Coming from a successful teleserye and world tour, James Reid and Nadine Lustre are back with their fourth feature film. This Time’s about two childhood friends, Ava and Coby who only see each other every summer. Eventually, as years went on, their relationship blossomed- but not without obstacles and roadblocks.
Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the writing and direction of OTWOL so much because This Time felt flat and unpolished. The flow of the movie was uneven with flashbacks and asides dispersed throughout its two-hour run that messed up the main plot. Much so that I couldn’t identify the film’s rising action, climax, falling action, etc. I can’t say anything wrong with James, Nadine and everyone else in the cast because they did all they could with the source material that was given. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to make a satisfying movie experience.
Shout outs, Call outs and Watch outs:
Call out that loooooooooong flashback. It was basically half of the film. If you were going to use a flashback as a plot device, at least have the decency to tell your audience when the flashback ends. It was hard to tell how far in the future the first ten minutes was.
Although shout out to the foreign pop culture references in each year. You don’t often hear Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt’s breakup or the H1N1 scare in a Filipino movie. It could have been better if they also included local pop culture references. Like have Ava ask Coby to watch Diary Ng Panget (plus points for meta-humor)
Again shout out to the casting. Al Tantay’s always a lock to be the dad. And I was pleasantly surprised to see Candy Pangilinan in a nanay role. So much spunk and energy than the usual talents typecasted as the protagonist’s mother.
Shout out to Ronnie Lazaro who played Ate Bi, the gay owner of the cornerstore near Ava’s place. I know Ronnie Lazaro for his taong grasa roles and I haven’t seen him in such a role as this.
Shout out to Donnalyn Bartolome embodying the spunky bestfriend role. When will they give her a leading role?
Shout out to the musical director of the film. Who wouldn’t dance to Donna Cruz’s rendition of Langit Na Naman?
Watch out for that Skype call scene between Ava and Coby. Nadine is still the worst person to talk to on Skype
Biggest call out: using The Beard trope as the final issue to test their relationship. Seriously, it’s one of the easiest issues to clear up. The gay guy (in this case Bret Jackson’s character) just has to properly explain the situation. But based on the film’s logic, being a beard is a far worse issue than balancing priorities with love
Calling out also the decision to suddenly include Japan in the story. Of all places why Japan? It wasn’t clear why Ophelia (Nova Villa) went to Japan.
Also, why did they introduce the Ambassador Summer Lolo and Ophelia love story in the middle of the film all? And as if the Lolo and Ophelia had almost the same weight as the Coby and Ava story. Their happily ever after was tied closely to Lolo and Ophelia’s happily ever after.
Call out sa Cornetto. Yes we know na major sponsor kayo ng film
This Time is now showing in cinemas nationwide in the Philippines
I have to start with this: watching Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis yesterday was my first time to ever view a Lav Diaz film. I knew nothing of Lav Diaz’s style nor his previous works. All I knew was that he’s an internationally-respected director known for excessively long films. That’s it. Hele wasn’t even in my consciousness before a week ago, when I learned that John Lloyd Cruz was part of the film. Being a self-proclaimed Lloydieologist (yeah I’m coining this), I felt the urge to watch it. The man continues to challenge his talents, and you just have to respect that. An invite from my friends on Good Friday night was the last push I needed to watch the film.
Fast forward to Saturday night, and let’s just say I wasn’t satisfied with my experience. I left the theater with a slight dead leg from all the sitting and a head messed up by all the “why????”s I thought. Most prominently were “why did the movie take 8 hours???” and “why did we need to see Basilio (Sid Lucero) digging for 5 mins?”. Don’t get me wrong, I did see positives in the movie. There were scenes and shots that made sense to me (i.e. Simoun on the raft). And I liked the idea of the universe it’s set in: a Filipinas where the lines of history, fiction and superstition intersect. I could just imagine how much stories we can mine from the universe Diaz posited. However,these were just a tiny fraction of the 8 hours we spent. Maybe it also didn’t help that I was also disappointed by my first taste of Halal Guys? Here’s a short review:
Halal Guys Falafel + Chicken Combo: Falafel felt unevenly cooked. Pita was cold. — Two stars
While eating, I just couldn’t help the feeling that that was it. I eventually went online to find out why film critics were raving about it. In between the spoonfuls of mixed rice, diced tomatoes, onion, chicken and falafel were “huh?”s of disagreement. I just could not see what they saw in the film. I gave up and just concluded that I’m just really basic when it comes to highbrow films.
