Backroom 9: NYOBG
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - April 6, 2013 - 12:00am

What does NYOBG mean? Very simply: Not Your Ordinary Boys & Girls. Nine of them, count ‘em! They are Backroom’s new batch of talents, young dreamers with a starry eyes set on Stardom. Meet them.

  •  Benj Bolivar

A UP Sports Science graduate and first runner-up in the 2010 Mossimo Bikini Summit, Benj was a star player on the La Salle High School team. He tried out for a slot in the roster of the UP Fighting Maroons Men’s Basketball Team but eventually decided to give up basketball in favor of modeling.

Says Benj, “I’m open to anything and everything. Gusto ko i-try lahat. My mom is a teleserye fan and we watch those teleseryes together. That’s how I fell in love with teleserye…and acting! Parang masaya siyang gawin, fulfilling.”

Benj is co-managed by Backroom and Jonas Gaffud’s Mercator.

  •  PJ Go

A model who has walked the ramp for top designers and designer brands like Bench and Rusty Lopez, PJ, 22, is a UE Management student. An acting greenhorn, he’s eager and willing to learn.

Like the rest of the Backroom 9’s NYOBG, he has attended acting workshops with Laurice Guillen and Pen Medina. The workshops have opened his eyes to what acting really is and what it demands from a performer.

PJ dreams of working with actresses like Bea Alonzo (“Sobrang galing talaga, eh. Ma-cha-challenge ka.”) and Angelica Panganiban.

  •  Kayesha Chua

Fil-Chinese Kayesha is a cum laude HRM graduate from UST.

Her best friend Maui Lumba (the two of them joined a university-wide pageant in UST where they emerged third runner-up) was about to sign with Backroom when he asked Kayesha to come with him to a meeting. She tagged along, and next thing Kayesha knew she was signing up with Backroom.

  •  Maui Lumba

Mauro “Maui” Lumba, 20, is an HRM graduate from UST. Tall and moreno with attractive eyes, Maui also dabbles in modeling, something he inherited from his father, who used to model with the likes of Edu Manzano and Christopher de Leon.

“I think I can portray a character because I look different from everybody,” he says. “My first love was basketball, and I pursued that career at first, but I think this is my calling, to become a model and actor. I’m just grateful that I’m part of this group. Having no background in acting, it was really fun having workshops, especially with direk Laurice. Show business is tough and it has a lot of complications, but I think we can handle it.”

  •  Nikita Mcelroy

On her Twitter bio, Nikita, 18, described herself as “Ang nag-iisang kulot na hindi salot!”

Introduced to Backroom by her friend, model-actor Miguel Estenzo, Nikita was born in Hawaii but traces her roots to Davao. Her ancestry is mixed French and Black American, which accounts for her exotic look and skin color.

Nikita, 5’8” tall, is auditioning for commercials (she was in Kris Aquino’s “Rubadabango”) while waiting for her big acting break.

Nikita thinks of showbiz as a career. “Nakikita ko kasi na acting is not a joke,” she says. “Hindi porke’t maganda ka, okey na. It should be a passion that you really want to do.”

  •  Ian Batherson

Looks familiar, doesn’t he? Yes, Ian was in two reality shows: Starstruck (Season 5) and Survivor Philippines: Celebrity Showdown.

Ian, 24, spent his high school years in the US and Guam, and did two years of college via an online course at the University of Maryland. However, this was cut short when he came to the Philippines where he was offered a part in a commercial as the ex-boyfriend of Anne Curtis.  

He considers himself lucky to be given this new opportunity, but corrects himself quickly. “Lucky is an understatement for me. Take advantage of what you’ve been given. ‘Yung opportunities mo, take advantage of them kasi they don’t happen araw-araw sa buhay. Hindi ito madalas mangyari. Kailangan talaga, be the best you can be. Sa huli talaga, it’s up to you to deliver kasi sayang, di ba?”

  • Bon Jovi Osorio

A “comeback kid,” Bon Jovi, 23, went to Backroom in 2009, but he had to return to the USA because of personal reasons.

“It was school and my parents’ request. I was having family problems sa States, so I went back home to help my mom and dad,” he explained.

There, Bon Jovi went back to school and shifted his college major from Biology to Business Administration. But showbiz was always at the back of his mind. Finally, after graduating from the University of California-Irvine, he got in touch with the Backroom guys and told them he wanted to try showbiz again. When they said yes, Bon Jovi packed his bags, got on a plane and came back.

Fluent in English and Filipino, Bon Jovi is looking forward to building a career in hosting and in acting. He has done several commercials, including those for Swish mouthwash (with Ryan Agoncillo), Rejoice (with Kathryn Bernardo) and Nestle Yogurt.

  • Avery Paraiso

The first thing you notice is his hair. At 18, a veteran of modeling competitions (including Page Jeans competition and the modeling search Circle of 10) which served as his launching pad into the business. He met a friend, Vince Estenzo, who brought him to the attention of Backroom.

Now taking up Masscom, Avery is dead-set on carving his own path through showbiz as an actor, particularly a dramatic actor. Being part of the Backroom 9/NYOBG is the biggest break he’s ever been given, and he intends to make the best of it.

  • Carlo Sawit

A Marketing Management graduate from La Salle, Carlo has done a few commercials (that’s why he looks familiar).

He’s been taking workshops (acting, singing, dancing and hosting), and these have forced him to make an honest assessment of himself as an actor. Through the workshops, he has learned to be more open, more giving and more spontaneous.

“It’s like going back to school all over again,” says Carlo, 24. “But I’d rather not complain about it kasi ginusto ko ito, eh. I’m in a position where I have opportunities that I want. Nagsa-sacrifice ako ng tulog, talagang pagod na pagod ako, but at the same time it’s fulfilling for me to be in a field that I really have the passion for.”

(For inquiries, call Backroom, Inc. at tel. nos. 435-1108, 435-1120 and 928-0717 or e-mail us at Like Backroom, Inc. on Facebook at and or follow Backroom Inc. on Twitter at

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