Dec 23
KUMANDER ASTIG– THE BIG CHAMP by Butch Macaro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Dec 23, 2005

This follow-up article on the Pinoy Big Brother’s Big Winner is unavoidable because there are so many things, actually good things, one can write about Nene. Another good reason I had to come up with this follow-up is that I failed to extend my personal and sincere conratulations to her in my last article.

Nene, most of you must be told, is also known as Astig, as she is referred to by some media people and her housemates at the PBB apartment. This came about because she had clearly expressed her ambition to be a soldier and even had a military training at school. This really separates Nene from the rest of the girls her age. This undoubtedly renders her different from most other girls. Even before the final decision was handed down, majority of PBB followers expected her to win. Nene (Jennivev Santillan Tamayo in real life) was the popular choice and the most deserving. She did not expect the overall prize in cash and in kind which totaled P6 million.

Actually, she won P1 million in cash, a Titanium car, a house and lot in an exclusive subdivision courtesy of Mr. Delfin Lee, an Ink for Less outlet for computer servicing and many others.

She even said that she expected Jayson Gainza to win the prize after Uma was called as the 4th placer, and Cassandra Ponti as the 3rd placer. Both Nene and Jayson were tense when the two of them were left behind. Both remained silent because of excitement and nervousness. Then when Jayson was called as the 2nd placer, Nene could not contain her excitement and jumped with jubilation.

“I did not expect this, grabe! Thank you Lord,” was all she could say.

The young woman from Romblon, Nene, 24, got a total of 554,906 votes or 48.7% of the total votes cast. Jayson , 25, from Batangas, garnered 27.5% of the total votes, while Cassandra Ponti from Davao (whose real name is Lejanie Antigan), turning 23 in March next year shared 18% of the votes. Fourth placer Uma Barum Khouny, who celebrated his 24th birthday last November 4 inside the Pinoy Big Brother house, got only 4.7% of the total votes.

Nene frankly admitted that she is undergoing changes in her life after winning the PBB reality based contest. She is overwhelmed by the attention she is getting from thousands of avid followers, interviews from the press people and the special treatment she gets from the ABS-CBN people running the Big Brother contest. She never thought nor dreamed of all these in her whole life. She explained she only wanted a simple life with her family. The tremendous response she is getting now as the result of winning the contest makes her feel she is in a whirlwind and is not ready to face the great changes and challenges she will undergo. But hopefully, we wish that with her kind of guts and fighting spirit, she will be able to cope with, overcome and adjust to her new kind of life.

The more than one hundred days of imprisonment in the house of Big Brother came to an end at the Pinoy Expo in Angeles, Pampanga. The big number of people that trooped to the area, rumored to be bigger than the Araneta Coliseum, proved the strong attraction of the contest to people who love to be entertained more so if it is for free. Two days before the final showdown, free entrance tickets to the venue were given out with free round trip rides for Metro Manila PBB fanatics.

The presentation was as usual both jolly and vibrant with the presence of effective hosts Toni Gonzaga, Mariel Rodriguez and Willie Revillame. To add luster to the affair, Rachelle Ann Go, Sarah Geronimo, Mark Bautista, Jade Madela, the new love team of Sandara Park and Joseph Bitangcol with Jericho Rosales and Heart Evangelista sang in group with the addition of the new PBB love team of Sam Milby and Say Alonzo. Andrew E. sang with Robert Sena, Salbakuta, Orange and Lemon, original composer of Pinoy Ako, the PBB theme song. In the background as they danced were previous evictees Rico, Bob, JB, Jenny, Racquel, Chx, Franzen, Sam and Say. Charo Santos Concio delivered her congratulatory speech and thanked all the participants in the first ever PBB competition. ABS-CBN top brass Gabby Lopez announced the winner and handed the giant facsimile of the cheque five minutes before midnight amidst merrymaking, music and pandemonium.

After all the excitement we all experienced, what will happen next? Will Jennivev Santillan Tamayo succumb to the call of showbiz? My personal suggestion is for her not to rush headlong into showbiz.

