Pinoy Big Brother

Pinoy Big Brother (also known as PBB) is the Philippine version of the reality television show Big Brother (the word Pinoy is a colloquial term for Filipino). It follows the same premise as its many foreign counterparts around the world: twelve Philippine residents are forced to live with each other inside a house for about 3 months or at least 100 days. Visit to learn more

It is shown on ABS-CBN Channel 2 and its international affiliate, The Filipino Channel, with snippets shown on local affiliate Studio 23. The uncut 24/7 version of the series can also be seen on the internet through streaming video and a special cable channel provided by ABS-CBN-owned cable TV provider, SkyCable.

The elimination process in the show is the reverse of the original Dutch format. At the start of the elimination process, the “housemates” (as the contestants are referred to) vote for which two (sometimes more if there are ties or Big Brother gives automatic nomination) fellow housemates they should eliminate. Once these nominations are chosen, the viewer votes come into play. For a week viewers are asked to vote, via SMS or voice messaging through PLDT’s hotline (later abolished in favor of vote cards), for whoever they wanted to stay longer in the house. The housemate with the least viewer votes is eliminated. In the final week, the one with the most viewer votes will win the grand prize package, usually includes house and lot, a car, a business franchise, home appliances, and a holiday, and is given the title Big Winner. Pinoy Big Brother uses the tagline “Teleserye ng totoong buhay.” or “Soap Opera of real life.”

Other essential elements of the Big Brother franchise are present, such as weekly and daily challenges, the confessional room, and the voice known only as “Big Brother,” sometimes referred to as “Kuya” (the program uses the literal English translation of “big brother” for the Tagalog word “kuya,” referring to the eldest son in the family).

Originally, TV personality and comedian Willie Revillame was the main host of the show, along with young up-and-coming personalities Mariel Rodriguez and Toni Gonzaga. Toni hosted the primetime telecast which chronicles the events of the day before (unless an episode is telecast live). Mariel, on the other hand, hosted the late night edition called Pinoy Big Brother: Uplate, which updates anything viewers missed in the primetime telecast, as well as what to look forward in the next one. Willie hosted the live telecast of the eviction and the public revelation of the nomination for evictees, but only for the first season. He has not returned to the program even before the first Celebrity Edition started because of the ULTRA stampede.

Asia Agcaoili spearheaded the show for the viewers of Studio 23. Her show, called Pinoy Big Brother on Studio 23: Si Kuya, KaBarkada Mo (English: Eldest Brother, Your Buddy; the program instead prefers the translation “big” instead of “eldest” for the Tagalog word “kuya,” which refers to the eldest son of the family), not only featured snippets from the primetime telecast the night before, but also featured opinion polls both from the man on the street and those sending SMS, spoof segments, unaired videos, and feed from inside the house (either live feed or footage taped earlier). Studio 23 has stopped the practice since the second Celebrity Edition and instead resorted to airing the delayed late morning/early afternoon feeds.

Talk show host Boy Abunda hosted the post-season documentaries. It featured issues and controversies about the housemates.

The show also had its theme song called “Pinoy Ako” (English: I’m a Filipino) by Orange and Lemons. This song is also the basis for much of the background music used in the show.

Luis Manzano took over Willie’s place for the Celebrity Edition and later return on Teen Edition Plus on 2008. The theme song in that edition was Sikat ang Pinoy by season 1 contestant Sam Milby and host Toni Gonzaga.

On its Teen Edition, Bianca Gonzalez (a TV host and a former ‘Big 4′ housemate of the Celebrity Edition) took over Mariel Rodriguez for the Teen Edition: Update, and PBB: Uplate, a successful program that Mariel Rodriguez has hosted in its early editions – while Mariel became the primetime host. The theme song is “Kabataang Pinoy” (Filipino Youth) by Itchyworms. The house was renovated for the preparation for the Teen Edition by the students of the Philippine School of Interior Design.

PBB Teen Edition Plus ex-housemate Robi Domingo makes a debut for new additional male host of Pinoy Big Brother: Unlimited.

To prepare the viewers for the program’s run, two primers were aired. The first was Eto na si Kuya! (Here Comes Big Brother), which talked about the essentials of the franchise and its success around the world.

