Controversy and criticism of Pinoy Big Brother

Like other franchises around the world, the concept and implementation of Pinoy Big Brother has been a subject of controversy and criticism from the Filipino public and the news media. Investigations of some incidents were held by numerous organizations, including Endemol, the franchiser of Big Brother, and TV watchdog MTRCB since its launch in 2005.

Season 1

On its first week alone, the show was already given a stern warning by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), the Philippine censoring body for cinema and television, saying that the show airs content that is definitely not suitable for children, such as talk on contraceptives and very "intimate scenes". ABS-CBN is reported to have acknowledged this and had promised to make an "improved" show more suitable for younger audiences in the coming weeks.[1] As a result, as scenes like these are unavoidable at times without interference, each episode begins with a warning reminding viewers that some scenes in the show that are not suitable for young audiences. In spite of this, though, the scenes that were deemed to be way beyond the parental guidance rating given by the Board were still shown. In this light, MTRCB ordered the program suspended for one episode. As compliance, the program was not aired on September 25, 2005, the day after the 2nd eviction night.[2]

See: MTRCB's suspension order: [3][4]

Columnist Nestor U. Torre of the Philippine Daily Inquirer has also given a doubtful but optimistic stance on the show, saying that while the scenes are chaotic and challenges in the first week were way too mundane and cheesy, he is hopeful that more compelling tasks would be given to the housemates in the future and the housemates' personalities will become clearly defined.[5] However, Torre wrote in a later article that in the first week alone, the show emphasizes more on creating controversy (such as sex) rather than exploiting the potential psychological factors and showcasing human nature.[6] Despite this negative publicity, ABS-CBN itself has reported that the show is so well liked that it extended its run to all seven days a week. In fact, not only its on-air talents have defended it, but viewers themselves (as shown on ABS-CBN programs) can attest to it. It also inspired the creation of fansites.

Franzen Fajardo created controversy when he continuously violated Big Brother's rules, including mouthing words to fellow housemate Cassandra Ponti. Deliberations between the show producers and consultants from Endemol over the mouthing of words resulted in a decision to evict him on Day 86. However, Ponti offered to voluntarily exit to keep Fajardo inside; Big Brother considered her offer and let the public choose Fajardo's fate. The next day, however, voting was stopped and his forced eviction was finalized after he violated the rules again by discussing with fellow housemate Jason Gainza his last chat with Big Brother inside the confession room. He eventually left the house on Day 91.

Around September 2005, rumors circulated through email which claimed that Uma Khouny, Cassandra Ponti, and Sam Milby were just hired by the show and did not audition for it at all. Uma himself stated in one episode that he made the cut for the show through the assistance of network official Linggit Tan. To prove these rumors wrong, the show actually aired some footage that the three indeed auditioned.[7] The existence of the "Youth Alliance of the Philippines," which created the e-mail, was never determined.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer article published in early 2006 said that both Uma Khouny and Sam Milby were reportedly fined by the Department of Labor and Employment for failing to get an Alien Employment Permit, a special permit permitting non-resident foreigners to work in the Philippines, before actually participating in the show. Fines of PHP10,000 and PHP 40,000 were respectively meted on Uma, an Israeli, and Sam, an American. However, the article said that Uma applied for his permit after the end of the first season.

There have been allegations saying that the melody of Pinoy Ako has been plagiarized from the song Chandeliers by 80s British band Care. Orange and Lemons and the song's composer Jonathan Manalo claim that while Orange and Lemons may have been influenced by British rock, they stressed that the two songs are completely different from each other and assured that Pinoy Ako is a completely original one. However, musical correspondent Giselle Roque (who has connections to Care) claims in a separate article that Orange and Lemons and Manalo were "pressured" to come up with a theme song for the show within a week, hence the creation of Pinoy Ako which is very similar to Chandeliers. BMG Music, who own the rights to Care's Diamonds And Emeralds album from which Chandeliers came from is yet to issue a statement or take legal actions if it so warrants.[8]

Celebrity Edition 1

The show was supposed to be launched on February 4, 2006, but the management postponed it to the following day, February 5 because of the fallout following the Wowowee ULTRA stampede. The incident resulted in host Willie Revillame resigning from the show; Luis Manzano taking over his spot.

