TOP LIST: Reality-Show Talents on a Roll

IMAGE Noel Orsal


Kim Chiu, Aljur Abrenica, Jennylyn Mercado and Gerald Anderson are among those who found their niche in showbiz after joining reality-TV competitions like Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition and Starstruck. Meanwhile, who among them tops PEP’s list of reality-show talents?


The rise of reality star-search shows has been unstoppable over the past decade. Keeping track of who the contestants are, more so, the grand winners of each season or edition of a particular program has become tedious. There are just too many of them!

Discovering a star— a standout, the most talented, the fairest of them all— is a formidable task!

Once the grand winner of a particular reality show is crowned, he or she goes on to compete with the existing stars of a network and that network’s rival station, and that is only when the real competition begins.

Reality shows are not a guarantee for instant movie projects, a primetime teleserye, or an endorsement. After either bowing out or emerging as the competition’s champion, the challenge to become bigger than that “Ultimate Survivor,” “First Prince,” or “Big Winner” title arises. It’s a ‘slow boat to China,’ becoming famous.

However difficult it is to achieve star status, some go on to make a name. Be it their destiny, luck, or hard work, a few have proven that fame is achievable. Thus PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) credits these reality-show talents with this Top List.

ROUND-UP OF THE SHOWS. Coming up with this list is insane. For one thing, delineating the parameters and setting the criteria for selecting those who make it to the list, takes arduous work considering the number of reality shows in this country.

Programs such as Extra Challenge and Fear Factor (franchised from the United States original production), aired in early 2000, popularized the reality-show format by pitting contestants against each other in physical challenges.

But the star search— a competition that aims to discover the potential next big actor or actress— began with GMA-7’s Starstruck in 2003, followed by rival network ABS-CBN’s Star Circle Quest in 2004. These two programs eventually bred their chldrens’ competition counterparts, Star Circle Kid Quest and Starstruck Kids, which both aired in 2004.

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In 2005, Big Brother, a worldwide TV franchise first aired in the Netherlands, came into Philippine television. Renamed Pinoy Big Brother, the ABS-CBN program is perhaps the most popular reality show Filipinos have come to know. The show features an isolated group of 12 to 20 contestants living in the same house and closely being followed by cameras over a span of three months. Similar to the kids’ game, Simon Says, the contestants must outdo each other as they receive weekly and daily task instructions from a certain “Kuya” who functions as the game master.

Meanwhile, a close competition of Pinoy Big Brother in rival network GMA-7 is Survivor Philippines. The reality game-show franchise’s main appeal is its contestants being thrown into the wilderness where they try to outsmart and outlive each other. The Philippine version was first aired in 2008.

The aforementioned reality shows are what led to the influx of other international TV franchises today such as Master Chef, X Factor, and Amazing Race. Moreover, the said programs, especially Starstruck and Star Circle Quest, set a standard for a major network to own a talent-search reality show of its own. For instance, TV5 in 2010 came out with Star Factor which had 18 aspiring talents in competition.

This 2012, GMA-7’s Protégé and TV 5’s Artista Academy made the presence of reality star-search shows felt in Philippine television.

PEP’s Top List is limited to reality-TV competitions, excluding the reality singing shows Star for a Night, Pinoy Pop Superstar, Star in a Million, and their international franchise counterparts X Factor, Pinoy Got Talent, and the like. The top artists in these singing competitions deserve a separate top list, of course, as OPM is a different thriving facet of the entertainment industry.

CRITERIA. Can popularity be measured? Is the success of an artist even calculable?

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By what factors exactly? These thoughts stumped the PEP editorial staff while coming up with this Top List.

Upon recalling the previous reality shows’ winners and non-winners, an initial list of those who successfully managed to find their niche in showbiz, those who generally left a mark in the public’s consciousness as celebrities, an acceptable “Artista!” in their eyes, got into the first cut.

The initial list of about 40 reality-show talents naturally had to be narrowed down to about 20— those who would in fact make it to the Top List. That’s when the PEP team started debating intensely among ourselves— editor versus editor, staffer versus editor, staffer versus staffer. The arguing became even more extreme when it was time to finally set the ranking while each of us had his/her own ranking in mind.

Crucial in completing the Top List were the criteria PEP came up with. We went for the most quantifiable factors that make an actor an actor: the number of television shows he/she has done, be it a talk show or a teleserye (did he play lead or support?), the number of movies she starred in as part of the main or supporting cast, lastly by the number of endorsements.

