The remaining top 20 contenders in the ongoing StarStruck The Next Level were presented to the members of the entertainment press last December 27 at Studio 3 of GMA-7.
All of them were put in the hot seat and grilled by showbiz writers and columnists, who asked them to reveal secrets and details about their private life.
First is Rich Asuncion who belongs to a poor family. She traveled all the way from Bohol to get a shot at StarStruck. She admitted that financial instability was the main reason why she joined StarStruck.
Then there's Lizzy Pecson who, just two years ago, modeled for a brand of condom. She wanted it known that this did not make her less wholesome. The native of Pampanga said, "I'm [the] grand winner of [a] pageant [at] kinuha po yung pictures ko para i-endorse. Wholesome po ako... For the sake of the pageant [lang yung commercial]." For that pageant, Lizzy was crowned Ms. Lady Premiere.
Jesi Corcuera is perhaps the most interesting among the girls. She is a candidate for the Ultimate StarStruck Sweetheart title—and was quite proud to say that she is a lesbian.
Her critics said she does not have much talent. But she was quick to retort: "Lakas lang ng loob... 'Di ko lang po nalalabas [ang talents ko]. Lahat naman tayo binigyan ng talent ng Diyos."
And should StarStruck ask her to be more "girly," she said that is all right, for now. "Okay lang po, hanggang matapos ang StarStruck. Dun [being a lesbian] ako komportable at dun ako nakilala."
Another contender is Kris Bernal, rumored to be "extra close" to Jesi. Kris denied that there is anything but friendship between them. "Kami po ni Jesi, superfriends. Very friendly [kasi ako], kahit sino pinakikisamahan," she said.
When asked whether she is open to having a relationship with a lesbian, her answer was a straight "Hindi po."
Renee Lascuna of Davao is known as the Iwa Moto of this batch. When asked who is more gorgeous between her and Iwa, she quickly answered, "Ako po. I have nothing against Iwa. Sasabihin ko na ako. Iba opinyon ko."
Asked what makes her a strong contender for the grand prize, she said, "Hindi ako magiging pasaway. May disiplina [ako]. Hindi basis and kagandahan, [dapat] may personality. I have qualities of being a star. Kung gusto mong maging successful, maging mabait ka."
Stef Prescot is considered a "threat" by some of the female contenders. The first question directed at her had to do with the rumor linking her to StarStruck Batch 1 finalist Rainier Castillo. To that, she replied briefly, "Concentrated po ako sa career. Di po ako lumalabas."
Stef used to be part of a singing group called Angels, which was managed by Becky Aguila, the manager of Jennylyn Mercado.
Prompted to say what her edge is over the other contenders, Stef said, "I think it's just my charm, tapos yung pagiging seryoso ko kung kailangan. Eto yung gusto kong gawin..."
Chariz Solomon is a former talent of Jojo Veloso—yes, the talent manager who got involved in the sex scandal tapes in the late '90s. But because of "several misunderstandings" and "miscommunication," the two parted ways.
Chariz, who dreamed of becoming an entertainer in Japan like her mother, also posed for FHM but her pictorial for the number one men's magazine never came out. According to her, she requested FHM not to publish the photos since she is joining StarStruck.
Jean de Castro, who has a strong resemblance to Nancy Castiglione, has a sister suffering from cerebral palsy. Despite her sister's condition, they're very close.
She also disclosed that her mother recently got married to a Fil-American who now supports them financially.
Hazel Uy, who hails from Cebu, is having difficulty speaking Tagalog because of her native tongue. But she compensates it through her talent in singing.
Jewel Mische is a piano major at the University of Sto. Tomas Conservatory of Music. During the press con, it became evident that she's the most articulate in the group given the way she answered the questions--"parang candidate sa beauty pageant," some press people remarked.
Dave Valentino is being compared to Sam Milby because of their looks and talent—singing.
The Fil-Am who has difficulty speaking Filipino said, "I'm being compared to an icon [Sam]."
He also added, "In the States, I have a small-time recording contract. I want to join a contest and see how I grow. I'm career-oriented."
Paulo Avelino pursued his dream of becoming a celebrity without the blessings of his family. A former print and commercial model, the Baguio-born hopeful said he joined Starstruck because the opportunity was there.
Prince Stefan is claiming to be the son of a prince from Saudi Arabia. He said that his first goal in joining StarStruck was to find his father. Prince has yet to meet his father who he only saw in a picture. "Magkamukha po kami," he said.
Kiko Junio of Pampanga is said to be the bad boy of the group. His name is already being linked to Mikaela Espinosa of the Baywalk Bodies. He clarified: "Nagkakasabay lang kami ng pagbalik sa office."
Asked to choose between a career and a lovelife, his reply was: "Career. Automatic na may lovelife ka e."
Kiko's father is currently in jail for drug possession.
Aljur Abrenica, a Pampangueño, is an early favorite in the competition and considered to be a threat by the other boys. To this, he said, "Natutuwa po ako. May kapalit po yung pinaghirapan ko, na may ibubuga ako."
Cavite's Mart Escudero used to be an ABS-CBN talent. He is currently being managed by Popoy Caritativo, the manager of Dennis Trillo. Mart has already appeared in Qpids and Anghel na Walang Langit. He said his goal is to reach the stature of Dennis.
Chad Burden, who grew up in Holland, was an underwear model before he joined StarStruck. When asked if he is willing to show some skin on TV, "I'm not yet ready for it," was his answer.
Lui Perez of Cotabato gives the impression of being "mayabang." To this, Lui said that he is just being himself and that he cannot please everybody.
Manila boy Dex Quindoza is said to be not in good terms with two of his StarStruck batchmates--Kiko and Lui. The cause is believed to be Dex's closeness to the girls, particularly Jewel.
The last hunk is Jan Manual, an Ilonggo. For a guy, he has the unusual nickname of "Puding"--short for "pusong bading." He explained that he got the nickname from his friends who thought that he is gay—but Jan swears that he is not.
That's just a glimpse into their private lives--tune in for more StarStruck updates!