Wait, how about JLC? Oh, John Lloyd was obviously great. Here’s a short review:
John Lloyd Cruz in Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis: Sold his role of Isagani well. Highlights include his street urchin under the bridge and eating sapsap scenes. Though his crying were suspiciously similar to his other films (see A Second Chance). — Four in a half stars
That night, I just couldn’t help the feeling that I was disappointed by Hele. I even ended up watching Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati on DVD to cleanse myself of the feeling of lugi. (A Sana Dati short review? Nah, I’ll just write another post on my thoughts on it.)
But Sana Dati wasn’t enough. Hele was still in my head. Perhaps having eight hours and five minutes staring at the black and white large screen was enough for the movie to burrow itself into my consciousness. I tried to sleep it off but it was still there. A breakfast of McDonald’s hotcakes wasn’t enough. There was just something fundamental in me that the film was protesting to. Through reading all the currently available pieces and watching a few cast and director interviews about the movie, I’ve come to realize that, maybe, I was ultimately unprepared experience the film.
In a press conference for the film that was reported by Rappler, iconic actor, Bernardo Bernardo said “Ang unang-unang masasabi ko, you learn that you don’t watch a Lav Diaz film. You experience a Lav Diaz film.”
And it is true. Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis generally broke the conventions of what I thought a film should be that I just can’t consider it to be a movie anymore.It was meant to be an experience. It was written, shot and edited to be an experience. And just like any life experience, you need to have some kind of preparation to grasp it fully.
So here I am writing this piece in the hopes of directing people to a better way of appreciating Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis. Its imperative to guide people on how to properly experience it. This is after all, Diaz’s first film to be widely distributed locally. A lot of Filipinos would no doubt try watching it, like me. And may end up dissatisfied; like me. Or worse, reject this kind of artistry.
So here are my tips for people who are interested in watching Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis:
1. The movie is a challenge but not a #HeleChallenge
To be honest, Hele is indeed a hard sell for the casual moviegoer. So to encourage some action from the audience to watch the film, Hele is currently marketed as the #HeleChallenge because of its long runtime. A film not for the faint of heart nor for people with small bladders. Like finishing the film alone will grant you some new world perspective. Well, a part of me fell for that. I remember joking while we had lunch before the movie that they should have “I Survived Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis” shirts available after the movie. A proof my superficial greatness that I wear with pride.
I don’t know how to sell this movie to the public but marketing it as #HeleChallenge is kind of problematic. Turning the experience into a social media challenge can inhibit a viewer to enjoy the movie’s depths. Social Media Savvy Sam can just go in the theater and think, “if the #challenge is to withstand the movie for 8hrs 05mins, then maybe I could just skim through it.”
Hele is a challenge because it doesn’t have the “comforts” of a mainstream film. It tries to fight against what you believe are the norms of cinema. The movie doesn’t have color, nor narration, nor background music,nor special effects. Ninety-six percent (of course a rough estimate) was shot with a static camera (you know that a scene is of importance when the camera does move). It’s a movie about a revolution but the revolution happens off-screen. Funny how this opened alongside Batman v Superman.
2. Refrain from using your left brain
This tip goes back to my experience of leaving the theater having a bajillion questions left unanswered. I remember asking my friend what was the reasoning behind the back and forth between the journeys of the two parties. Or the significance of each scene in the movie in building the finale.
