a stand-up comedian, writer, director, and radio DJ. He’s the youngest among 10 siblings. He was born in Bicol but he grew up in Manila. And he admitted that his family was far from the conventional as they lived with the second family of his father. And Alex shared that he actually got his humor from the ‘tambays’ in their neighborhood. Comedy also served as a way for him to capture the heart of his wife. When they already had a child, they still didn’t have the capability to settle down on their own, so they first stayed in the house of his wife’s parents. Alex admitted that he was shocked by the culture of their family. For instance, they would have dinner by exactly six and the evening and would always pray the rosary. Because he already had a family to provide for, Alex worked in a BPO company and he also became host for the company’s events. Until he was noticed by a TV producer who helped him secure a career in TV writing and become a TV talent, and reached his present stature as a famous comedian.
It was all fun and games until Alex made a huge mistake in his life which affected his relationship with his wife - it was when he cheated on her. He would eventually admit his blunder and patch things up with her to fulfill his role in the family.
Yet, Alex owes his success so much to host, artist, and comedian Vhong Navarro who opened the door of opportunity for him to be part of It’s Showtime as a comedy writer. Alex said that he wouldn’t be where he is now if not for Vhong who really believed in his talent. To give appreciation to Vhong, Alex gave him a bearbrick toy, which Vhong loves to collect.
Vhong is certainly one of the household names in the Philippine comedy scene. Aside from his talent in comedy, Vhong also got those dance moves and commendable acting skills. He shared that he actually got his talent from his father. But little did we know that Vhong’s childhood was not as happy and memorable as he wanted it to be because aside from being the only child, he also grew up without her mother. He was able to be part of the popular dance group Streetboys until his knack in comedy was discovered. From then on, he was given more projects. And his mentor was none other than his father who would always critique his work. Then, the darkest point of his life came when his father passed away. He found it hard to fulfill his work of making other people laugh because of the pain he went through. But it was his family and friends who made him strong during the most difficult time of his life. Vhong will always be beyond thankful to his father for taking care of him and for loving him unconditionally.
Vhong’s graciousness being influenced by his wonderful father, made him extend that same kindness to a rising comedy writer named Alex Calleja, whom he helped build a successful career hinged on his stint on It’s Showtime. That expression of selflessness made Alex likewise pushed him to encourage a troubled fellow comic Donna Cariaga in getting her act together despite her problems and win in Funny One as the contest’s Season 2 Grand Champion. And that inspiration allowed Donna to become that light in Badidi’s life to step out of the darkest time of his life.
There were indeed more smiles and laughter into these comedians’ lives that truly made a difference in spite of the troubles and difficulties they encountered because of a trail of kindness they selflessly shared. This is what we feature each week on Paano Kita Mapasasalamatan, hosted by Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo, every Saturday, 6:15pm on the Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z Channel 11.