Still, other questions were raised before an actor had a secure place in the list: Did the talent instantly get a project right after joining the contest? Did he have to play several supporting roles prior to landing a lead? How long did that take? Has he managed to be consistent? Has she managed to be relevant over the years?

Gruelling, yes. And yet it was done.

THE HONOR ROLL. It is without a doubt that the Kapamilya network’s primetime princess Kim Chiu, ranks first in PEP’s top list of reality-show artists. Since becoming the first grand winner of Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition in 2006, the Cebuana-Chinese beauty has top-billed six primetime teleseryes and starred in seven films. Kim was likewise included in YES! Magazine’s top 20 list of endorsers of 2011, which lined her up with A-listers Kris Aquino, Judy Anne Santos, and Marian Rivera.

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Pinoy Big Brother alumni Gerald Anderson, Sam Milby, and Zanjoe Marudo join Kim in the top five of the list. Gerald, who was runner-up in Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition 1, has exhibited his ever improving acting in five primetime soaps— Budoy, his most applauded yet— likewise, in six films where he played the leading man of Kim and singer-actress Sarah Geronimo.

What clinched for Sam Milby a top spot in the list was his metaphoric rise to fame since being booted out of Pinoy Big Brother Season 1 in 2005. The singer-actor landed a lead role as he starred in his first soap, Maging Sino Ka Man, likewise in Dyosa, Only You, and Idol. In the film department, the same is true of Sam who top-billed Close To You with Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd. He also played lead in Star Cinema films You Are The One, You Got Me, My Big Love, And I Love You So, and Babe I Love You.

The career of model turned actor Zanjoe Marudo, meanwhile, saw a gradual rise to star status. What got the Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition alumnus a high score are the television and movie projects he consistently got since emerging as a runner-up of the said reality show in 2006. While he played supporting roles in his 2007 shows, by 2008 Zanjoe already played lead in the soaps Dyosa, The Wedding, Florinda, Lovers in Paris, and in two Precious Hearts Romance series Love is Only in the Movies and Kristine. He, too, was able to land leading man roles in the films You Got Me, Wedding Tayo Wedding Hindi,and Kimmy Dora. At the Metro Manila Film Festival 2012, Zanjoe is part of the main cast of film entry One More Try.

Jennylyn Mercado, Starstruck’s first Female Ultimate Survivor, lands the fourth place in PEP’s top list. Since winning in 2003, the singer/actress/talk show host has regularly been starring in Kapuso soaps such as Super Twins, Ikaw Sana, and most recently, Makapiling Kang Muli. The beautiful Jen has made her mark as an actress in the films Blue Moon, Working Girls, and Rosario.

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Others who make it to PEP’s Top 15 reality-show artists are GMA-7’s most reliable love pair Aljur Abrenica and Kris Bernal, winners of Starstruck Season 4 who recently starred in the primetime soap Coffee Prince; Erich Gonzales, who perhaps is the only Star Circle Quest alumna who acquires a spot in the list; and Cristine Reyes who steadily journeyed from being a Starstruck underdog to becoming a prominent sexy actress.

Meanwhile, Survivor Philippines runner-up Solenn Heussaff makes an unexpected presence in the honor roll. The model/fashion designer/talk show host/actress’ endorsements secures her the tenth place in the list.

Sharing the eleventh spot are Starstruck alumni Rocco Nacino and Paulo Avelino, whose starring roles in the independent film Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa caught the attention of the industry. While Rocco played lead in teleseryes Koreana, Time of My Life, The Good Daughter, and Yesterday’s Bride; Paulo was able to exhibit his acting skills in the primetime soap Walang Hanggan and in the films Aswang, Yesterday Today Tomorrow, and soon in The Bride, The Lover.

Alden Richards, GMA-7’s fast rising talent, is another surprise entry in the Top List. While he never even made it to the top 12 finalists of Starstruck in 2009, the bedimpled charmer already got to play lead in the top-rating soaps Alakdana and One True Love. The actor’s boyish charm and robust bod earned for him an endorsement for Folded & Hung clothing line early this year.

Finally, child actresses Xyriel Manabat and Bea Binene complete the Top List as they land the fourteenth and fifteenth place.

Xyriel, 7, is already an award-winning actress whose soaps Agua Bendita, 100 Days to Heaven, and Momay achieved high marks in television ratings. Among the talented Xyriel’s films are Ang Tanging Ina Mo and A Mother’s Story. Meanwhile, tween actress Bea, boasts lead roles in GMA-7’s soaps Alice Bungisngis, Luna Blanca, and Cielo de Angelina. Bea is also among the endorsers of local clothing brand BUM.

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