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Robi Domingo: Getting Better Everyday

It’s been 15 years since Robi Domingo joined show business, and he has successfully carved a niche for himself in the industry.

While other reality show graduates focused on acting, Robi has learned to embrace his calling: to become a TV host.

But it wasn’t exactly something that he planned after his “Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition Plus” stint, he reveals in a FreebieMNL Spotlight exclusive.

He recalls, “After ‘PBB,’ they wanted me to act but, unfortunately, I couldn’t due to reasons such as I can’t cry; I don’t know why.

“Also, during those moments, they wanted me to go to tapings. E, hindi ako pwede mag-taping kasi dumiretso rin ako sa college, e. So, when I was doing ABS-CBN work, I was finishing my pre-med course.”

Hence, hosting was something Robi was able to try through ABS-CBN’s music channel, MYX, where he became a video jock.

In addition, he became a part of “ASAP,” as he was part of the all-boy dance group Giggerboys.

It was easier for Robi to commit to MYX and “ASAP” schedule-wise, as it did not eat up long hours of taping, but the journey of learning the art of hosting was not exactly a walk in the park either.

Robi says, “I consider myself an introvert, even torpe. Hindi ako makausap sa ibang mga babae, nahihiya ako. E, how much more when you need to interview personalities and big shots?

“So, I took it as a big challenge and talagang grind talaga and learn from the people. Be nice to the people you work with, kasi sila ang magsasabi sa ‘yo na, ‘Okay, you need to do this, you need to keep on doing this.’”

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Styled by Dave Arden of Arden Style PH

Robi’s style

Eventually, Robi fell in love with the craft of hosting, as it not only opened career opportunities for him but also opened his eyes to the world.

On why he fell in love with being a host, Robi says, “I guess I was just interested in stories and also, I like the flow of things, especially events. 

“I would like to believe nakulob ako noong bata ako kasi ang pinupuntahan ko lang [was] school, church, Eastwood at saka bahay. Yun lang yung apat na lugar na pinupuntahan ko.

“Outside of that, wala na akong ibang mundo. Noong nakalaya ako after ‘PBB,’ nakita ko, ‘Ah, ganito pala yung mundo.’ 

“So, I was [excited] na ganyan pala yung way of things and I would like to learn more and hear more stories, so I can share more stories, too.”

As time went by, Robi learned how to define his hosting style, which was initially brought by what he observed from his predecessors and other personalities he was exposed to.

He admits, “I think I’m the jack of all trades na kinuha ko yung ganito ni someone, yung ganyan ni someone.

“Being immersed in different types of shows and also personalities and hosts, parang gusto mong kunin kung ano yung mga little snippets sa kanila.

“Through time, nakita ko na, ‘Oh, this works for me [or] this works for me.’

“Until I said, ‘Ah, okay let’s just stop pretending to be ganito,’ and then, nakuha ko na yung confidence ko in a way.”

But being confident and comfortable in his own style did not come without tears and hardwork. 

Robi says, “It takes time pero kailangan you really want it, kasi I had those moments na napaiyak din ako ng mga directors. Itago na natin sa pangalang Mr. M.”

Mr. M is Johnny Manahan, the former head of Star Magic and director of “ASAP Natin ‘To,” as well as other ABS-CBN live shows.

Robi continues, “Countless times, pinaakyat ako sa booth niya. And then, other directors, like director ngShowtime’ right now, si Direk Jon Moll. 

Maraming beses na sinasabihan ako na, ‘You have to do this.’

“‘Direk, how do I do this?’ [They would answer,] ‘I don’t know, that’s your job.’ So I took it as a challenge and then, sige, this is what I wanted to do. I will prove it to you.”

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His own worst critic

How does Robi constantly work on his craft?

“I’m the greatest basher of myself,” the Kapamilya host reveals.

He then says, “So, when people tell me not to look at the comments, baliktad. I really look at the comments. 

“People say you can’t please everyone but, at a certain point, I would love to please everyone. I wanna be that guy. 

“So, I take on that certain pressure na I wanna be the very best in my generation—from the experienced generation and the new generation. I consider myself as a bridge, I guess, of different generations from the subject na in-interview ko o na hino-host ko ng game show to the viewers. 

“So, that’s my way of thinking: I’m the bridge and I’ll be the most excellent bridge of my generation.”

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While Robi considers himself his own worst critic, he still pays attention to others who bash or criticize his way of hosting.

In fact, there are two comments that he will never forget.

He shares, “I don’t recall when pero there was a ‘Luis Manzano copycat,’ and also, ‘Bakit ba nandiyan yan, sayang airtime?’”

For the second one, he remembers what could have triggered the netizen to give out the critique.