On Day 12, Angela Calina voluntarily exited the house[9] as soon as she received news that her apartment unit in Cebu had been burglarized. She left the game to attend to her daughter, whom she knew was in danger when the incident happened. As a result, voting for the nominees for that week was suspended.

On February 21, 2006, Gretchen Malalad left the house after Big Brother allowed her to report to her superiors in the Philippine Air Force, where she holds the rank of airwoman second-class, to face a summary investigation about her being AWOL He did this in the proviso that she cannot talk to anyone except those who were investigating her and she must return to the house 24 hours after she left. She returned 14 hours later after the Air Force command officially authorized her to continue her stint in the show.

For the first time in Philippine television history, housemate Rustom Padilla admitted his homosexuality to fellow housemate Keanna Reeves.[10] This event was featured in Big Brother UK's Big Brother Around the World, a special show highlighting notable events from other foreign editions of the franchise. It was aired before Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack.

Teen Edition 1

Since the show started, Aldred Gatchalian had a difficult time adjusting to his new environment and new housemates and he never resolved his problems, resolving to make his voluntary exit on Day 7. Two days later, new housemate Joaqui Mendoza took his place. It was widely speculated before he left that Aldred was underaged, hence his voluntary exit. However, in his first interview a week after his exit, he stated that he left because of homesickness and the pressure to fit in.

Season 2

Film director Jose Javier Reyes, who previously sat in as one of the jurors in Pinoy Dream Academy, lambasted the program, stating the show wanted to bring "everyone who had a face and a body." Reyes added that the program was a boot camp for Philippines' Next Top Model, exhibited disturbing behavior from certain housemates, and describing the challenges as "meaningless." He concluded that the whole ordeal was an audition for a new Star Cinema film or for an episode of the Maalaala Mo Kaya drama series.[11] In reaction, the show's director, Laurenti Dyogi, defended the program by giving clarifications on certain issues presented by Reyes, especially the fact that housemates actually learn something, citing Nel Rapiz' atonement of not urinating in a public place again. But Dyogi admitted that there is no way to please all of them, especially on their sensibilities. In fact, Dyogi divulged that Reyes already told ABS-CBN about his article even before it was published.[12]

In a March 22, 2007 memorandum, MTRCB took the network to task for airing the "naughty actuations" of Dionne Monsanto. Board chairman Consoliza Laguardia said Dionne "inserted her hands in the underwear" of Ezekiel Dimaguila in the March 20, 2007 episode, with the show management invited to a meeting on March 27, 2007 at the board's office in Quezon City. As a result of the hearing, director Laurenti Dyogi, stated in his letter to the Board the same day that the network would issue an apology to viewers who may have been offended by Dionne's behavior and will continue to keep tabs on her. Show host Toni Gonzaga apologized on behalf of the management on the episode aired a few hours after the meeting. Big Brother also ordered Dionne to stay away from Dimaguila from March 28 to March 31.[13]

On Day 63, Bea Saw and Maricris Dizon were caught up in a heated argument after the latter suspected the former's feelings for fellow housemate Nel Rapiz. Bea denied any accusations. Maricris, not content with her answers, started to make threatening remarks against Bea. The two did not end their conversation well and the following day, Dizon was ejected from the House after making threatening remarks to the housemates.

Pinoy Big Brother and Big Brother Slovenia agreed on a swap where their respective housemates, Bruce Quebral and Tina Semolič, were to participate. While Tina left the Philippines without much incident, Bruce was the topic of discrimination by Slovenian housemates Miha and Pero. Their inappropriate remarks did not sit well with their fellow housemates and the audience. Pero was forcibly evicted over his actions, including holding a knife in a threatening manner, and Miha was automatically nominated for the fifth eviction round, along with nominees Jasmin and Sonja.