Living in the information and technology age has framed our minds to process things in a problem-solution mindset. That things follow certain logic and are meant to be explained. But in truth, there are some things that are better felt than explained or rationalized.
Expecting things to be neatly explained or having rhyme or reason in Hele is a stretch. Do remember that history, mythology and fiction already coexist in this universe. Bonifacio’s death and whereabouts is as strong a myth as the belief of Bernardo Carpio’s as the ultimate weapon against the Spaniards. In other words, logic doesn’t fit that much in Hele. Instead of wondering about plot consistency of Hele, I’d like you to suspend disbelief and examine what it will make you feel instead.
3. (If you’re a millennial) Leave your millennial-iness at the door
In the middle of hour 1 and 2, having a sense of the movie’s pace, one of my friends and I discussed what else we could have done instead of watching the movie. Apparently, we could have roughly reached Dubai by the time the film finished. I also thought how in 8 hours I could have played The Division and powerleveled my character to level 30, or how I could have binge-watch a substantial chunck of Daredevil season 2.
During hour 6 and 7, I discussed with another friend of mine how the film is so inefficient. How so much of the movie can be trimmed so it can fit the two-hour runtime norm. How I’d basically cut Ely Buendia and his singing, Basilio’s digging, and Gregoria De Jesus’s party walking aimlessly through the dense jungle.
Lav Diaz in the same press conference mentioned above said how the 8 hours will easily pass by, especially when you immerse yourself in the film. Boy, did Lav overestimated the attention span of audiences. But somehow, of course in hindsight, I kind of understand what Diaz said. Part of the audience’s immersion into this histo-mythi-fictional world is to also feel its pace. 19th century Filipinas was far from the pace we’re used to. It adds to the authenticity (having a still camera placed at a distance) of its voyeurism wherein the audience must patiently waits for the subjects. The characters are not there to perform for an audience. Let the film take its time and your patience will be rewarded by a different experience.
(FUN FACT: I originally intended to name this piece as “How My 21st Century Brain Could Not Understand Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis“)
So that’s it. Have fun with Hele!
Sapsap in English is Slipmouth fish. kewl.
Joel Saracho aka Mama Lou of OTWOL as Karyo!
Cherie Gil and Angel Aquino for being the most beautiful Tikbalangs ever
Nico Antonio as part of Quiroga’s entourage
That Tikbalang ligaw scene was the stuff dreams are made of
Indie Moneyshot: That scene where Tikbalang Angel Aquino hissed and intentionally shoved the crucifix away to get a candle from Rosario’s makeshift altar.
Hele’s boiled bananas is to Snow White’s magic apple
Indie Moneyshot 2: That scene where the Tikbalangs were making fun of the Colorum’s service
Awful sales pitch for the movie: Hele is when you take all the Sam and Frodo scenes in all LOTR films and multiply it by two.
The show’s creator and star, Rachel Bloom is a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Best Actress award winner.
If you want some #PinoyPride fuel, Crazy Ex has two Filipino characters: the male lead, Josh Chan and his moral compass priest friend, Father Brah. Both characters are also played by Fil-Am actors Vince Rodriguez III and Rene Gube (of Ground Floor) respectively.
The Gist: Jerrod Carmichael and his girlfriend, Maxine contend with the meddling of Jerrod’s family in topics that cover gun control, religion and Bill Cosby
Why you should watch this: Behind the family sitcom presentation and the rapid-fire jokes, The Carmichael Show is pretty much a topical discussion of the biggest issues we face right now. Though it usually doesn’t give a concrete conclusion in the end of each episode, it does give you a full view of all the possible sides of a topic.
Highlights: Jerrod’s dad’s pop culture jokes and definitely the Bill Cosby episode (speaking of a full view without a definite conclusion).
Run-time: 286 mins (13 episodes so far)
The Gist: Togetherness tells the story of Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle (Melanie Lynskey), Brett’s childhood best friend Alex (Steve Zissis), and Michelle’s sister Tina (Amanda Peet).
