Pinoy Big Brother: ABS-CBN’s Big franchise hit

Oct 10, 2007
Pinoy Big Brother winners (from left, clockwise): Nene Tamayo, winner of Season 1; Keanna Reeves, winner of celebrity edition; Beatriz Saw, winner of season 2; Kim Chiu, winner of teen edition. Will another female housemate emerge as the Big Winner of the upcoming Pinoy Big Brother celebrity edition? The camera begins to roll this Sunday, October 14, 2007.

Everyone awaits the return of another celebrity edition of Pinoy Big Brother, which will begin on October 14, with so much anticipation. Why? Because once again, we get to watch the real-life drama of stars and hear their candidly-said famous quotes.

Remember Keanna Reeves's "KFC" instead of "KSP" (which stands for kulang sa pansin) line last year? Or the shocking "I am gay" revelation of Rustom Padilla? How time flies. The lady, whose "English" became a conversation piece, is now one of ABS-CBN's visible comediennes, and the man, who used to be a movie heartthrob, now has a Best Actor trophy under his belt for playing his first gay role ever.

Pinoy Big Brother is a local version of the worldwide hit franchise Big Brother, which wasinvented by John de Mol. The Philippines is just one of the 70 countries that has its own version of the show.

John de Mol named the show after George Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty Four, where "Big Brother" is the all-seeing, invisible ruler of society. De Mol's production company Endemol developed the show to become a "real life soap opera."

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PBB has the distinction of being the first franchise to be produced and telecast by a local television network. It has also brought to fore a different kind of reality program for Filipino viewers. And now that the batch two of celebrity edition is about to be aired, PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) reminisces the highlights and memorable episodes of Kapamilya network's successful television franchise.

PBB Season 1: Big Winner—Nene "Kumander" Tamayo
Start: August 21, 2005
End: December 10, 2005

The first season began on August 21, 2006, with a grand welcome party for the 12 housemates. The original housemates were: Jason Gainza, Cassandra Ponti, Uma Khouny, Say Alonzo, Franzen Fajardo, Jenny Suico, Chx Alcala, Bob Dela Cruz, Racquel Reyes, JB Magsaysay, and Rico Barrera.

Filipino-American Sam Milby arrived at the Bahay ni Kuya as a late replacement for Jenny, who had to leave due to personal problems. The shy Sam was welcomed in a luau (Hawaiian-style party) and he got a kiss from Chx, obviously smitten with the newcomer.

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As most people predicted, proximity figured in potential love tandems. Sam and Chx became a pair. JB and Say created a connection that eventually led to a serious relationship. Romantic tension also happened between Uma and Cass. Even Kumander Nene couldn't help getting attracted to Mr. Politico, Bob.

While the pairings caused some of the viewers to get kilig, they also earned the ire of the Movie & Television Ratings Classification Board (MTRCB). The board deemed the suggestive dialogues and conversations between the housemates not suitable for Parental Guidance viewing. There were also instances when some of the housemates got intimate with each other, which resulted to a suspension verdict from the mTRCB.

During the early part of the season, Franzen was the viewers' favorite. He was the funny guy, the kenkoy, the kosa in the house. But he was also pasaway so he got evicted from the house.

Another sensation was Fil-Israeli Uma Khouny. He was frank and very blunt in revealing his thoughts to fellow housemates. He also popularized wearing a headband made from the sleeves of a t-shirt.

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Sam, the tongue-tied Fil-Am, became the "crush ng bayan." The guy had the musicality to sing, play the guitar, and compose love songs. His smile, which landed him his toothpaste commercial, was enough to make the girls swoon. The day he was nominated for eviction, a big crowd gathered to see him leave the house.

Chx and Cass were also popular to the male viewers. Chx's "thong" photos circulated on the Internet, while Cass's morena beauty already gave her the chance to play bit roles in the movies and be known as Honey V to FHM readers.

Former OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) Jason and teacher Racquel were known as the good guys. The former had the support of the masa and wanted him to win the big prize.

After 112 days, that's almost four months, of staying inside the Bahay ni Kuya, the Big Four—Nene, Jason, Cass, Uma—were presented to the public. It was Kumander Nene Tamayo who was declared as the big winner of the first edition of the show on December 6, 2006.

