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Jose Maria Ramos de Leon Jr., known professionally as Joey de Leon, is a Filipino television host, musician, comedian, actor, newspaper columnist, writer, and disc jockey. Joey is one of the three pioneer hosts of Eat Bulaga! who still remains part of the show up to this day along with Tito Sotto and Vic Sotto. Together, Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon make up the iconic comic triumvirate known as TVJ.

Among the TVJ, Joey is known for his wit, green jokes, and sarcasm. He is also one of the most prolific writers in the multimedia industry, penning a number of hit songs that many now consider as OPM classics, notably Cinderella's "Ang Boyfriend Kong Baduy" and VST and Co.'s "Ipagpatawad Mo" and "Awitin Mo, Isasayaw Ko". He also writes columns for The Philippine Star and formerly Manila Bulletin. His creative mind is able to coin words that stir funny thoughts, coming up with the titles of various segments as well the title of the noontime show itself, thus earning him the nickname "Henyo Master" of the Philippine entertainment industry.

Early life

Joey de Leon's parents

Joey de Leon's parents

Jose Maria Ramos de Leon, Jr. was born on 14 October 1946 in Manila, Philippines. Joey is the second of the four children of Jose Seoane de Leon and Emma Manahan Ramos. His father served in the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), a military formation created after the forces of the Philippine Army was absorbed by the United States Armed Forces during World War II.
YoungJDL

Young Joey de Leon

His parents separated at a young age. At the age of three, his father moved to Madrid, Spain for good and decided to start a new family there. His father had eight children with his second wife – seven girls and one boy. Meanwhile, Joey grew up with his mother in a noisy neighborhood of G. Tuazon St., Sampaloc, Manila.

His paternal grandfather was the first mayor of Malolos, Bulacan.

Because he was fond of drawing, he took up architecture at the National University in Manila. After two years, he dropped out of college because he wasn't keen on math.

Prior to Eat Bulaga!

A prank that started it all

ABS-CBN Studios in 1960s

The newly-opened ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in 1968

After dropping out of college and then taking up several jobs, he entered the world of local entertainment in 1968 with the help of his best friend, Freddie Villareal, whose mother was the dressmaker of singer-actress Carina Afable. One day, Joey got the chance to go to the newly-opened broadcasting center of ABS-CBN. Freddie's mother has asked her son to deliver a dress for the singer-actress. Joey came along.

When they got there, they didn’t immediately get an audience with Carina Afable. To while the time away, they visited the other studios and chanced upon an audition for radio disc jockeys. Without his knowledge, his prankster friend Freddie submitted his name to the guard on duty to give to the audition master. Since he wasn’t after the job, he was cool and relaxed when he was handed a script to read by the people running the auditions. Also, he knew how to modulate his voice since he had an oratorical background in college. His audition went well, thus launching his career in radio broadcasting. 

From radio to television

OK Lang 1970s

Joey, Vic, Val, Ricky Manalo, Tito, and director Rollie Grande in IBC-13's Okay Lang

At ABS-CBN, his early assignments as a radio disc jockey required him only to play records and do time checks. 

When ABS-CBN launched the DWOW radio station, the likes of Ike Lozada, Tessie Lagman and Roger Nite were made to anchor the all-local programming. Newcomer Joey managed to get his slot only because nobody wanted to handle the late night shift (10 p.m. to midnight). Eventually, he was also given a 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. slot.

At some point while working as a DJ, he met Tito Sotto, who was then doing a radio tour with his combo band Tilt Down Men.

As a radio disc jockey and announcer in the 1960s, Joey worked for twelve radio stations in a span of five years, including all stations owned by ABS-CBN as well as other stations such as the Kanlaon Broadcasting System (KBS), Mareco Broadcasting Network, and DZSA (1230 kHz). His stint as a radio DJ gave him a keen sense of what people liked, what clicked with them, what didn't click. And all proved invaluable in his next careers as gig writer, songwriter, television host, and comedian.

In 1972, ABS-CBN was shut down by martial law and Joey lost his job. Fortunately, Joey received his first break on television the following year when he was included in the cast of IBC-13's Okay Lang, a weekly gag show with the Sotto brothers, Ricky Manalo, and the APO Hiking Society. While Tito and Joey were already good friends, this was the first time Vic and Joey first met one another. 

Formation of TVJ

Tough Hits

Tough Hits album cover of Tito, Vic, and Joey

In the mid-1970s, Joey became a co-host of the GMA Network's Saturday variety program Discorama. At that time, the show suffered from low ratings. While the show's main host Bobby Ledesma was on vacation, he asked Joey de Leon to take care of the show. He then invited his former Okay Lang co-stars Tito, Val, and Vic to join him at Discorama. Only Tito and Vic accepted Joey's invitation.

Combining their wits together, the trio further gained popularity in the segment Tough Hits where they started to do comedy newscasts interspersed with parodies of the Top 40 hits. Joey made up most of the lyrics. The new comedy saved the show from the axe of network executives. Thus, the trio known as TVJ was born.