Days' after Nel Rapiz' eviction from the House on June 23, 2007, an e-mail coming from an "MA Masscom graduate" who claimed to work for the show as a "conceptualizer" surfaced. The author, who was said to be involved in the voting procedure, divulged that on the night in question, Wendy Valdez was in fact the lowest vote-earner, but she was not evicted because "administrators" wanted her relationship with Bruce Quebral "to give it one last shot." The author also allegedly helped in handling the auditions by determining the fates of each housemates with assistance from "talent auditors." The show production team denounced the claims, stating that no conceptualizers and talent auditors exist in the show since the show's concept is already created in the Netherlands, where the franchise originated. Furthermore, no conceptualizer was involved in the screening process, which selected the Top 30 candidates to be screened for the show, not the Top 100 as the e-mail claimed. The staff stated that the entire tabulation of votes was done electronically and it is closely monitored by a third-party accounting firm since the start of the open voting, the results of which are totally unpredictable. In fact, they stated that Nel and Bruce were really the lowest vote earners and the trend did not change when Bruce was evicted three days after Nel. Furthermore, the e-mail referred to show director Laurenti Dyogi as "Direk Dyogi," not "Direk Lauren" or "LMD," as those who are involved in the show call him.[14]

While these rumors and criticisms persisted, Wendy eventually reached the final four which further sparked speculations of conspiracy and put final voting results questionable. Consequently, she ended up in third place instead.

Celebrity Edition 2

There had been early reports that Ethel Booba wanted to back out days before the launch. She said that she might not be psychologically fit for the show.[15] On Day 4, after much persuasion, she went in. However, she would complain about the nature of the show.[16] until she left the house along with Mcoy Fundales on Day 40. However, on Day 56, she expresses her willingness to return. Her plea was granted on Day 59 but only as a houseguest. She exited the House on Day 77.

The housemates were assigned to create a 15-minute video as part of their sixth weekly task. Unfortunately, Big Brother accused Mcoy Fundales of plagiarism[17] because of the script he made that was similar to The Ghost of August Mayford by Troy Taylor.[18] Fundales stated that the script was original. After much pressure about the issue, he left the house on Day 40 together with Ethel Booba. During the Über broadcast the next day, Big Brother apologized for any misunderstanding from the incident. Laurenti Dyogi, the show's director, stated that Big Brother's intention was to clarify to Fundales if he will be willing to be held liable for any copyright complaint after the film had been shown on television.[19]

On Day 66, Yayo Aguila left the Big Brother House because of news that her mother was hospitalized due to a heart ailment. Yayo went to the hospital only to find that her mother had died. After the funeral of her mother on Day 70, Aguila expressed her intention of coming back as a competing housemate. With only two weeks left in its extended run, Endemol gave four conditions, one being that one of the remaining housemates give up their stint. Gaby de la Merced wanted to volunteer but the fourth condition said that an overnight poll would take place on who should stay between de la Merced and Aguila. The housemate leaving would receive PHP400,000, extracted from the final four's cash prizes as a supposed donation to Aguila's family. Aguila was reunited with the housemates but it was only short-lived as she was placed in the public vote against de la Merced. She was evicted on Day 71.

On Day 60, Baron Geisler got drunk and started flirting with the female housemates and making insulting remarks to Big Brother. The male housemates were ordered to put Baron in a secret room for him to sober up. He promised that it will not happen again but he went out of control again on Day 73, in the wee hours of Christmas. Geisler was forcibly evicted on Day 75.

As part of the tests given to the housemates on the final week, on Day 77, they were asked who among them does not deserve to make it to the finals as part of the mock nomination round, to which the housemates didn't answer. After much hinting from Big Brother, the housemates nominated each other, with Jon Avila nominating Gaby dela Merced and Riza Santos. The following day, Avila admitted to making a remark saying, "Is everyone thinking what I’m thinking? Five medallions are here. And we’re five here", that influenced his fellow housemates' choices. After further consideration with Endemol, Avila was forcibly evicted on Day 81.

