NO ROOM IS EVER QUIET
when Jugs Jugueta is around. He can’t help it. His diaphragm has had over two decades of practice modulating in front of audiences. He’s been one-fourth of Itchyworms for 21 years now; when he speaks, it’s as though he’s making sure people in the bleachers hear him.
Of course, there’s also the daily task of entertaining the madlang people. In It’s Showtime, it’s Jugueta’s job, along with his co-hosts, to keep their audience bopping, clapping, laughing, and singing for three hours, six days a week.
About four years ago, he and some friends took over Route 196, a cozy bar/music haven in Quezon City. He didn’t do it for the money. “What money? Nung isang gabi, ang sales namin for the whole night was P1,600.
Sobrang abonado ako.” He did it, instead, for love of his craft.
“It’s my way of giving back to the music industry and keeping OPM alive,” he says. “Binibigyan namin ang young artists ng venue
na pagtutugtugan. If you think OPM is dead, I dare you to watch a gig at Route 196, lalo na pag mga bata yung tumutugtog. As long as may bata sa Pilipinas, buhay ang OPM.” If he had the time, Jugueta would also produce albums and manage bands. But there just isn’t. He is, after all, a member of this generation’s multi-hyphenate society. Apart from Itchyworms, It’s Showtime, and Route 196, he still has other interests to take care of. And keeping all these together is Jugueta’s most important role: husband. He celebrates his second wedding anniversary this year.
“We’ve been together for almost 11 years,” says Jugueta. “Natagalan lang ako mag-propose kasi ang mahal ng diamante. Eh hindi pwedeng mag-propose nang walang singsing. Besides, I had to do it. Kasi with women—it’s hard to live with them, but it’s harder to live without them. Nakita
ko lang sa Internet yang quote na yan, by the way.”
He throws in another Internet gem for good measure: “Sabi nga ni John Lennon: ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.’” Jugueta learned this first-hand seven years ago when he found something equally fun beyond his rock-and-roll life. When did it dawn on you that life in a rock band might not be enough? I was 30. Pag ganung edad ka na, nakakapag-isip ka na ng quarter life crisis. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, pucha, treinta na ko; hindi na pwedeng rock and roll forever. Lagi kong sinasabi sa mga bata yan: Pwede kang mag-rakenrol hanggang 30. Tapos kailangan na magseryoso. About what? Your income, mostly. Back then, my only income came from Itchyworms. And a little bit from a stuffed toy business that was dying because China had stepped in. Kung P50 ang cost ng isang stuffed toy rito, sa China,
P5 lang. So in short, wala akong masyadong ginagawa nun. So you decided to go on TV. Hindi ko trip mag-tv, ha. Pero payag ako nang payag sa TV guestings. T at aw a gang Game KNB ?“Fr eek a ba today?” “Oo!” Hindi naman ako nananalo. Malas talaga ako sa mga ganun, pati sa casino. Pero natutuwa akong sumali kasi bawat sali mo, bi big yank an gP 3,000, om in san
P5,000 pa. And since I never won, they could invite me back a month after. If you win, you can’t join again for six months.
How did you jump from always losing at game shows to being one of the cohosts of It’s Showtime? Hindi ko rin alam. Parang tadhana. Sa pagsali ko sa mga game show, nakilala ko yung mga staff: the writers, floor directors, etc. So nung binubuo nila
yung Showtime, I was on their short list [for the original set of hosts]. The director/creator of the show put together a diverse mix: Anne Curtis, who was the high class coño kid; Vhong Navarro, an everyday man na nakakatawa; Vice Ganda, bading na comedian; Kuya Kim,
matandang matalino. And then they needed a dreamer—someone who had a dream and, because of hard work, reached their dream. That was me and Teddy [Corpuz]. Did you foresee back then that seven years on, your TV hosting gig would still be going strong? Hindi. It's Showtime was supposed to be just 13 episodes, taped, and aired Saturday nights. Sabi
ko, why not? Wala namang masasagasaang gig [of Itchyworms]. We taped a mock episode. But when management saw it, they said, “Gawin na lang natin siyang morning show, live, Monday to Saturday.” Napasubo na ko. On screen, the energy level of all the It’s Showtime hosts is off the charts. How is it backstage? It’s the same. Mas bastos lang ang jokes namin off cam. What you see on TV, that’s really how we are; that’s really how we talk. Wala kaming mask that we put on in front of the cameras. I don’t think I could have lasted seven years kung kailangan kong magsuot
ng mask every day. Nakakapagod yun. Did you feel burdened to live up to the image that It’s Showtime’s director gave you—a hardworking dreamer? Never. Yun naman talaga ako. No one ever asked me to change. Wala yung, “Magpapayat ka naman.” I never felt uncomfortable about myself with anyone in the production. What I got was, “Be who you are. That’s why we got you.” Many ignorantly label celebrities as dimwits and judge you based on how you look. How do you set this misconception straight? By talking to you in English, ha ha! But you can’t deny that image is a huge deal in show business. Sure. I know people judge me based on how I look. They’d say, “Ay, mataba
lang siya na cute.” Eto magandang lesson na natutunan ko especially from my co-hosts: People, lalo na
yung mga elitista, do think na ang mga artista, bobo yang mga yan. Maganda lang tingnan. Pero ang daming matatalinong artista. Even better, they’re street smart. They know exactly what they’re doing. They can say, “I tried this; I tried this; I tried this. This one worked; that’s why I’m sticking with it.” Ganun lang ka-simple yun. You’ve been a TV host for over seven years, frontman of Itchyworms for 21. Do you still get high from applause? Oo naman. Marami pa ring [Itchyworms] gigs na nakakabingi talaga ang mga sigaw mula sa audience. Buti na lang, masyado na kaming matanda para sa fans na stalkers. Ang stina-stalk lang, yung mga batang banda. What kind of audience is easiest to play for: kids or the older ones? Pareho lang. I’m used to all kinds of audiences anyway. For It's Showtime, the audiences are more varied—from kids to mga lolo at lola. For Itchyworms, ang nakikinig sa amin, usually from teens to people in their 40s. Who are the noisiest? Pag students ang nasa audience, sobrang saya lagi. Pag sa probinsya, may mga mahiyain; meron namang
all-out ang saya.
Ang mall crowd, usually nakaupo lang sila, pero masaya rin. Siguro ang pinakatahimik, na masaya pa rin naman, ang corporate gigs namin. Siyempre nagco-corporate
[gig] din kami; sayang naman ang English skills namin. Wala naman din kaming mga tattoo, so bagay kaming tumugtog sa corporate [setting]. Itchyworms started out as a college
barkada, just like Parokya ni Edgar. Both bands have been around for ages. Is it important for a band to be friends first, bandmates second? It’s very important that you get along well with your bandmates. Ang
nakikita lang ng mga tao is the one hour that you’re onstage together. Hindi nila nakikita yung hours of rehearsal, recording, photo shoots, van rides, plane rides, boat rides, sound check, waiting backstage, etc. Tumagal kami ng ganito dahil magkakaibigan kami who happen to play well together. [Being in Itchyworms] is just a great excuse to hang out with my friends. Parang may high school reunion kami three times a week. FHM