TitoVicJoey

Early years of TVJ

With their newfound success, the trio was also invited as pinch-hitters on Student Canteen beginning in 1976.

Although TVJ started in Discorama and Student Canteen, it was IBC-13's comedy show Iskul Bukol that gave them nationwide fame as comedians. First aired in 1978, Iskul Bukol resulted to more television and movie producers to come knocking on their door, including an offer from Tony Tuviera to host a new noontime show for RPN. After some negotiations, the trio accepted.

As an Eat Bulaga! Dabarkads

Pioneering the show

EBPioneers

TVJ with Chiqui Hollman and Richie D'Horsie forming the letters "T" and "Y" to thank viewers of the show

Eat Bulaga! premiered on July 30, 1979. Along with Chiqui Hollman and Ritchie D'Horsie, TVJ became the pioneer hosts of the television program. Joey was 32 years old at the time of the show's premiere.

Joey coined the title of the show. It was ironically conceived in Tito Sotto’s kitchen in White Plains, Quezon City. Joey admitted that he drew inspiration from their rival program Student Canteen while coming up with the title. In his The Philippine Star column, he revealed:

"I used Student Canteen as my model when I was thinking of a title for our new noontime show... Obviously, I did not follow the word “Student” — baka sabihin gaya-gaya... I concentrated on their second word — “Canteen.” And what do you do in a canteen? Of course, EAT! And that became my appetizer to help me through until I came up with a delicious title — Eat Bulaga!"

Since then, Joey remains loyal to Eat Bulaga! even though no contracts bind him to the noontime program and its production company. For more than three decades, Joey de Leon has devoted his life to Eat Bulaga! along with Tito and Vic. Together, they remain the three pillars of the longest-running noontime show in the Philippines.

The Henyo Master

JoeyEatBul39aShirt

Joey de Leon wearing a t-shirt that celebrates Eat Bulaga!'s 39th anniversary

Coming up with clever terms did not stop from the show's title alone. Throughout the three decades of Eat Bulaga!, Joey has coined the titles of some of Eat Bulaga!'s segments, most notably the segment Kalyeserye which achieved unprecedented phenomenal success in broadcast television and social media.

Joey also coined one of Eat Bulaga!'s boldest slogans during its first anniversary celebration in 1980 – Eat Bulaga! is one year old! 99 Years to go! – which was even printed on t-shirts. It followed the original slogan – Hangga't may bata, may Eat Bulaga! – that Joey also helped came up with.

He is also known for wearing t-shirts with witty expressions and clever designs on the show, which may commemorate important events, acknowledge current global affairs, criticize current issues, and even feature subtle sexual innuendos. Since Joey is also a proud Dabarkads, many of his shirts also celebrate Eat Bulaga! and its long-running success.

His style of comedy and humor has repeatedly stirred controversy, earning the ire of netizens for his insensitive and off-the-cuff remarks on the show time and time again. In the early 2000s, Joey has been suspended by the MTRCB several times for using "foul language/double meaning words" on the show. Since then, Joey has cleaned up his act although he still retains his pilyo ways when he makes people laugh with his jokes.

Beyond Eat Bulaga!

The king of all media

JDLStarzan

Joey de Leon as Starzan

Outside of Eat Bulaga!, Joey de Leon has also become a valuable personality in the overall Philippine entertainment industry for his contributions in the television, film, radio, music, and print media. From his early forays into the radio industry, Joey thenceforth dominated film and television. His most notable characters include Starzan of the Starzan film trilogy, Joey Escalera of the Iskul Bukol franchise, and Pando/She-Man of the She-Man: Mistress of the Universe (1988). He topbilled Joey and Son in 1982, a sitcom on RPN where he played father to a young boy played back then by Ian Veneracion. He was also one of the gag performers on T.O.D.A.S. where his co-stars included Jimmy Santos, Val Sotto, and Richie d'Horsie.

In the 2000s, Joey concentrated in hosting television shows aside from Eat Bulaga!, such as Mel and Joey, Startalk, Wow Mali, and Nuts Entertainment. He is also the resident judge of GMA Network's flagship reality-based talent competition shows Starstruck and Protégé.

Music ventures

Capture

Joey de Leon and his band Koolkats

During his teenage years in the mid-1960s, he was part of a band called Koolkats.

After the success of TVJ's Tough Hits segment in Discorama, Vicor Music Corporation later released Tough Hits as an album. Due to the enormous amount of materials collated from the segment, the collection was issued in twelve volumes, which continues to sell even to this date. However, the trio never received any monetary rewards from record sales of the collection. Joey wrote most of the lyrics of the parody songs.

JoeytotheWorld

Album cover of Joey to the World (Tough Hits) (2004)

Although not officially listed as a member, Joey de Leon was an integral part of VST & Co.'s creative process. Joey authored "Ipagpatawad Mo" and "Awitin Mo, Isasayaw Ko," two of the most memorable VST & Co. songs.

