On May 20, 2015, there was an announcement on the Mensa Philippines FB page that the TV5 show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is on its 14th season and is looking to partner up with Mensa Philippines for a special “Genius” set of episodes.
I had been a trivia geek all my life and I had longed to join WWTBAM ever since the Christopher de Leon days so many years ago. Never had the guts of doing it back then, or now, when it re-emerged with Vic Sotto as quizmaster. I felt this would be the best opportunity to fulfill a longtime dream.
Our only group photo on testing day
On May 31, the audition for the candidates was held at the TV5 Media Center in Mandaluyong City. The call time was 2 pm. We were about 15 or so Mensan aspirants there, many of whom I have met only for the first time, since I was not really a very active member of the organization.
By around 3pm, we were asked to fill out a long detailed application form by hand. Later, we were given a twenty item Multiple Choice quiz about various trivial topics. Finally, they took individual video interviews of us, I guess to gauge our personalities. After this, we would just be waiting for the final announcement as to who will be chosen.
There would be no news from TV5 for a long time after that day. Until suddenly, on July 15, the fateful text message arrived! I was one of the five people chosen to play. However, it was immediately qualified that I was only in the backup slot. I was told that the crew won't be going to my house after all to shoot a VTR of me. By then, I already knew that I would be the last in line to play.
Despite that, I was still given an outfit peg for taping day. I had to bring 4 sets of clothing that reflected "New York in Autumn" like Richard Gere in "Pretty Woman" (yeah, right!). LOL! I was even emailed a photograph of what my outfit should look like. My shirt had to be orange or fuschia. Clothes with those bright colors of course are not really found in my wardrobe.
Our only group photo that taping day
July 20 came. Call time is 1 pm. I did not go to work anymore that Monday to make that call time. I brought my Dad with me as my in-studio companion as I knew he would also enjoy this experience. When we reached TV5 Studio along Quirino Highway in Novaliches, we parked across the street in SM Novaliches as advised. Fortunately this parking would be free for the whole day. While waiting for the actual taping, we were given videos of old WWTBAM games to watch, as well as oriented on the rules by the friendly staff.
By about 6 pm, our first contestant went on stage already with host Vic Sotto -- this was it! We were seated backstage watching the proceedings. The game with our first contestant was intensely high drama from his second question about where Tap water came from! This was really very good TV because you will want to see how what would happen in his game. The first game ended with a question about the color of Luigi's cap.
Our second contestant went on to take her turn. But by her she fourth question, the time for episode 1 ran out. She will continue his game in the next episode which will be taped later on that same night.
My view of Bossing from backstage
We waited for another hour or so before the taping for the next episode began. Despite the slimness of chances that I will go on, my final outfit was checked and I still had a run-through of my script with the production assistant in case I get a chance to sit and play.
Our second contestant had changed her outfit already to give the illusion that a week had passed. Her game ended with a question about the name of Wonder Woman's lasso. Our third contestant then started his turn. Again, this would be another very tense game as it transpired. His game concluded with question about the name of Ariana Grande's character in the TV show "Victorious". Our fourth contestant got to sit and play! His game was going very smoothly when the episode time eventually ran out and he would have to return another day for the taping of the next episode.
So that was the end of the line for me. Our organization was only good for two episodes, so that was it. I was told I would have to audition all over again if I wanted to play again. I was given P500 for my transportation allowance. I immediately texted my three friends whom I had invited to be my Phone-A-Friend lifeline, all of whom had stayed awake waiting for me. We left the studio past 10:30 pm already. Too bad, we were not able to get a photo with Bossing as we were initially planning.
My one chance to sit on the Hotseat
So with that I end my account of my close brush with the hotseat that never came. I will not deny it was disappointing to come so close to fulfilling a longtime dream, yet it still did not come to pass. Oh well, that's the way life goes. I guess I will just have to earn my million pesos in other ways.
On watching the episodes on TV aired on August 2 and August 8, it would be noted that the editing done on each episode was so seamlessly good. You will barely detect that any time lapsed between question and answer. Even when in the studio, the contestants were taking their time thinking and deciding on their final answer, you cannot see that on TV. That is indeed the magic of television.