Why you should watch this: Out of all the comedies that discuss the affluent and complex lives of Los Angelenos (You’re The Worst, Transparent, Love) Togetherness feels the earnest. There’s something with how the Duplass brothers piece together each scene to exude something so warm. Also, Alex and Brett probably has the best balanced bromance on TV aside from Dev and Arnold of Master of None.
Highlights: Season 01’s Kick The Can episode and the awesome use of James Blake’s Wilhelm Scream in its finale.
4. Shake, Rattle and Roll Marathon
Run-time: roughly 1,170 mins (13 films from SRR3 to SRR15)
The Gist: The longest-running horror anthology that spooked the shit out of you when you were a kid is now available on HOOQ!
Why you should watch this: There was a time when Shake, Rattle and Roll was really good. Recent attempts in making it more family-friendly watered down its appeal. But hey, now you can watch the franchise’s progression from nightmare fuel to MMFF fodder.
Highlights: SRR III when the undin eats Ai-Ai Delas Alas’s whole body.
5. John Lloyd Romance Film Marathon
Run-time: roughly 630 mins (6 films namely Now That I Have You, Close To You, One More Chance, A Very Special Love, Miss You Like Crazy and My Amnesia Girl)
The Gist: In case you want to follow our John Lloyd Hypothesis, you can watch most of JLC’s films on HOOQ.
Why you should watch this: JLC’s arguably the biggest romance film guy we have. Most of us grew up idolizing him for being the sensitive, charming guy. But sadly, there’s something awfully wrong with his characters. Go through these films to see how JLC makes manipulative and emotionally dependent characters to compelling and sensitive dudes.
Highlights: Aside from One More Chance, My Amnesia Girl has the biggest grand gestures and the most emotionally dependent JLC character.
As a movie, no doubt about it, Ang Taba Ko Kasi, was entertaining to watch. It was finally time, Cai Cortez and Ryan Yllana, two talents often typecast as supporting characters to get their break. But what really got me was how it was able to capture what it feels like to be a fat person in the country. Being a fat person myself, it was nice that a film finally validated my experiences. Experiences that other people may dismiss or find laughable, but rung painfully true to someone like me. So here’s a rundown of things I noticed that the film touched on about being fat:
*SPOILER ALERT: I may end up giving away the plot of the whole movie*
1. We use the mirror the same way other people use it
In the film: One recurring bit in the movie was how Olga (Cai Cortez) would often look at herself in the mirror while making faces or playing with her fats.
I just had to call this out because it was interesting for me to see how the people in the audience spontaneously reacted to these scenes. Some laughed, while others cringed; like they were seeing something obscene on screen. I shit you not, I even heard a guy exclaim “ang bastos!”.
I don’t know why so much people would react that way to a mundane scene like this. Is it because Filipino audiences aren’t used to seeing fat characters doing anything else aside from eating or being the comic relief? There was nothing wrong with Olga staring at her body. Have you guys tried playing with your fats??? It’s awesome, you should try it.
2. Fat people are sexual beings too
In the film: Benjie (Ryan Yllana) masturbated to a bikini picture of a model. A little later on in the movie, our two fat protagonists, have casual sex.
Again, I was surprised by how the people in the audience reacted. Well, this is more understandable since sex is still a controversial topic when seen on screen. Though I can’t help but feel that people tolerate sex done by fitter bodies more compared to two unfit bodies. The movie was just showing another truth that we don’t often see on local or even foreign screens that much (the only other movie or show that I remember with two fat people having casual sex is Mike & Molly).
3. We have a love-hate relationship with food
In the film: Olga and Benjie, would refrain from eating a lot when in front of other people but would often binge when they’re alone or together.
To a fat person trying to be fit, food is that friend of yours that you’re ashamed to be associated with. You try to avoid it when you’re in the company of other people but you run to it when you want to be comforted. Especially when you have an irrational mindset of thinking that everyone is out to judge your looks. Remember that ate serbidora may judge you but a two-piece fried porkchop meal from Buddy’s won’t.
