There are many reasons why Filipinos have been hooked with the reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) since it began in 2005, and it’s undeniable that controversies are among the reasons why many continue to be glued to the show.
For 15 years, viewers have seen many a controversy through the lens of the omniscient “Big Brother.” The show, which is currently on its 15th season with Pinoy Big Brother: Connect, have also received scalding criticisms and reactions from the public that even the Movie and Television Review and Classificaton Board had to step in a few times.
Do you remember the most PBB memorable controversies? Let’s take a look at some of them.
'Closeness' between Bianca Gonzalez and Zanjoe Marudo
In the first Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition in 2006, TV host Bianca Gonzalez and model Zanjoe Marudo were romantically linked because of their undeniable closeness while inside the PBB house—brushing their teeth together, lengthy hugs, and conversations, etc.
As the closeness between the two became apparent every day, viewers were quick to point out that at the time, Bianca was still in a relationship with director Lino Cayetano.
After the PBB grand finale (where Bianca placed third and Zanjoe, fourth), Zanjoe said in an interview that he did not mean to hurt anyone and he didn’t realize the extent and impact of their actions inside the house to the outside world. He also said that if ever their paths would cross, he would apologize to Lino. He also vowed to keep his distance from Bianca at the time.
A few months later, Bianca and Lino called it quits. Bianca admitted in an interview that her closeness with Zanjoe in the PBB house was one of the reasons of the breakup.
The controversy between the two died a natural death and everyone involved has since moved on—Lino Cayetano is now Taguig City Mayor and married to volleybelle Fille Cainglet; Zanjoe Marudo, rumored to have recently split with Fil-Aussie surfer Josie Prendergast; and Bianca, now a mom to two kids and is married to cager JC Intal.
Rustom Padilla came out as gay to Keanna Reeves
It was in the Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition that then Rustom Padilla (now BB Gandanghari) came out as gay to housemate and former private escort Keanna Reeves while they were chatting in the PBB house garden.
The public knew Rustom Padilla as a good-looking and swoon-worthy action star, so it was not surprising that the revelation stirred conversations and gained mixed reactions from viewers. The PBB episode was even shown in Big Brother UK's Big Brother Around the World show the same year.
Years later, the former PBB housemate clarified that she was not gay but a transgender woman. In 2016, she was formally recognized as female by a California court and her name was legally changed from Rustom Padilla to Binibini Gandanghari. She currently lives and works in the US and uploads daily vlogs on her YouTube channel.
Confrontation between Bea Saw and Maricris Dizon
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments in PBB was the confrontation between housemates Bea Saw and Maricris Dizon. The clips of the scene, which has launched countless memes, resurfaces on social media from time to time.
It started when Maricris was teasing Bea with another housemate, Nel, that erupted to a heated argument between the two. Maricris was heard throwing threatening remarks towards Bea. Because of this, Maricris was force-evicted from the house. On the other hand, Bea emerged as the winner of this PBB season.
The confrontation also gave birth to Bea’s classic line, “Ang respect, hindi yan ini-impose; ine-earn yan,” which has become a popular meme.
After being force-evicted from the house, Marcris said in an interview that she regrets her verbal threat towards Bea.
Baron Geisler force-evicted by “Kuya”
During Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition 2, “Kuya” kicked out actor Baron Geisler as a consequence for being drunk, hurling insults to Kuya, and acting inappropriately toward his female housemates.
The first time Baron got drunk in the house, he incited a fight with housemate Will Devaughn and started behaving inappropriately toward his female housemates. Kuya asked the male housemates to bring Baron to a room to sober up. The actor apologized and promised that it will not happen again.
But after several days, during a Christmas party, Baron got drunk again and behaved erratically, which stressed out his fellow housemates. Baron was force-evicted from the house a couple of days after the incident.
After PBB, Baron has accepted help and entered a rehabilitation facility a few times to change his ways. A few years later, he was able to star in indie films, then got involved in a scuffle with fellow actors.
Baron is now married to psychologist Jamie Evangelista, whom he met while he is in a rehabilitation center. They are parents to a baby girl born early this year.
LouDre controversial kiss
Model Lou Yanong and Hawaii-born Andre Brouillette became romantically involved while inside the PBB house. A date was even set up for them in the house to the delight of the early “LouDre” fans.
As they explored their relationship further, the outside world paid close attention to them. One day, the two got drunk in a pool party and started sharing passionate kisses. Some of their housemates were reportedly scandalized by the couple’s actions.
Viewers and netizens weighed in on the issue—some believe that as two consenting adults, they should not be persecuted for their actions; while others feel strongly against the image that the two portray, especially to the younger set.
The network apologized to the viewers and said in a statement that “the party was meant to strengthen the bond of the housemates and was not intended to offend the viewers’ sensibilities.”
In an interview on Tonight with Boy Abunda, Lou and Andre (who were third and fourth Big Placers respectively) recognized that even before the show was finished, they have already received a lot of backlash, especially Lou, who was heavily slut-shamed by netizens. But the two still apologized to the viewers. “We want to apologize for that. It’s not setting a good example,” said Andre. For her part, Lou shared that her dad taught her that if one makes mistakes, one has to deal with the consequences. “I’m dealing with the consequences now,” she said.
Pinoy Big Brother theme song reportedly plagiarized from an English new wave band's song
The Pinoy Big Brother theme song Pinoy Ako by indie pop band Orange and Lemons was a massive hit when it debuted together with the new reality show. It was also named an unofficial song of the year due to its popularity.
However, music fans were quick to recognize that the melody used in the song closely resembled ‘80s new wave duo Care’s song Chandelier. The conversation about the alleged plagiarism spread like wildfire in online forum boards.
In an interview, vocalist and guitarist Clem Castro denied the plagiarism accusation. A representative of Star Records also explained that the band may have been influenced by Care’s song and used it as a peg, but insisted that the group did not copy the melody of the song.
Music correspondent Giselle Roque, who is friends with Care’s Paul Simpson, who wrote and sang Chandelier, was adamanat in another interview that Orange and Lemons copied the song’s melody. She also revealed that Orange and Lemons said that they were pressured to rush a song because ABS-CBN gave them barely a week to do the song and record the music video. Roque said she has the e-mail from Orange and Lemons to prove her claims.
Years passed and there were no known legal actions taken by the company who owns the rights to the song or from the members of Care.
Several versions of Pinoy Ako have been used in some PBB seasons.