Pinoy Big Brother has been a phenomenon like no other in Philippine Pop Culture. Millions have watched and voted week to week, involving themselves in the day to day issues of the housemates. We saw heartfelt confessions, cat fights ablaze, and love bloom. Not to mention, the occasional lice infestation. But more importantly, it has been a steady producer of ABS-CBN’s bankable talents namely Sam Milby, Kim Chiu, Gerald Anderson and Toni Gonzaga (her first big break after moving from GMA). Every season is met with thousands upon thousands of hopefuls wanting to change their life’s’ fortunes.
Winning PBB means so much more to us. It’s amazing how different Big Brother is perceived here compared to other countries. Other cultures see it as a voyeuristic late-night show, but for us Filipinos, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. You get your fifteen minutes of fame, live in a decked out house/villa AND a chance to win a hefty cash prize, a house, a scholarship, a kabuhayan showcase and an ABS-CBN talent contract!
But how does one become a Big Winner? Do you need to outwit, outplay and outlast? Or dream, believe, survive? If the show’s tagline can give us a hint, “Ang Teleserye ng Totoong Buhay”, does it mean that TRUTHFULNESS is the key in becoming a Big Winner? For seasons, PBB housemates have been throwing the N-word, “Nagpapakatotoo”, every chance they could. It is as if they’re telling the audience, “Guys, sinabi ko yung magic word. Pwedeng iboto ninyo na ako?” However, if you’ve noticed the housemates featured in this video, not one of them became a Big Winner. The Big Winner is still determined by the viewers. And without undergoing a philosophical discourse, determining the truth in a reality TV show while you sit on your sofa can be difficult. So what can we do?
We can start by looking at the profiles of all the Big Winners through the show’s eleven-season run. Using the comprehensive data from the wikipedia pages of Pinoy Big Brother (yes wikipedia is not the most reputable of sources but just look at the wealth of data there) and my understanding of percentages, we can somehow profile the Big Winner.
Please note that the results are INCONCLUSIVE. A sample size of 11 can establish patterns but it is NOT ENOUGH TO BE CONCLUSIVE. It’s like how people noticed the White Guy With Guitar trend of American Idol winners.
It seems that being a young, female from Visayas can probably get you support from the audience. Three Big Winners (33% of all Big Winners) fit all three categories (Nene Tamayo, Kim Chiu and Myrtle Sarrosa) and have received an average of 41.40% of the votes during their respective finales.
What other nuggets can we get from the data?
- Being young seems to be a key. Among all eleven, Keanna Reeves (36) is the only Big Winner above 25 years old. This is telling information considering that the age range for regular auditions is 18-35 years old.
- Having a province can be an advantage. Out of all the Big Winners, Daniel Matsunaga (Makati City) is the only Big Winner hailing from NCR. And we all know he’s from Brazil. If you’re an aspiring housemate, use your father or mother’s home province. Regionalism is still significant in the country, use it to your advantage.
- Out of all eleven seasons, the magic percentage of total votes to be a Big Winner is 33.7%. More than half of the Big Winners received more votes than the aforementioned number (Nene, Keanna, Bea Saw, Ejay Falcon, Slater Young and Myrtle)
Okay, but does that mean the Young Woman from Visayas always get through? Not really. Excluding the Celebrity Housemates, there were 15 other housemates that fit the Young Woman from Visayas profile, and nine of them got cut before reaching the finals.
We also have to look at the qualities of the housemate. Being a fan and relatively frequent viewer of the show, I’ve identified five key characteristics of a Big Winner. I attributed each characteristic to each Big Winner and counted the attributes that fit. Surprisingly, some trends came out. I’ll explain each characteristic afterwards
A Big Winner, at his/her most basic, must be able to get the viewer’s attention. They can be good-looking, funny or, like Kim Chiu, can turn into a pretzel. More often than not, these were the housemates that you already took note of starting from day one. Kim, the chinese cutie entered with all smiles. Melai Cantiveros, wide-eyed and amazed with the house. Daniel Matsunaga lying in the middle of the pool doing his best sleeping beauty impression while the sun was up.