Teen Edition Plus

There had been speculations that the voting was manipulated during the finals. The management and Endemol made a joint statement on June 13, 2008 that the voting was fair and no manipulation took place.[20]

Double Up

In a confession room session on October 7, 2009, JP Lagumbay learned that his employer did not approve his leave, which he filed to appear on the show. He was ordered to report back to work by 8AM the following day or he could face sanctions. JP eventually left the House in the wee hours.[21][22]

During a live show on Day 7, Cathy was introduced as a new housemate wearing a nurses uniform as a costume for the Halloween-themed show. The Philippine Nurses Association sent a protest against Remperas, saying that her act destroyed the image of a nurse. The show apologized for any misunderstanding and explained that the housemates should wear a costume as part of the live show.[23]

After the House Battle on the sixth week, Tom Mott punched the Activity Hall's wall.[24] Although he claimed that it was a result of frustration as a result of losing the House Battle and falling ill hours before, the other housemates deemed it as threatening behavior. Tom was allowed to go to the hospital[25] to consult with a doctor. However, despite getting back inside before the 24-hour window lapsed, Mott was forcibly evicted over the destruction of Big Brother's property and left on Day 42.

Rica Paras, the franchise's first transgender housemate, was the subject of bullying by housemates Hermes Bautista, Yuri Okawa, Rocky Salumbides, Mariel Sorino, Rob Stumvoll and Patrick Villanueva,[26] with Salumbides made adding derogatory remarks, such as Paras being a "she-man." The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), where Paras is vice-chairman, released an official statement about the events on their official website.[27] Big Brother ordered the housemates involved to apologize for their behavior. Despite what happened, the show received a Sybil Award from STRAP on May 22, 2010, because of its openness towards transgender people.[28]

As part of the Three Kings task, Tibo Jumalon wore a bahag, a garment worn by Philippine indigenous groups, particularly Aetas, Mangyans and Dumagats, to teach the value of frugality of clothing. This called the attention of the Katribu, a party representing indigenous peoples in Congress, because of Jumalon's inappropriate way of wearing the bahag. Partylist president Beverly Longid said,

While we understand that the intent of its use is to promote certain moral values, we believe it diminished the cultural symbolism and importance of the indigenous garb ... Any inappropriate use of our culture not only offends our sensitivities but also demeans the integrity of our customs and traditions, which we passionately defend together with our rights to ancestral land and self-determination.

She called the show producers to teach the proper way of wearing the garment.[29] The show production staff later responded and said

We apologize if our housemate was unable to strictly follow the guidelines but rest assured that, at this moment, measures are underway to correct that matter ... it did not intend to offend the sensitivities and customs of the indigenous people in any way.[30]

Teen Clash 2010

On April 27, 2010, Eslove Briones was meted a forced eviction after he played with a knife and pointing it at Tricia Santos, though done jokingly,[31] per a rule allowing such punishment immediately if the housemate committed violent acts or has the tendency to do so. He later threatened her about doing the stabbing act again, especially when Tricia complained to Big Brother through the house cameras about his actions. In one episode, Big Brother first shown the video footage of the incident to fellow housemate, Joe, who reacted that Eslove's actions were not a joke, but rather a serious matter.[32]

Housemates Ivan Dorschner and Ann Li shared an intimate kiss in a game of Spin the Bottle on May 26, 2010. Live feed subscribers witnessed the incident and clips of this scene circulated around Facebook and YouTube. Big Brother called all housemates to the confession room about the matter. The scene was not broadcast on television as it would attract the MTRCB, who are strict in terms of certain acts concerning teens.[33] Reports further stated that not only Dorschner and Li did the act but so did other housemates.[34]


During Team High-Voltage's eighth weekly task, in which they would have to produce a news program for the whole week, Wendy Tabusalla reported that a certain housemate, later identified as Joseph Biggel, was lying about his "first-time" experiences, such as eating ice cream and swimming in a pool.[35] His "first-time" frenzies created a buzz on social media sites and forums prior to Tabusalla's reporting; various photos and videos that debunked Biggel's claims surfaced. Many people believed that he did it to get sympathy from the viewers.[36] Big Brother ordered Biggel to explain the photos and videos. Show psychologist Randy Dellosa said Biggel experienced selective amnesia, in which a person forgets one particular moment in their life. Biggel was found to have fudged over details of his family past, which later resulted in his father hanging up on him three days before the finale.

