Switching Channels

Vic Sotto returns to ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’

Seven months after "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" temporarily went off the air, the game show is back on TV5. "WTBAM" had its premiere on Sunday, May 16, with some minor changes. In place of the "Ask the Audience" lifeline, the show now has "People Speak" where the contestant chooses three members of the audience for assistance. If he/she uses their answer and it is correct, the three will share P20,000. A new lifeline called "Switch" is added if the player reaches and gets the P150,000 question right. Here, he/she can switch to a new question if he/she finds the current one too difficult.

What hasn't changed is the program host. Vic Sotto continues to be a competent quizmaster with his amiable personality and entertaining repartee. Compared to "Eat Bulaga," "WTBAM" requires more from Vic. Here, he has no sidekicks like Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola to assist him or a Joey de Leon to interact with. He only has the contestants to work with and if they are not interesting, he has to work doubly hard. Then to provide suspense, he has to put on a poker face and not give an indication on whether the answer was right or wrong. Happily for the viewers, Vic succeeds most of the time.

Honor students

For its inaugural episode, the contestants were three Grade 5 honor students from public elementary schools. To add human interest, the show presented backgrounders that showed how needy they were. Ram Bryan Megue, who lives in Calamba, Laguna only sees his father once a week because he works as a family driver in Manila. Mikka Palisoc has asthma. Daniella Echague borrows her elder sister's shoes to go to school.

When Vic opened the show, he used the word "nangangailangan" to describe the kids. My reaction was if the objective is to help the kids, why doesn't TV5 just donate funds to the deserving students. In addition, I felt having kids for the inaugural episode was not the ideal way to launch a new season. "WTBAM" is mainly for adults. Just like in the first season, the young ones can compete later. Or maybe TV 5 should do a local version of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"

Interesting questions

Their stories may have created public sympathy for them but there were probably viewers who were more interested in what questions were asked and how much money the contestants earned. Questions worth P1,000 to P20,000 were giveaways. "Ano ang kapareha ng hari?" (Reyna). "Anong salita ang tanda ng pag-galang?" (Opo). "Sa anong laro ginagamit ang lata?" (Tumbang preso).  By answering the P20,000 question, the participant is guaranteed that amount whether or not he/she does well on the next one.

The questions worth P30,000 to P100,000  were relatively easy. "Ano ang N sa rehiyong NCR?" (National).  "Saang bahagi ng Pilipinas  matatagpuan ang Boracay? (Western Visayas). The kids obviously took up these topics in class.

The succeeding questions were quite difficult which made me wonder if these were suitable for elementary students. When Vic intoned that "WTBAM" was ready to give away the top prize of two million pesos, I could only shake my head.  Ram could not even answer the P150,000 question "Sa anong imbensyon nakilala si Johannes Gutenberg?" He decided to go home with the P100,000. The answer, of course is printing press.

Mikka managed to win P250,000 because she was able to get help from her teachers in the audience on the P150,000 question: "Anong sistema ang ginagamit ng mga bulag sa pagbasa at pagsulat?" (Braille) That meant that whether she got the answer right or not in the next question, she could still keep the P150,000. The P250,000 question was "Ano ang unang artificial satellite na inilunsad sa kalawakan?" (Sputnik). She decided to use her "Switch"  lifeline and got another question: "Sa anong sining nakilala si Napoleon Abueva?" She then asked for 50-50 and had to choose between sculpture and film. Her wild guess was sculpture which was correct. With the P400,000 question "Ang mga Aztec ay katutubo ng anong bansa?" she had no more lifelines and decided to take the P250,000. The answer: Mexico. Half of their cash prizes would go their schools. In addition, the students got gift certificates for groceries, shoes school supplies and a college scholarship from STI.

Daniella did not get a chance to answer the tougher questions because the show ran out of time. She comes back next week.

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