These were the housemates with the most celebrity potential. Kim became a primetime telenovela talent. Melai just won Your Face Sounds Familiar. Bea inherited the Best Friend role in Star Cinema movies from Nikki Valdez. James Reid is currently part of popular loveteam with 3 hit movies and 2 albums under his belt.
MAY KONEK SA MANONOOD
More than just getting the viewers’ attention, Big Winners are able to maintain that attention. So much so that they can elicit a response from the viewer (like a tweet or an FB post). What are these factors then? .
- MABUTING HOUSEMATE: A Big Winner maintains a harmonious relationship with his/her fellow housemates. They’re considered as friendly authority figures inside the house and/or active participants in tasks. These are housemates that stay away from cat fights. Since they’re in such good terms with their housemates, they are rarely included in the list of nominees.
Being a good housemate touches on the Filipinos’ collectivistic attitude. Our inclination towards harmony and togetherness. We revere people who include the betterment of the many in mind. And we are wary of people who try to disrupt this harmony. Housemates who are perceived as “tamad”, “tahimik”or “nagsisimula ng gulo” are those who get nominated. How about the Big Winner? Big Winners only get nominated at an average of twice per season. Kim Chiu and Ejay Falcon maintained zero nominations during their stints in the house.
- CAN RELATE ANG BACKSTORY: Looking at comments of people on the internet, they would often say that the Big Winners are those who usually come from low-income families and used their “paawa backstory” to win. If so, why did the likes of James Reid, Slater Young and Myrtle Sarrosa win? They came from well-enough families and yet people voted for them.
This goes back to what I was saying about having a connection with the audience. PBB Celebrity Edition 2 winner, Ruben Gonzaga, was a father who just wanted to provide a better future for his family. Ejay Falcon was a simple teen from the province who wanted to look for his biological parents.Slater lived in the shadows of his father and wanted to strike out on his own. These stories are not unique. These are stories that the viewers themselves may also experience. Hence, viewers root for housemates they can identify with.
- Mayroong Ka-Love Team: It’s no secret that Filipinos are romantics. Nothing spices up a story any better than finding some form of love inside the house. Kimerald (Kim-Gerald) and Melason (Melai-Jason) are top of mind love teams that involved Big Winners. But what separates a Big Winner love team than Bruce-Wendy love team is that the Big Winner is usually the anchor of the love team. Kim decided between Gerald and Mikee Lee. And for Melason, it can be argued that the only reason her partner, Jason Francisco, was even part of the Big Four was because of his relationship with Melai.
Summarizing the three points, a Big Winner is able to create a bond with the viewer. This explains the “nagpapakatotoo” factor. A viewer feels that a housemate is “nagpapakatotoo” when the viewer finds commonalities with the housemate…the need to experience harmony, the want to be loved and/or the idea of having a story tell…these are the instances when the viewer is able to see the human side of the housemate.
summing it up
So what have I laid down:
- Chances seem higher if you’re a YOUNG, WOMAN from VISAYAS
- It seems a Big Winner should not just have entertainment value but also able to establish a human connection with the audience. something that can compel viewers to not only watch but also root for him/her.
In other words, a Big Winner is more or less just like Katniss Everdeen. It’s not enough you come from the poorest district, and be nifty with a bow. You also need a Peeta to ship with and a dress that can catch on fire.
POST SCRIPT: BASED ON THE ANALYSIS, WHO THEN IS THE ULTIMATE BIG WINNER?
Among all eleven housemates, Kim Chiu ticks almost all boxes:
- Fits the profile of the Young Woman from Visayas
- Had the charm and talent
- Never a part of the nominees list
- Had a strong love team
And this is also quite evident with the career she’s having after exiting the house. Arguably, she’s having the best showbiz career out of all the PBB Big Winners. Think of her as Kelly Clarkson, while Melai and James as David Cook and Kris Allen.