Despite the controversy, Biggel was given a segment in the fourth teen edition's Über afternoon show, paying homage to his "first-time" antics when he was still in the House.

Teen Edition 4

There have been reports saying that housemate Kit Thompson is said to be older than his presented age, which is 15, even surpassing the show's age limit, which is only 13 to 17 years old.

During the week-long interlude between the Unlimited finale and Teen Edition 4's opening night, senior members of the production staff stated via Twitter about the confidentiality of potential housemates being very important in the show,[37][38] implying that at least one shortlisted housemate has been sent home just as all other confirmed housemates were already isolated ahead of the launch. This was a result of pictures of possible housemates making rounds online just after a teaser video was shown in the Unlimited finale. Some of the "rumored" housemates were later confirmed on opening night and the introduction show for a second batch of housemates on Day 2. Though lists and pictures of rumored housemates - some of which are confirmed - have been spreading since the franchise's launch, it is the first time the staff announced a disqualification among possible housemates to be made public.

A video was made days before opening night wherein Ryan Boyce explained his rationale for joining the show. He also mentioned certain legs of the audition process, which is a violation of show rules against discussing such matters outside of production. Although it was supposedly made by Boyce's friends for private viewing by family members, the video appeared for a short time on the video-sharing site Vimeo after he entered the house.

Only a few weeks into the show, several housemates were a subject of several romantic issues: Mariz being given a marriage proposal prior to entering in the House, Alec kissing Jai "accidentally", Yves forgetting his girlfriend outside the House and chooses to be with Myrtle and formation of various love teams and triangles. Several Filipino celebrities, including Vice Ganda and host John Prats, expressed their shock with how quick today's teenagers fall in love,[39] with Vice Ganda coining the meme "PBB Teens?".

All In

The Philippine Commission on Women called the attention of MTRCB to review an episode aired June 4, 2014 where Jayme Jalandoni was asked if she wanted to pose nude for a painting, as part of their sixth weekly task. Jalandoni was hesitant about the challenge at first but she accepted after being given some time to think about it. According to the PCW, there is nothing wrong with women posing nude, so long as it is her free choice to do so.[40] They added that the show violated her freedom of thought, conscience and belief, stating that "Big Brother's exercise of authority over her is evidently suggestive; placing the female contestant under pressure amid the latter’s rejection of the challenge." They cited Section 19 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Magna Carta of Women as stating that media organizations should not induce, encourage, and/or condone violence against women in any form and/or in the violation of their human rights.[41] Pia Cayetano, principal author of the Magna Carta of Women, commented the event as tantamount to coercion. Menerva Espanta spokesperson for the Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (Young Artists for True Freedom) talent advocacy group, also commented on an episode where three of the housemates' mothers were tasked to clean the rooms of housemates, branding the show as anti-women, stating "The show reinforces how society treats women and their role in society. That they are simply meant for housework and/or sexual entertainment disguised as art. Art should be reflective of society and challenge it. PBB has used art as a justification for treating a woman like a commodity in a show which targets a young audience." [42]


