The day-long downpour that Saturday did not prove to be a downer for the thousands of fans who trooped to Clark Expo in Pampanga to witness the finals of ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother, the reality TV program which took the entire country by storm and became part of every local household today.
A huge crowd of nearly 20,000 awaited every part of the program which stretched to a little over three hours, ending after midnight. The fans shrieked and screamed at the sight of every housemate, who was undoubtedly catapulted to stardom by being holed out inside the Pinoy Big Brother house. The housemates’ Pinoy Big Brother stint was a life-changing experience which brought them fame perhaps beyond their wildest imagination.
The night was a reunion for evicted housemates Rico Barrera, JB Magsaysay, Racquel Reyes, Bob de la Cruz, Chx Alcala, Sam Milby, Jenny Suico, Franzen Fajardo and Say Yutadco and the Big Four – Uma Khouny from Israel, Cassandra Ponti from Davao, Jayson Gainza from Batangas and Nene Tamayo from Romblon – who ended up in the finals.
Euphoria for what ABS-CBN dubbed as The Big Night started a week before the actual finals, when voting for the Big Four housemates created a stir among millions of PBB-crazy fans. Viewers even went to the extent of betting for the big winner.
Since ABS-CBN clinched the rights for Big Brother early this year from the Netherlands-based production, Endemol, the network poured its resources and manpower to ensure the phenomenal success of its first reality franchise and make the local version the most popular and talked-about program on local television today.
The business unit heads of Pinoy Big Brother – Linggit Tan and Lauren Dyogi – left no stone unturned to ensure a spectacular finals night. With veteran stage and TV director Al Quinn at the helm, the extravaganza employed over a hundred staff and featured the network’s biggest talents. The grand opening salvo alone had close to 200 students from the schools in Pampanga, who performed Tagalog Christmas ditties with the UP Concert Chorus and Pinoy Big Brother hosts Willie Revillame, Toni Gonzaga and Mariel Rodriguez.
On stage was a makeshift version of the Pinoy Big Brother house, with its distinct golden yellow façade. The actual Pinoy Big Brother house, which stands along Eugenio Lopez Drive across the ABS-CBN Compound in Quezon City, is actually the prototype of the winner’s grand prize worth P2 million at St. Monique Valais.
The announcement of Nene Tamayo as the Big Winner was the highlight of the night and perhaps the most dramatic portion. With an interplay of colorful lights onstage, the makeshift house parted from the middle to reveal Nene seated on the couch. When she stood up, she was greeted by the huge crowd with a thunderous applause.
There was not a dry eye in the audience when Nene ran to meet her parents Geny and Maria Delly Tamayo, who were just going up onstage when her name was announced. The older folks flew in from Romblon with Nene’s younger brother, Jefferson. For a brief and tearful moment, the Tamayos were locked in a tight embrace to savor Nene’s triumph.
The 24-year-old Nene was indeed the Big Winner that night. The 554,906 votes in her name was practically half of the Big Four total tally. She bagged the P6 million worth of prizes in cash and in kind from the network and the major sponsors of Pinoy Big Brother. There’s a house and lot worth P2 million, cash prize of P1 million, livelihood showcase from Ink for Less worth P2 million and a brand-new Nissan Frontier Titanium.
Each of the three runners-up took home P200,000 in cash, plus an assortment of prizes. Jayson, as the second placer (with 312,258 votes or 27.5 percent), received an additional cash bonanza of P100,000 from the show’s sponsor, Rogin-E. Cass had 214,188 votes or 18.9 percent, while Uma got 52,833 votes or 4.7 percent. On top of the prizes is a management contract from ABS-CBN for all the 13 Pinoy Big Brother housemates.
Three hours before the show, the Big Four were taken out of the PBB house blindfolded and with headphones. Blasting on their ears for more than five hours, until the "Big Winner" was announced at way past 11 p.m., was the PBB theme, Pinoy Ako, the multi-platinum hit of Orange and Lemons. With director Lauren Dyogi, the four housemates rode a van which took them to Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. From there, they flew in a private plane to Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark.
Earlier that afternoon, 22 buses from Quezon City, Bulacan and Pampanga went on a caravan to Clark. The venue was spruced up for the big event. ABS-CBN even brought its own security to reinforce safety during the finals night.
Every production number was also a spectacle. The network presented some of its biggest talents to perform with the (evicted) housemates. Jericho Rosales, Heart Evangelista, Sandara Park and Joseph Bitangcol did duets joined by Sam and Say. ASAP champions Jed Madela, Mark Bautista, Rachelle Ann Go and Sarah Geronimo belted out a string of hits.
Willie was joined by his erstwhile Masayang Tanghali Bayan co-hosts Randy Santiago and John Estrada in a medley of Beatles’ chart-toppers. Rap stars Andrew E, Salbakuta, Carlos Agassi, hitmaker Lito Camo, Wency Cornejo and today’s hottest band, Orange and Lemons, also performed. Robert Seña brought the house down when he rendered a powerful medley of Michael Bolton’s Go the Distance and Fantasia’s I Believe, backed up by the String Sonata Quartet and violinist Jay Cayuca.
ABS-CBN executives were in full support of The Big Night, led by chairman Gabby Lopez, president Cito Alejandro and executive vice president Charo Santos-Concio, with Cory Vidanes, Malou Santos, Bonbon Jimenez, Deo Endrinal, Enrico Santos, Ron Valdueza, Leng Raymundo, Maloli Espinosa, lawyer Mario Santos and Cathy Perez. Also in the audience were director Jerry Sineneng, Star Cinema’s Tess Fuentes, Tirso Cruz III and his family – wife Lyn Ynchausti, kids TJ, Bodie and Djanine.
Early this week, auditions for the 45-day Pinoy Big Brother celebrity edition had started. It will air early next year. Meanwhile, the new season is set to commence middle of 2006, with a new batch of non-celebrity housemates.
Due to the popularity of the show, Pinoy Big Brother has spawned several other programs. There’s the game show, Pinoy Big Brother: Yes or No, the showbiz-oriented Pinoy Big Brother Buzz, the graveyard-airing Uplate, hosted by Mariel Rodriguez, and the daily Studio 23 edition with Asia Agcaoili. On top of this, there’s the uncut 24/7 cable version on SkyCable, the video streamlining on ABS-CBN Now and PBB on The Filipino Channel (TFC) worldwide.