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PBB Celebrity Edition: Big Winner—Keanna Reeves
Start: February 5, 2006
End: April 1, 2006

This mixed lot of celebrities from showbiz, music, sports, and fashion was initially perceived as a boring group. Some were known to the public; others were relatively unknown.

The housemates were: Keanna Reeves, John Prats, Bianca Gonzales, Zanjoe Marudo, Budoy Marabiles, Rustom Padilla, Rico Robles, Roxanne Barcelo, Gretchen Malalad, Aleck Bovick, Christian Vasquez, Rudy Fernandez, Mich Dulce, and Angela Calina.

A "back-to-the basics" theme was instituted for the whole 56 days of PBB Celebrity Edition. Housemates walked barefoot inside the house. Wood furniture from Zambales and Batangas were used. Running water from the faucet was not available, so they had to get it from a poso (pump well). Spoons and forks were not used, so they had to eat with their hands. Rice cookers, gas range and stove, and non-stick casseroles and pans were removed from the house, so they cooked their food with palayok, kawa, and of course, firewood.

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Personal problems besetted the family of Cebu-based broadcaster Angela Calina. She was the first housemate to leave the house. An asthma attack caused by anxiety befell the fashion designer Mich Dulce on Day 20 and they had to bring her to a hospital. She wasn't able to return within the 24-hour deadline.

Love also became an issue for some housemates. Apparently, Rico Robles had a thing with actress Roxanne Barcelo before they entered the PBB house. She was an intern at RX 93.1, he was a resident DJ—they had "MU" (mutual understanding).

Also, a budding romance between Y-Speak host Bianca Gonzales and Bench model Zanjoe Marudo caused the Pinoy viewers to go into a frenzy. The couple's whisperings and tight hugs prodded the fans to call the affair Bianjoe. The dusky host though was still in relationship with Lino Cayetano, and this did not sit well with the director, who was viewing everything from outside the house.

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The biggest surprise of this edition was the "gay" revelation of Rustom Padilla. The touching one-on-one session with Keanna Reeves was interrupted however by her ill-timed peeing. Imagine Rustom who was so caught up with his "I am gay" announcement, then Keanna broke the silence and said, "Naiihi ako." And right there in the garden, she peed because she didn't want to leave Rustom. She was reprimanded by Kuya for not using the bathroom.

This was not the first time that Keanna had comic moments in the house. If President George Bush had his "Bushisms," Keanna had her "Keanna-bilisms." One example was when she exclaimed, "It's below the bird!" when she could have said, "below the belt." In another instance, she said to Mich Dulce: "Lahat kasi sa ‘yo big deal! Isa ka kasing KFC...este, KSP pala!"

After 56 days, Keanna endeared herself to the viewers and was declared the Big Winner.

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PBB Teen Edition: Big Winner—Kim Chiu
Start: April 23, 2006
End: June 3, 2006

This edition was held during the summer months of 2006, when teenagers were on vacation. The age range of the housemates was between 14 to 18 years old.

The youngsters who spent their summer in Bahay ni Kuya were Kim Chiu, Mikee Lee, Gerald Anderson, Clare Cabiguin, Jamilla Obispo, Brenda Fox, Matt Evans, Olyn Membian, Fred Pwayan, Joaqui Mendoza, Niña Jose, Bam Romana, Mikki Arceo, and Aldred Gatchalian.

Joaquin Mendoza came as a replacement for Aldred who made a voluntary exit from the house early on. Another substitution occurred when housemate Bam was forcibly evicted for violating some house rules.

Like the first edition, the guys had a way of talking about sex by giving code names. MTRCB's scissors came running to the network, but ABS-CBN was quick to defend the show by saying they were just being kids.

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With the network not doing any reality-based artista show, this edition seemed like a talent search. Most of them instantly drew a legion of fans. Some of the housemates caught the puppy-love bug. Mikee and Kim were a popular team-up. Matt and Olyn also became popular, and their screen pairing eventually led to a real relationship outside the house. Nina, the house's beauty, formed a love triangle with Bam and Fred.

