MANILA — It took an entire day of planning, plus several accomplices including his “competitors” in Tawag ng Tanghalan, to pull off Jhong Hilario’s trending surprise comeback on “It’s Showtime” over the weekend.
Hilario had been on hiatus from showbiz due to several factors, including welcoming his newborn Sari during the coronavirus pandemic, and the recently concluded election season, where he won a third term as councilor in Makati City.
With COVID-19 cases slowing and restrictions easing — and having taken oath as an elected official — Hilario could finally return to the ABS-CBN program, via a top-secret “mission” which he chronicled through his vlog released June 7.
Hilario arrived on the morning of June 4 at the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City, cautious to interact only with his “accomplices” and avoiding those inside the building who are not aware of his return to “It’s Showtime.”
Security guards who did a visual check upon his entry became his unwitting “kasabwat” (accomplices), too, as Hilario requested them to not tell anyone else about his arrival.
The medical officer in charge of administering Hilario’s swab test was told the same, this time by a producer of “It’s Showtime.” When the nurse asked for a photo with Hilario, she was reminded to only post it online, if she plans to, once the noontime program’s episode ends.
“Naka-record ka, ate! ‘Pag nabuking kami, ikaw ang ha-hunt-ingin ko!” Hilario joked.
Hilario also shared glimpses of his transformation as Friedrich Palacol, his disguise as a Tawag ng Tanghalan contestant, as well as his rehearsals with Kyle Pasajol and Alyssa del Sol — singers who were tapped to help him accomplish his mission.
Watching the live episode of “It’s Showtime” from his holding area, Hilario said, referring to his co-hosts, “Wala silang kaalam-alam!”
He then had a final briefing with “It’s Showtime” producers as well as director Jon Moll, shortly before making his way to the studio he had last set foot on in 2020.
As Hilario recorded his entire day, his partner Maia also captured their 1-year-old daughter Sari’s reaction to his appearance on TV. To Maia’s amusement, Sari appeared clueless — and even fell asleep just after Hilario revealed himself.
The revelation — which draw audible shrieks in the studio, and moved his co-hosts to tears — has since become a viral moment that will be remembered as pivotal in the history of “It’s Showtime.”
“Mga, ka-tumbling, tapos na! Success!” Hilario declared at the end of his vlog. “Na-miss ko ‘tong dressing room na ‘to. I missed ABS-CBN!”