4. Your family, may unwittingly be part of the problem
In the film: Olga has a cook for a father who encourages her to eat, a mother who likes to sugarcoat her obesity and a younger brother who needs a stern talking about insensitivity and comparing people to pigs.
Olga’s family predicament is surprisingly common in the Philippines since eating plays a strong social role in our culture. If cooking is a manifestation of one’s affection, then eating heartily is an acceptance of this affection. Therefore, restraining one’s self from eating can be considered as rejection. I’m pretty sure most of us have had that experience of a lola that you can’t say no to because you know she’ll get hurt if you say no to her invitation of seconds or thirds. Lolas are masters of emotional blackmail I tell you.
5. Having anxiety from THINKING that your fatness is ALWAYS the reason for being socially rejected
In the film: Olga fears that she was rejected by her swimming instructor, Noah (Mark Neumann), because she’s fat. After a night of partying, Benjie quietly leaves the bar after realizing that he was the only one from his group who didn’t hook up with anyone because he’s fat.
This is true and I honestly believe that this is an unfair and an unhealthy way of thinking. Unfair because you’re making a sweeping generalization that everyone can never look past your physical appearance. To some people, physical appearance may be a priority, but what about the other people who value intelligence, personality and interests?Unhealthy, because you’re heavily determining your worth on your appearance. You’re unconsciously boxing yourself to be a caricature fat person.
Good thing the film was encouraging about this predicament. Benjie was accepted by his ex-girlfriend Candy (Carla Humphries) saying that putting weight didn’t change how she saw him. Utterly surprised, Noah confessed that he liked Olga for reasons beyond her weigh (he liked Olga for being “intelligent, feisty and passionate”).
6. To really work, getting fit needs a strong and intrinsic motivation
In the film: It wasn’t clear what triggered Olga’s desire to shape up. I presume she wanted to be more physically desirable. She ended up always compensating her workouts and diets with binge eating that changes nothing.
It’s no secret getting fit is difficult to do. Take it from a guy who had numerous attempts throughout the years to get fit. My best attempt was shedding 20 lbs in six months but eventually gaining 30 lbs because of stress eating. Just like Olga, my reasons that time were more extrinsic; I wanted to be physically desirable. But when you’re 130 lbs far from your ideal weight, being “physically desirable” may not be enough to motivate you.
Two years after, I’m determined more than ever to get fit. So far it’s looking great, I’ve already lost 20lbs in three months. The difference I guess from my last attempt was that I honestly want, more than anything else, to be healthier. For me right now, being physically attractive is the least of my concerns. Right now, I worry more about the probability of me taking maintenance meds by my late 30s. Or not being alive to enjoy the perks of a 20% discount by age 60.
Getting healthy requires a conscious and active desire towards self-improvement, and social validation may not be enough.
Other Notes From The Film:
Patani for being one of the few Survivor alums left getting consistent TV/movie projects
Carla Humphries! I haven’t seen her for quite a while since her Qpids days and their Call Me Maybe music parody with the other It Girls.
Indie Money Shot: The shot of Olga’s slipper in the fish sinigang her dad made. A metaphor for her fight against food and her dad’s suffocating kindness.
I’m not sure when Olga became “smart, feisty and passionate” in front of Noah. I think I saw these more when she was with Benjie.
Generally, a steady romcom movie from Dan Villegas. Not as funny as English Only, Please nor was its tone as temperamental as Walang Forever but was still thoroughly entertaining. Three for three so far for Dan Villegas romcom films!
Finally a role that fits Arci Munoz! No more of that Pasion de Amor nonsense! She fits the bargas yet sensitive but also driven female leads of Dan Villegas. She’s possibly the closest we have right now to a real life Kakaibabe (di lang ako sigurado kung matatalo ka niya sa DotA).