On its first week, photos of Bailey May and Kenzo Gutierrez being affectionate to each other, as well as other male housemates, went viral on social media. Screencaps of the following events that were edited with sexual undertone also went viral. Many expressed concern about the potential malice these actions bring to the viewers. On June 27, 2015, resident psychologist Randy Dellosa explained that their actions could be caused by their family backgrounds and the fact that they have an openly gay housemate, Ryan Bacalla; their actions are to make Ryan feel comfortable around the male housemates. Dellosa assured the housemates' parents and the viewers that there is nothing wrong with brotherly affection, and explained changing views on gender and sexuality in the modern times, as well as the perception of Filipinos about this kind of affection.[43] Despite this, MTRCB has called the management for a meeting about the issue as it was getting "numerous feedback and complaints." The board wanted to make sure that the show will “guarantee that no participants... [are] exposed to situation, challenges and experiences which may be prejudicial to his or her well-being, or which may have a negative impact on the youth and other audiences who will be watching the show.”[44] As a preventive response, ABS-CBN cut off its free live stream online and on cable TV on July 3, 2015. According to them, this is to protect the housemates against netizens who paint the housemates in a negative light.[45] In response, fans started a petition to bring back the livestream.[46] With the entrance of the regular housemates on Day 50, viewers were given limited streaming for two hours from Monday to Friday, during Pinoy Big Brother: 737 Online. Eventually, 24-hour live streaming returned on SkyCable on August 17, 2015.

Upon his entrance on Day 51, Philip Lampart was permitted to bring his one-year-old son, Romeo, inside the House for a week. The show wanted to highlight the importance of a parent's presence in the development of the child. [47] This move was met with mixed reactions, with some finding it good for the show, and others as an exploitative move. MTRCB has yet to release a formal statement regarding the matter once they receive a formal complaint. [48]

Lucky 7

On an episode that aired on August 12, 2016, housemates were seen laughing at an undergarment owned by housemate Rita Gaviola, a member of the Badjao ethnic group. The housemates apologized for their actions after. Albay representative Joey Salceda calls Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to step in on the incident, saying that some discrimination happened against the Badjaos.[49] Salceda added:

From the start, PBB should have been structured to prevent its occurrence. Treatment of indigenous peoples is too delicate for a 'role playing-cum-confession room' context. It may address the direct participants but what about millions who watch the violation but failed for some reason to watch the episode of correction.

MTRCB called for a meeting about the incident, citing factors like Rita's age and her role as a representative of an indigenous group as valid reasons for the conference. [50]


  1. Stern warning for ‘Big Brother’ -
  2. "Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition 2 :: Home". Archived from the original on 2006-01-07.
  5. George Orwell comes to RP television -
  7. Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition 2 :: Home
  8. :: Welcome to Manila Bulletin Online ::
  11. Big Brother has a lot of explaining to do by Jose Javier Reyes, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 17, 2007
  12. Lauren Dyogi defends "Pinoy Big Brother" Season 2 by Divine Enya Mesina, the Philippine Entertainment Portal, May 30, 2007
  13. Naughty housemate gets PBB in trouble, Philippine Daily Inquirer Online
  14. PBB Management Answers Letter of So-called PBB Insider, Pinoy Big Brother website
  40. Marjorie Duran (June 6, 2014). "PCW alarmed over 'PBB' nude challenge". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  41. Tricia Aquino (June 5, 2014). "Agency asks MTRCB to look into 'nude painting' task on 'Pinoy Big Brother'". Interaksyon TV5. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  42. (June 10, 2014). "As MTRCB summons 'PBB' execs, Sen. Pia says show 'crossed the line'". Interaksyon TV5. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  43. (June 27, 2015). "Is there an issue between Kenzo & Bailey?". ABS-CSN. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  44. (July 1, 2015). "MTRCB summons PBB execs amid bromance controversy". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  45. ABS-CBN (July 3, 2015). "Management tweet on Kenzo-Bailey issue". ABS-CBN. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  46. ABS-CBN (July 7, 2015). "Fans start petition to bring back 'PBB' livestream". ABS-CBN. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  47. (August 12, 2015). "Filipino fathers' love for family, honored in Big Brother's New Task in PBB 737". Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  48. (August 11, 2015). "Baby inside PBB house: Cute or exploitative? Netizens react". Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  49. Rappler (August 14, 2015). "Salceda calls for action after Badjao contestant teased on PBB". Rappler. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  50. Rappler (August 15, 2015). "MTRCB summons 'PBB' execs after Badjao contestant bullying incident". Rappler. Retrieved August 15, 2015.

External links

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