MANILA — Dubbed the “King of Talk,” Boy Abunda is considered the foremost showbiz interviewer in the Philippines, not only for his rapport with guests but also his professionalism.
The latter was evident more than ever in the Thursday episode of “Tonight with Boy Abunda,” when the veteran host couldn’t hold his tears on the topic of his mother.
Abunda was interviewing Toni Gonzaga, who considers him as one of her mentors as a TV host. When Abunda asked Gonzaga to share “one thing that you learned from me,” the latter mentioned Abunda’s relationship with his mother.
Gonzaga answered: “You’re very grounded to your reason why you are doing all these things that you are doing. You really want to make your Nanay proud. Iyon ang pinakatumatak sa akin — na sa lahat ng gagawin ko, lagi ko dapat iisipin, ‘Magiging proud ba ‘yung nanay ko sa gagawin ko, sa sasabihin ko, sa ipapakita ko sa telebisyon?’”
“Iyon ang hindi ko makakalimutan sa ‘yo. More than the brilliant interviews that you’ve done — wala na talagang makaka-contest noon — what I really admire about you is your love for your family, for your mom,” she added.
The topic was clearly a sensitive one for Abunda, who tried but failed to contain his emotions. At one point, he covered his face as he was heard sobbing.
After mere seconds, however, Abunda paused to compose himself, then briefly explained, “I’m just very sensitive now because of what I’m going through.”
“Kahit makalimutan na lahat ang aking trabaho, for as long as people remember that I encouraged them to make their parents, to make their mothers proud, I’m okay,” he said.
Resuming the interview, Abunda said, “Let’s do a job, I mean Nanay would want me to do a job” — then proceeded to ask Gonzaga about her business ventures.
Throughout his career, Abunda has publicly paid tribute to his mother, Lesing, with the tagline, “Make your Nanay proud,” which he often says at the close of his programs.
The phrase is also the title of a 2014 book by Abunda, and the name of a foundation, dedicated to mothers, which he founded.
Lesing, who is turning 91 in January, has been suffering from dementia, Abunda has said in past interviews.
In an October 2019 episode of his other talk show, “The Bottomline,” Abunda revealed that Lesing had been in the hospital for weeks.
“She is the center of my life, and I hope she’s not suffering,” he said at the time, sharing that family decisions were being made then regarding medical procedures.
“I’ll be very honest. I don’t know how I’m going to live my life without the presence of my mother. Pero katulad ng maraming sugal sa buhay ko, susuungin ko,” Abunda said.