Kind of glad to see Gerald Anderson in a relatively relax role.
Dan Villegas/Tonet Jadaone Stable Of Actors Spotting: Pepe Herrera (You’re My Boss, Walang Forever), Irma Adlawan (Beauty In A Bottle, Walang Forever), Quark Henares (English Only, Please, Walang Forever), Ysabel Yuzon (Walang Forever), Phi Palmos (OTWOL), Ricci Chan (You’re My Boss), Jane Oineza (Walang Forever), Vickie Rushton (The Break-up Playlist)
Bakit sa coffee shop tumatambay lagi si Ysabel Yuzon?
Sponsor Spotting: San Miguel (since Arci’s the current Ginebra girl I guess)
Jerald Napoles Award for Scene Stealing Performance in a Supporting or Guest Role: Cacai Bautista in her “nanginginig ang petchay” dialogue
Runner-up award goes to the effective silent acting of Quark Henares
Dan Villegas/Tonet Jadaone 80s – 90s Song Soundtrack: Halik by Aegis
The movie felt like it was shot within the last three months. It had a Pia Wurtzbach and a Be Like Bill reference in one scene. They were also watching Dolce Amore in one scene.
Shout out to the Nikki Valdez. Promoted na si ate from bestfriend ng bida to ate ng bida
Shout out to Emerzon Texon did wonderful work again with the music. He really understands the Mark Mothersbaugh school of ambient film music. (check out his soundcloud here)
Had a lot of boob jokes for a Filipino film
“Ang commitment kasama ang puso, utak, katawan. Pati yung patay mong kuko kasama.”
Starstruck and Pinoy Big Brother have proven to be artista-making machines for the last ten or so years. There’s a good chance that the talents you’re currently watching on local primetime TV had their start in either one of these shows. Both shows returned last year, so I wanted to figure out which of the two programs is better in producing talent. Going in, I instinctively thought that PBB was better since they produced primetime talents such as Kim Chiu, Gerald Anderson, Robi Domingo, et al. But on the other hand, Starstruck also produced the likes of Jennylyn Mercado, Cristine Reyes and Paulo Avelino. So maybe there’s more stuff to dig through.
Like any person who likes to “overanalyze” things and have tons of time in their hands, I decided to delve deeper to put my “overanalyzing” mind to rest. So I searched for all the finalists of all the concluded seasons of Starstruck and PBB to check who had a TV, movie, theater or music opportunity in 2015. This assumes that my definition of a “successful product” would be a talent that continues to have an artist career in the entertainment industry (i.e. Starstruck winner Steven Silva had his stage debut while PBB alum Jessica Connelly released an EP with Filipino producer CRWN December last year)
Disclaimer: Yes, my data came from Wikipedia again. Yes, it’s not the most credible source to get from but it’s the most complete by far. IMDB isn’t different because it’s also user-contributed data (and incomplete). Talent center websites such as the ABS-CBN talent center site is incomplete and not updated. I’d appreciate it if you can direct me to a better source!
THE BASIC STUFF
Let’s start with the groundwork first. Although Starstruck started two years earlier, Pinoy Big Brother, has accomplished twice the number of seasons and has went through more than twice the contestants (90 vs. 239). The number of seasons and all can be attributed to the nature of the two shows. Starstruck is a flat-out talent search. Which meant that you need to have the talent and/or potential to even be considered in the show. On the other hand, PBB is a reality TV show about forcing 12+ random people to coexist in one house. As what I’ve discussed in my previous write-up, having talent can raise your chances of becoming a Big Winner, but it’s not a strong requirement to be a housemate. That’s why thousands upon thousands of people audition for PBB, all you need is an identity and a backstory.
So based on this data, what percent of these alums are still active?
