If a list were to be made of showbiz personalities who made a big impact on the industry during the first half of the year, her name would surely be on the list. Very much so, because no matter how you look at it, there’s no denying that former MTV Rouge star Mariel Rodriguez – better known these days as everyone’s favorite kapitbahay ni Kuya has seen her star rise in a way even she could never have anticipated. She had no idea that her stint on Pinoy Big Brother Uplate would lead to so much in so little time.
The best proof of that are offers – good, juicy ones – that keep coming her way. In fact, last Monday, Mariel started co-hosting Wowowee with Willie Revillame, her former co-host on Pinoy Big Brother’s first season. It was a surprise to Mariel, who says she was not aware that negotiations for her to join the show were going on between her management and ABS-CBN, and that these negotiations began even before Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition started.
She was only formally informed about it several weeks ago. "Actually, I was very surprised, because they said Willie already announced it on radio and I hadn’t heard anything definite yet," says Mariel. "At that time kasi, there were no concrete plans."
But now, everything is set. Mariel started work as Willie’s co-host on the reformatted Wowowee two days ago. She is very excited about her new show, although part of her is sad at having to leave Pinoy Big Brother and PBB Uplate. PBB Uplate, especially, became so much a part of her life that there were days when Mariel would wake up and get ready to go to the studio for PBB, when she’d suddenly realize she didn’t have a show to go to anymore.
"I got used to always having PBB," says Mariel, who was a part of all three seasons of the top-rating reality show. At the recent Pinoy Big Brother reunion featuring the housemates from season one, the Celebrity Edition and the Teen Edition, Mariel kept crying backstage. "I couldn’t believe it was over already." Pinoy Big Brother will soon be replaced by another reality show, Pinoy Dream Academy. It is a Fame-type reality search, where contestants will be housed in one place, which is more than just a house. It will have a rehearsal hall and studios in addition to the living area.
Mariel isn’t going to be a part of Pinoy Dream Academy anymore. But that’s okay, since she was never on the show, and you know what they say about not missing things you never had.
PBB, however, was different. The show had such an impact on her life and her schedule that even up to now, she still has trouble falling asleep at normal hours. "I can’t sleep earlier than 2 a.m. (which was what I did when I was still hosting PBB Uplate)," she says. In fact, she would often refer to herself as the show’s "fifth EP (executive producer). Whenever the EPs would meet to discuss the show, Mariel would blurt out, "Wait a minute, I’m part of that. I’m the fifth EP!"
But now, there’s Wowowee. Mariel is most excited about the fact that the show will give her the chance to interact with people. One of the friendliest hosts on TV, Mariel is a people person, which is why she so loved doing PBB, especially the times she’d host goings-on outside the house, where she got to interact with the crowd.
"I love to psych up crowds," she says. "That’s why I think I’m gonna enjoy doing Wowowee, interacting with the audience, especially the TFC subscribers. They’re all very game, so it looks like it’s gonna be fun."
Then there is her other regular show, Ok, Fine Oh Yes, a sitcom in which she stars with Aga Muhlach, Bayani Agbayani and Edu Manzano. These days, Mariel is also focusing a lot of her attention in movies. This month, her priority is to finish her remaining scenes in the action-comedy X44 for Star Cinema, where she plays opposite Vhong Navarro. The movie is inspired by the character X44, popularized by Tony Ferrer who also makes a cameo appearance in the film. The movie was supposed to star Toni Gonzaga, but she had to give it up because her schedule was too tight so the role went to Mariel instead. According to her, she doesn’t mind being second choice at all. Work is work, whether she was the first choice for the role or not.