StarStruck throwback

KAPUSO DAY - The Philippine Star

This month marks the return of GMA Network’s reality artista search StarStruck. Before the iconic program presents the new set of finalists to the Philippine audience, let us take a look back and recall how it caught the nation by storm when it first aired.

Without an international franchise as guide, StarStruck was bravely launched in 2003 with a fresh offering of raw and aspiring hopefuls.

Dream. Believe. Survive. These three words embodied their journey. It became their battle cry and more importantly, it was their inspiration to do their best and give their all.

Like most reality contests, participants were eliminated weekly based on performances and text votes from the viewers. What made it more unforgettable was the sound of a heartbeat every time the verdict was announced. I believe that it heightened the excitement, fear and anticipation not only of the contestants but also of the people watching. The distinct sound signaled the end of the line for some, and survival for others.

A signature dance was choreographed specially for the hopefuls, which right away became the craze among teens and kids alike. On every street corner, household and school, youths all over the country felt as if they were actually contestants while doing the moves.

The first StarStruck batch gave us Mark Herras and Jennylyn Mercado as Ultimate Male and Female Survivors. They, no doubt, have made their mark in Philippine showbiz with numerous TV projects, movies and awards while their love team has produced some of the most loyal fans in recent history. Mark and Jennylyn became real-life sweethearts. They broke up but they still remain good friends.

Sarah Lahbati

Together with Katrina Halili, Yasmien Kurdi, Dion Ignacio, Sheena Halili, Cristine Reyes, Nadine Samonte and Rainier Castillo, they have kept in touch and stage reunions every so often.

StarStruck Kids was next with Sam Bumatay and Kurt Perez winning the top spots. Kurt has migrated to Australia while Sam played memorable roles on TV and film. Meanwhile, First Prince Miguel Tanfelix is making a name in the industry with nominations from both Golden Screen and Star Awards for his performance in the Kapuso soap Niño.

Garnering top honors in Batch 2 were Mike Tan and Ryza Cenon. Mike just finished the primetime project The Rich Man’s Daughter where he played a closeted gay from a rich Chinese family. Ryza has always been visible in various GMA programs. She is currently part of Buena Familia. Batch 2 members include LJ Reyes and our first ever Miss World, Megan Young who now plays the title role in Marimar.

Jackie Rice and Marky Cielo were champions of Season 3 in 2006. The industry sadly bade goodbye to Marky in 2008. Jackie topbilled GMA shows Sisid and Kasalanan Bang Ibigin Ka? Among the finalists of this batch still active in the industry are Vaness del Moral and Arci Muñoz.

In 2007, StarStruck hailed Kris Bernal and Mart Escudero as the Ultimate Loveteam aside from Aljur Abrenica and Jewel Mische getting the top individual honors for this season. Kris has matured into a fine actress as proven in some of her TV projects like Koreana and the Filipino adaptation of Coffee Prince. Aljur, on the other hand, has become one of the most popular hunks in showbiz with magazine covers and product endorsements to boot. Rich Asuncion and Paulo Avelino were also part of this batch.

Season 5 winners were Sarah Lahbati and Steven Silva. Steven has ventured into theater acting with a part in the recently-concluded stage musical La Cage aux Folles. Sarah is one of the most sought-after cover girls of fashion magazines. Also part of their batch were Rocco Nacino, Enzo Pineda, Sef Cadayona, Diva Montelaba to name a few.

Indeed, StarStruck has produced jewels from raw gems. But it is really up to these stars to keep on shining. Meanwhile, let us all sit back and watch the new hopefuls dream, believe and survive.












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