It seems that roughly half of the contestants who came from Starstruck had entertainment opportunities last year! That’s roughly a +30% compared to PBB alums. This goes back to the amount of people coming in the PBB house and not have the talent and staying power to stick in the entertainment industry. And if you look at the spread of alums who are still active, Starstruck has a better spread. This just meant that as long as you get into the final 14 of Starstruck, there’s a big chance that you’ll have an active entertainment career. If you check PBB’s on the other hand, you need to fight through and reach the Big 4 to get a respectable chance to have a steady entertainment career.
What we can get here: Starstruck would have more requirements than PBB but would give you a significantly better chance to have a place in the entertainment industry. On the other hand, it’s easier to be an housemate though it would be more difficult to have a place in the industry.
Next up, a deep-dive on the type of TV and Movie opportunities alums received this previous year.
TV/Movie Opportunities in 2015
In terms of sheer amount of opportunities, Starstruck alums received twenty-six more opportunities than PBB alums. If divided to all the current alums, a Starstruck alum would get ONE more opportunity than a PBB alum (3.44 vs. 2.40). If you just count the number of opportunities given to Starstruck alums, Arci Munoz and Miguel Tanfelix led the segment with 7 opportunities. 2015 was a big year for Arci, having a lead spot in Pasion de Amor and a special participation role in A Second Chance. And these are just her TV and Movie opportunities. Data excludes her endorsements like being the Ginebra Calendar Girl for 2016.
However, not all opportunities are created equal. Some opportunities have more weight than others. Going back to the Arci Munoz example, being a lead in a teleserye weighs more than just having a special part in a movie. So I added weights to each opportunity to have a clearer picture. In the spirit of full disclosure here are the weights that I used:
With this table as your guide, we can see that even in terms of quality, Starstruck alums receive better opportunities than PBB alums. With a 2.4 weighted opportunity advantage, they might have received an additional opportunity in an anthology series or a guest appearance.
And when you factor in the quality of opportunities, Jennylyn Mercado of Starstruck had the best opportunities, be it from Starstruck or PBB alums with 25 pts. She did star in two films (The Prenup and #Walang Forever) plus lead roles in two teleseryes (Second Chances and My Faithful Husband).
In the side of PBB, Melai Cantiveros was one of the contestants in season 1 and a had co-host role in season 2 of Your Face Sounds Familiar. Though low profile, PBB All-in 2nd Big Placer Maris Racal had a prolific year as a supporting actress in teleseryes (Ningning, Oh My G!) and movies (The Breakup Playlist, Halik Sa Hangin).
What we can get here: Overall, Starstruck alums are given better opportunities in terms of quality and quantity. A possible reason for relatively lower opportunities for PBB alums is that PBB’s parent channel, ABS-CBN, actively get talent from other programs. ABS-CBN is known to still produce talent via Star Magic (top of mind, Julia Barretto and Janella Salvador) and through their Goin’ Bulilit graduates (top of mind, Kathryn Bernardo and Julia Montes). In other words, PBB alums have to compete with more talent compared to Starstruck alums. And aside from the really established PBB alums like Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson, most PBB alums are more often given supporting roles or special participation opportunities. Prime example, PBB 737 Teen Big Winner Jimboy Martin is part of It’s Showtime‘s Hashtags dance group along with other PBB 737 alums, Zeus Collins and Jameson Blake.
How about we further dive into these TV opportunities? So we know where the alums get their opportunities
We can see here in Table 3.3 that overall, Starstruck alums are given more TV opportunities than PBB alums (119 TV opps vs. 86 TV opps). If you go through the opportunities based on quality in 2015, we can see that PBB alums were given equal opportunities to be cast as a lead, support, extended et al. But if you compare it to Starstruck, alums were given more opportunities as lead or part of the supporting cast. Hell, they had been cast significantly across different roles more than PBB alums. This confirms my guess that there’s just too many people to compete with in roles.
How about in movies?
In terms of movies, PBB alums were given significantly more movie opportunities in 2015 than Starstruck alums. However, you can see here that not a lot of alums from both TV shows are given movie opportunities as much as TV opportunities.