“I think [it] happened when I did my first ‘PBB’ stint sa TV and it was the opening. There was Bianca (Gonzalez), Toni (Gonzaga), and then, Ate Mariel (Rodriguez) was absent because she was pregnant and then I had to step up.

Ang ganda ng shot. Si Direk Jon Moll told me na, ‘Nasa taas ka ng van, medyo umuulan, ‘tapos you would deliver your spiels, sea of people. After that, then you turn it over to the next person.’ 

“So, I was like, ‘Okay, I got this!’”

Robi then re-enacts what happened during that episode.

He demonstrates, “Bianca Gonzalez was like, ‘Alam na natin kung sinu-sino ang personalidad na papasok sa loob ng Bahay ni Kuya. Robi.’

“The camera turned red. ‘Okay, this is your moment, Bro.’ 

“’Mga Kapamilya… Ahm, ang ilan sa mga personalities…’ This was the cue card, ano. Akala nila sumasyaw ako ng TikTok or something,” pertaining to how his hand was shaky at that moment. 

Kabadong-kabado ako and after that spiel, ‘Malalaman na natin kung sino ang papasok sa Bahay ni Kuya. Back to you, G!’ 

“Then, the floor director, ‘Basahin mo sinong G!’ ‘Toni G!’ So, right after that, the comments… hindi pa masyadong uso yung Twitter. Buti na lang kasi kung hindi, cancelled na ako!”

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Styled by Dave Arden of Arden Style PH

Robi had another unforgettable blooper while hosting.

He recalls, “Paglabas ko sa Resorts World Manila, Ate Tons was absent during that time. That was me and Alex Gonzaga, and then the first time, ‘Live from the Resorts World Manila, ito ang semi-finals ng ‘The Voice Season One.’ Please welcome your hosts, Alex Gonzaga and Robi Domingo!’”

Robi remembers telling Alex, “Pards, this is it! We’re gonna be the next-gen hosts. This is it!”

But what happened next was something Robi did not expect.

Paglabas ko, I saw a sea of people. Ang ingay! 

“And then, one of the people I consider my father was there, Direk Lauren Dyogi. Sabi ko in my head, ‘You watch and learn. We’re the next ones.’”

He then hears himself saying, “Magandang Kapamilya!”

Robi recalls, “Alex was like, ‘Nakalimutan mo yung gabi!’”

He then just threw a punchline to recover from the blooper: “Magandang Kapamilya ang kasama natin ngayon, good evening!” Robi continues, “But after that, kinain na ako ng lupa! There were lots of boo-boos na ayoko sanang banggitin, but those were learning experiences and unforgettable ones, stories na nangyari sa akin that I can share.”

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New opportunity

Eventually, Robi was able to make a name for himself as a resident TV host of ABS-CBN.

He has hosted a bunch of TV shows, such as “The Voice,” “I Can Do That,” “Dance Kids,” and several seasons of “Pinoy Big Brother.”

Now, he is taking on a new challenge as he hosts his first game show on TV, “Watchawin,” which airs on PIE.

Robi admits there is pressure as he is taking on a new genre.

He says, “It’s my first game show on TV. So, I feel so pressured, especially in that same channel, I get to work with my mentor and my idol Luis Manzano.

“There’s one of my favorite personalities ever—actually, a lot: Bayani Agbayani, Melai Cantiveros, Ate Jolina Magdangal, a lot of the people I look up to.”

As part of his research, Robi looked back at some of the phenomenal game shows on Philippine TV as well as how its hosts pulled off their stints.

“Inaalala ko lang yung feeling ko noong pinapanood ko yung mga great idols ko like Edu Manzano, si Kris Aquino, there’s Christopher de Leon, the greats when it comes to ‘Weakest Link,’ ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,’ and then ‘Game KNB.’ 

“I rewatched some of the videos na ginagawa nila and try to put that element of authority. “Kasi when you host a game show, you have to have that authority and, at the same time, conversation, di ba? Mini talk show din siya, e.”

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Styled by Dave Arden of Arden Style PH

Now that he is considered one of ABS-CBN’s resident TV hosts, Robi still has goals in mind.

“I never considered myself as the best but I want to be part of that group.

“Whenever I go to ABS-CBN, ang laging pumapasok na kanta sa isip ko is ‘Go The Distance,’ and I feel like I keep on trying out. “So I wanna be part of that certain area where sila Kuya Luis, Toni, Bianca—my idols—I want to be part of that club and someday, I will say I made it.”

Photography Wilmark Jolindon
Art and Art Direction Alexandra Lara
Interview and Cover Story Jimpy Anarcon
Styling Arden Style PH
Hair and Makeup Mabeth Concepcion
Special Thanks Deejaye Cuadrado and Frances Laxamana of Star Magic
Ro Manalo and Owen Maddela of PIE Marketing

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