He then went on to write songs for respected singers like Nora Aunor, Sharon Cuneta, Fred Panopio, and D' Big 3 Sullivans.

In 2000s, he collaborated with the Sexbomb Girls to perform the songs "Spaghetti Song" (2003) and "Halukay Ube" (2004), which became a dance hit that marked the group's peak of popularity. Joey released two novelty albums Joey to the World (Tough Hits) (2004) and Joey to the World 2 (2007) with a hit single "Itaktak Mo", which became the theme song of the segment Taktak Mo o Tatakbo as well as one of the most requested dance tunes of 2007. Joey then followed his success with the album Kagat Labi (2008), which featured the hit single "Kagat Labi". Both singles became dance hits at the time of their release.

A writer first and foremost

MeStarzan

"Me, Starzan", Joey's quirky column in The Philippine Star

Joey de Leon became prominent as a regular columnist in several newspapers, including Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, The Philippine Star, and the defunct Philippine Daily Express. He also wrote for countless tabloids. At some point, Joey even illustrated cartoons for the daily tabloid Bandera.

Joey de Leon used to write for the entertainment column of broadsheet newspaper Manila Bulletin titled "De Leon's Den" until his resignation in 31 July 2008. He decided to end his stint as a columnist after reading a column written by Dindo Balares of Balita, a sister publication of Manila Bulletin. The article claimed that Eat Bulaga!'s international show in Los Angeles was a flop. Joey de Leon took umbrage and resigned irrevocably. He made his comeback on 17 August 2008 as an entertainment columnist for the newspaper The Philippine Star. His weekly entertainment column is titled "Me, Starzan"

"Actually, love ko talaga ang magsulat, e... Writer ako talaga before anything else,"

Constantly practicing his writing skills, Joey also writes poems, scripts, and songs during his free time.

Personal life

Joeychildren

Joey and his five children

Joey de Leon married his long-time partner Eileen Macapagal in a church ceremony in Macau on 1 March 2018, which coincided with the exact day they decided to elope 35 years ago in 1983. A civil ceremony at the Supreme Court of the Philippines was held on 19 March 2018. The couple have three children together – daughter Jocas and sons Jako and Jio.

Joey was previously married to actress Daria Ramirez, with whom he has two children: daughter Cheenee and son Keempee.

Segments

Eat Bulaga's Lenten Special

Year Episode Role
2006 "Tahanan"
2007 "Binhi sa Matabang Lupa" Luis
2014 "Haligi ng Pangarap"
2015 "Pinagpalang Ama"
2016 "Dalangin ng Ama"
2017 "Kaibigan" Jeff
2018 "Haligi ng Pangarap" George


Notable roles within Eat Bulaga!

Year Segment Role
2016 Kalyeserye Don Pepito Lavacara

Awards and nominations

The following list only includes the awards and nominations of Joey de Leon for his contributions as a host on the noontime show Eat Bulaga! as well as other notable accolades for his important contributions to the Philippine entertainment industry. His achievements in the music and film industries as well as television accolades not associated with Eat Bulaga! are not listed. The list also excludes awards that he received as part of a group, such as TVJ.

Eastwood City Walk of Fame

The Eastwood City Walk of Fame is a sidewalk along Eastwood City, Quezon City that serves as a Philippine entertainment hall of fame. It is embedded with hundreds of brass star plaques featuring the names of celebrities for their popularity and contributions to the entertainment industry. In 2010, Joey de Leon was inducted to the Walk of Fame along with Tito Sotto and Vic Sotto.

Year Category Result
2010 Eastwood City Walk of Fame Star Inducted


Golden Screen TV Awards

The Golden Screen TV Awards is given annually by the Entertainment Press Society, Inc. to acknowledge the outstanding programs and personalities from different television networks in the country.

Year Category Result
2004 Helen Vela Lifetime Achievement Award Won
2005 Outstanding Male Host in a Musical or Variety Program Nominated
2011 Outstanding Male Host in a Musical or Variety Program Nominated


PEP List Awards

The PEP List is presented by the Philippine Entertainment Portal to honor showbiz personalities, television shows, and movies that made a great impact in the year. The list is divided into two categories: Editors' Choice and PEPsters' Choice. The Editors' Choice subcategories will be chosen by the editors and staff of PEP, while the PEPsters' Choice subcategories will be decided upon by PEP users through an online poll.

PEPsters' Choice

Year Category Result
2014 Male Showbiz Treasure of the Year Won


PMPC Star Awards for Television

Founded by the Philippine Movie Press Club in 1987, the PMPC Star Awards for Television is a major award-giving body that recognizes the outstanding programming produced by the several television networks in the Philippines.

Year Category Result
2001 Best Male TV Host Won
2006 Best Male TV Host Nominated
2007 Best Male TV Host Nominated
2010 Best Male TV Host Won
2011 Best Male TV Host Nominated
2014 Best Male TV Host Nominated