6/01/2014
Betelguese

"Ano ang Betelguese?" Vic Sotto asked.

I just flicked the channel while having dinner, so I had no idea what was going on. Well, yes, I know it's Who Wants to be a Millionaire? which means my mind automatically goes back to when Christopher de Leon hosted the show, on a different channel. I then argue with myself, about who was better, but then again, I remember little about what came before, and I don't know much of what's happening now.

Well, I do remember Boyet tearing up the checks he offers the contestant as an exit point, dramatically, when the contestant opts to answer instead.

The contestant, in this instance, already had P400,000 locked in the bag. This question - the one about Betelguese - was worth P600,000.

"Alam ko 'to, eh!" I told myself.

Bossing gave the choices. Is it an animal? (Is it the first choice? I'm not sure if that's the first choice.) Is it a fruit? Is it a gemstone? Is it a star?

"It's a star!" I yelled out, kinda. Confidently, I must add.

I'm not a star geek or anything, but I've been watching the new version of Cosmos lately, which meant me getting into a journey of my own, through Wikipedia, looking at articles about stars from far away, and feeling really terrible about my mortality. Betelguese. It's a star we can see from here more than most. The ninth brightest star, apparently. A bright red one. I haven't seen it myself, but then again, I'm blind. And, considering how long light from a distant star takes to reach Earth, it might already be dead for all we know.

So, yeah, I know that, and pretty confident, I was, too. "Star!" I yelled again. And again. "Star!" I yelled, as the contestant began talking about betelnuts, and how certain she was that the answer was "fruit".

"It's a staaar!"

I don't know for sure if the contestant has a lifeline, but I'm confident she doesn't, because Bossing didn't offer that. He just wrote a check - specifically, signed it, because all the details were already printed ahead of time; this makes Boyet better - and showed it to her. A check for P400,000. Better to walk away and lose P200,000, Bossing argued, than give the wrong answer and lose P250,000.

"'Di ba star yung Betelguese?" I asked my brother, who was getting dinner at the time.

"Hindi ko alam," he answered. "Bakit 'di mo i-Google?"

Well, he did have a point, but that makes watching game shows on TV less fun, right? Particularly, that makes watching game shows with a considerable reliance on suspense, like Millionaire, less fun. Boyet's version launched in 2000 - I was almost in high school; my brother would call their premium phone number just to know how it feels like, and inevitably, our phone bill ballooned - and, well, I didn't watch it religiously. I couldn't. But I considered myself a bit of a smart guy at the time, and I tried to see if I could answer the questions. Sometimes I did; sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I was sure; sometimes I wasn't. But the best part was knowing the answer along with the contestant.

Now, you could fire up your phone, make sure it's connected to wi-fi or something, and just search for what you need to search. So, yes, I knew she lost P250,000 before she did. Or, technically, I confirmed that I knew. And then I just hoped she'd take the check, but she didn't, because she's convinced Betelguese is the same as betelnut.

To be fair, Bossing pronounced it as "betel-juice". It's probably the right pronounciation - I'm sure the producers made sure of that. Now that's something I wouldn't have immediately gleaned from Google.

And your responses...

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