Since they were teens, PBB made it a point for the kids to enjoy their summer vacation. They were given the opportunity to go outside the house, although still isolated from any contact with people. The Big Four—Kim, Gerald, Mikee and Clare—had a grand time on the beaches of Pangasinan.

PBB had a fairy-tale theme for the Big Four which was held at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City. Cebu-bred Kim was overwhelmingly chosen as the Big Winner of this summer sojourn.

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PBB Season 2: Big Winner—Beatriz Saw
Start: February 25, 2007
End: June 25, 2007

The PBB House got bigger since it was used for another reality program of ABS-CBN—the Pinoy Dream Academy, a search for performers. This also gave Kuya more reason and space to experiment with the housemates.

The housemates entered in separate batches. The first six who came inside Kuya's house were Ezekiel Dimaguila, Wendy Valdez, Nel Rapiz, Saicy Aguila, Gee-Ann Abrahan and Mickey Perz. The second batch, who entered separately from day 7 to 12, were Robert Woods, Beatriz Saw, Kian Kazemi, Jasmin Engracia, Bruce Quebral, and Dionne Monsanto.

Four housemates went into the house and were placed in a secret location. Only two of them would be voted by the viewers to stay. Showbiz son Bodie Cruz and Italian-based Maricris Dizon rounded up the last of the 14 housemates. The two others who were not chosen were Jeremy Legaspi and Mikah Dizon.

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But the forced eviction of Maricris would pave the way for the entry of two mothers—Yen Galagnara and Geraldine Javier. The remaining housemates were given the chance to choose who between Yean and Geraldine would stay.

Special house guests entered as well. Tina Semolic came onboard the PBB House via a switch from Big Brother Slovenia. Hannah Eunice Rodriguez was one of the Globe Telecom subscribers who was chosen to live in the PBB House.

The housemates of this edition were flooded with so many tasks to do. There were weekly, daily, personal, and secret tasks. Initially, the weekly tasks for all were particularly hard to accomplish. But they later found the right groove to accomplish the challenges.

Another unique addition to this edition was the Big Red Phone. Each housemate would take turns answering it and they would receive either good news or bad news.

In general, that the housemates got along quite well. But of course, squabbles could not be avoided. Maricris was forcibly evicted for shouting at Bea. Wendy had her spats with other female housemates as competition for the final four slots grew intense.

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In the end, it was Bea, the bubbly Bicolana, who became the Big Winner.

To date, some of the housemates got lucky and found a spot in showbiz. Sam, who just finished his successful soap Maging Sino Ka Man, is considered the biggest produce of the Season 1. Jason, Franzen, and Uma are now known as co-hosts. Say and Cass get bit roles on TV and the silver screen.

Projects begin pouring in again after Keana, Rustom, and John finished their stint at the Bahay ni Kuya. Bianca eventually becomes "boarder ni Kuya," or one of the PBB hosts. Zanjoe is now a famous comedian and leading man who starred in over 16 TV shows and was launched via the movie You Got Me.

Kimerald, the tandem of Kim and Gerald, is currently one of local showbiz's hottest love teams. They recently finished their soap Sana Maulit Muli and their launching movie I've Fallen For You. Matt Evans is the present generation's Pedro Penduko.

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The latest batch are also beginning to invade the showbiz scene. But only Wendy Valdez and Bruce Quebral have become visible so far with Margarita and an upcoming movie. Mickey and Saicy are part of the ASAP dance album.

Indeed, PBB has become a phenomenal TV show in the country and a training ground for celebrity wannabes. Some critics, however, are doubtful about the "totoong drama ng buhay" tagline. They view some of the lines and reactions as "staged" or "exaggerated." Nevertheless, people love it. They talk about it. They watch it.

With the celebrity edition looming over the horizon, we have a challange and a question. Is it going to be as vivid and candid as before? Are the viewers going to meet Kuya, at last?

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Pinoy Big Brother winners (from left, clockwise): Nene Tamayo, winner of Season 1; Keanna Reeves, winner of celebrity edition; Beatriz Saw, winner of season 2; Kim Chiu, winner of teen edition. Will another female housemate emerge as the Big Winner of the upcoming Pinoy Big Brother celebrity edition? The camera begins to roll this Sunday, October 14, 2007.
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