In the second primer, entitled Ang Bahay ni Kuya (Big Brother’s House), Mariel and Toni indirectly gave the viewers a tour of the Big Brother house and its rooms, along with the control center and the confession booth. It also featured highlights a dry run where 12 of the network’s talents stayed in the house for 24 hours and experienced the challenges and tests the housemates would experience at the start of the actual run.

The house is actually located in front of the ABS-CBN studios in Quezon City.

A car was used to transfer the evicted housemate from the Big Brother house to the main building of ABS-CBN. Due to the number of people gathered outside to watch the eviction, it would be rather unsafe for the housemate to walk to the nearby building. Of course, the car can’t go inside the building.

The Big Brother House is a multi-room studio designed with walls painted with pastel colors complete with sets of cameras and microphones. The House is specially designed to capture the housemates’ every move. Camera cross surrounds the house, it allows cameramen inside the house record the housemates’ every move without being seen by the housemates. This hallway is equipped with a camera dolly for the camera’s movement. The house is surrounded by two-way mirrors to allow the camera to see what’s happening inside the house. The cameras cannot be seen through the mirror because the camera cross is painted black, it has to be as dark as possible so the cameras cannot be seen, though sometimes reflections of the camera or the cameramen are seen in some episodes. It also has a garden and swimming pool. To capture the housemates’ every move and speech, the house is equipped with cameras (in the camera cross or cameras on “hot heads”) and microphones (lapel microphones used by the housemates, and boom microphones surrounding the garden area). For the housemates security and the essence of being locked away from the outside world, the garden area is totally covered with a camouflage-type of fabric. It also boasted of a multi-faith altar in one wall of the house (one which has a Bible, a Koran, and twelve rosaries), making the house the only Big Brother house that has a room set aside for religious purposes (although it is said that the Arab Big Brother house had prayer rooms). And although any form of communication from the outside world is banned inside the house, there is a large flat-screen television set in the living room, used for only 2 purposes:

To show any video Big Brother wanted to show to any or all housemates, especially that of the TV Mass every Sunday (contrary to reports early in the first season that a priest would visit them; later on, a priest unseen by viewers would visit them), and
To announce the names of nominees for eviction directly to the housemates and the person evicted from the house. (The housemates saw either host Willie Revillame (prior to the Celebrity Edition), Mariel Rodriguez or Toni Gonzaga, or (prior to the Teen Edition) Bianca Gonzalez talk to them during nomination and eviction nights.)

To complete the set up, 26 surveillance cameras are positioned all over the house to watch the housemates’ every move, including the bathroom. For modesty’s sake, however, images from the bathroom will be shown if the bathroom is used for any purpose other than bathing (such as gossiping).

The set up of the house, especially when shown on television, makes the illusion that it is a one-storey house. But anyone who passes by the house can easily notice that its facade is that of a two-storey house. That is because the second storey houses parts of the control room. The actual front doors to the house area are actually further inside.

The house interior was rebuilt for the second season. These changes include the following:

The number of cameras have been increased to 42.
There was a secret room built behind the confession room and a large activity area leading from the garden.
The house has a prayer room rather than just an altar.
The flat screen monitor found in the living area is now used to call any housemate.
The front door now leads to the Eviction Hall next door.
Instead of watching a TV mass, the housemates have a spiritual session with Coney Reyes, the show’s spiritual adviser. This has been done since the first Celebrity Edition.

For the third season, more commonly referred to as Pinoy Big Brother: Double Up, the Big Brother house was divided into two different, yet equally furnished “houses,” which the show claims as a “first in worldwide Big Brother history,” as other Big Brother franchises had opted for “half-houses,” one more superior than the other.

The changes that were made for the third season are the following

The house was completely rebuilt from the ground up, new set up, and larger space.
The guardians’ area from the second teen edition was renovated to accommodate the season’s twist.
The housemates that are evicted every week exit out of the house through the confession room.
Eviction takes place right outside of the Big Brother House (the Eviction Hall was used as the show’s activity area, due to having the old activity area used as a living area).


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