What we can get here: Starstruck alums are given more chances for big roles on TV compared to PBB alums. But in terms of movies, PBB alums have more opportunities than Starstruck alums. I guess an additional reason for more opportunities for Starstruck overall is that Starstruck alums are honed better than PBB alums. Again, Starstruck is an artista search. The show revolved around their training to become artists. On the other hand, after getting out of the PBB house, PBB alums still need to have a crash course in acting (most still go through the Star Magic Talent Program) to hone their talent.
With this slightly uneven opportunities, you’d think PBB alums, would leave ABS-CBN to look for better opportunities. Let’s check the channel movement of these alums
Interestingly, it seems that PBB alums are more loyal to ABS-CBN compared to Starstruck alums. A big chunk of Starstruck alums have left GMA to look for greener pastures. The likes of Arci Munoz and Paulo Avelino, arguably received better opportunities after leaving GMA. And this is the thing that puzzles me with the data. Why would Starstruck alums leave GMA even though they’re given better opportunities compared to ABS-CBN? I have two wild guesses, but these aren’t supported by any data:
More Pirate-able: since they’re produced better, Starstruck alums have better value hence better demand from TV5 and ABS-CBN. If you’re in the shoes of a TV5 or ABS talent executive, would you want to risk a contract to an unproven talent that still needs to be taught how to act or an already honed but underutilized talent like a Paulo Avelino or a Cristine Reyes?
What we can get here: Based on my guesses above, people who go through the Starstruck program as talents, have more value than PBB alums since they are more pirate-able.
From all that I’ve discussed so far, it seems that my initial guess was wrong. Haha Starstruck alums seem to have steadier and better opportunities compared to PBB alums. Of course this assumes that you want to be an artista because acting is your passion. But what about if we check the popularity of Starstruck vs. PBB alums? Maybe you want to be an artista because you just really want to be famous? So I tried to measure this by checking the social media pages of these alums to check their following in the internet.
Do note that these figures are as of Dec 17, 2015. These stats may have changed over the Christmas break.
SOCIAL MEDIA DATA
It seems that PBB alums are clearly followed more on social media compared to Starstruck alums. And by my definition, it seems that PBB alums are more popular (in social media) compared to Starstruck alums. BUT interestingly, Starstruck alums are significantly more active in social media, tweeting and posting pictures compared to PBB alums. We can also get from here is that social media activity of an alum does not equate to a better following. I would guess that external factors like awareness and exposure in media drive the following rather than activity.
Another interesting point here, the top alums that tweet do not necessarily mean the most followed. For example, Enzo Pineda is second in most tweets (26,900 tweets) among the Starstruck alums even though he has 583,000 Twitter followers. Compare those figures to Paulo Avelino who is followed by 1.28M people but has only tweeted 5.6K times. Or in the PBB alums side, PBB 737 evictee Fifth Solomon has tweeted 33K times to his 78.2K followers compared to Sam Milby who is followed by 3.7M people on Twitter but has only tweeted 4.7K times.
So if we go back to my earlier question, it seems that the answer isn’t really clear cut. It depends on your reason in joining these shows. Starstruck isn’t as highly-viewed as PBB but if you want a steadier flow of opportunities as an artist, joining Starstruck would be the better option. But be prepared coming in since it sauditions would be more stringent than PBB.
If you want to be an artista because you want the fame, you might want to choose PBB. By the nature of the show, you are literally exposed to the public 24/7. More exposure can mean more popularity for you. But be warned, than after PBB you would need to heavily compete for better breaks in your career if you ever decide to stay in ABS-CBN (most especially when you don’t get in the Big 4).
In the end, there’s no easy way to get fame and/or fortune. You need to exert the effort and show the desire to hone your skills. And like anything in life, you need to work your freaking ass off.
(P.S. shoutout to my quant consultant! You know who you are! I won’t mention your name in case there’s something wrong with the data!)