The first time I heard the news that the late Fernando Poe Jr. will run for the position of the next President of the Philippines in the 2004 national elections, I shouted a big NO to myself. My reason did not concern the probable ugly issues his political rivals will dredge up—his being a school dropout and the question of his nationality. What I feared more was the possibility that dirty politics might destroy his name, his integrity, and the respectable image he had nurtured for so many years. I was convinced that his desire to serve his people was sincere, honest and true but we must take into serious consideration that Philippine politics is permeated with crooks of all shades in the person of selfish greedy traditional politicians, the trapos who have no qualms dipping their dirty fingers into the taxpaying peoples’ money. These trapos will not just allow anyone to stand on their way and they knew FPJ was a sure winner. They did everything to destroy, malign, slander and defame the King whom they know is the hero and idol of the masses. Every possible dirty trick was thrown at FPJ. Undaunted, FPJ continued his fight to save and serve the people. As we all knew it, the King really won but was cheated through the crass manipulation of dirty politicians and some Comelec officials. The king suffered the pain of losing in silence. He was preparing himself for a long-drawn recount but succumbed to a stroke on December 14 a year ago today.

What am I driving at? Showbiz is no different from politics. In showbiz as it is in politics, your friends today will be your worst enemies tomorrow. I look at Nene as a clean and untarnished person. Although I know she is brave and a fighter, I personally do not want her to suffer the necessary inevitable travails she will find in showbiz. I want to remove her away from the ungratefulness of showbiz, from the damaging intrigues, from the powerful gods and goddesses of showbiz who hold the strings that move the showbiz denizens like puppets.

When I saw her mother (Maria Belly) on TV for the first time, I immediately surmised she is a simple, soft spoken, low profile woman. Even her father (a former seaman who wants to till the farm he inherited from his forebears) just sat silently in one corner and watched everything without saying a word. Nene’s mother was dressed simply. She must have known that she was appearing on nationwide television yet she came as simple as she was but she still earned the sympathy and approval of televiewers. That touch of simplicity, naivete and looking very provincial reminded me much of my own mother. All the members of the Tamayo family, in other words, are simple and unaffected folks

In retrospect, I believe that among the 13 housemates in the Big Brother house, Nene is the only one who did not have the illusions of being a movie star. Before she joined the PBB, Nene was working in an office at the Atlanta towers in Greenhills, San Juan. If the name of the tower sounds familiar to us, it was where the murdered Nida Blanca was discovered in November 2001.

All the earlier evicted housemates made TV appearances. Rico Barrera and Bob dela Cruz appeared in some ABS-CBN shows. Racquel appeared in Momo and Maligno where she was the lead character as the superstitious maid. In another episode, Panaghoy ng Multo, the central characters were Jenny, Rico and JB. In the episode Sukiyaki, Rico and Chx appeared as Suki and Jepoy. Say openly admitted her desire to be in showbiz too and is very vocal about it. Franzen have done some commercials of sort. Cassandra Ponti was a bold star before she joined PBB and there is enough room for her to do a comeback, with a hoped-for change in image. JB Magsaysay appeared in some weekend shows and Sam Milby, the most popular among the group, appeared in some programs and is now doing a film with John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. News have it that Sam Milby will soon take the lead in a yet untitled teleserye. The song Only You, written and recorded by Sam, is the theme song of the series. Jayson Gainza too dreams of joining showbiz which is now within his reach. Uma Khouny has showbiz in his mind as his priority although he admits he is now an over-staying alien, being an Israeli. This is a matter or problem between Uma and the people from the Bureau of Immigration.

After high school graduation at the top of her class, Nene went to Manila with the aim of trying her best to be accepted into the Philippine Military Academy. But she ended up taking computer engineering at the University of the East in Caloocan. She became the first female corps commander on a scholarship.. Her mother actually wanted Nene to study in Romblon and be a teacher. But mother cannot make plans for her daughter. After graduating from UE, Nene worked in a Korean company as information technologist. Later she joined a law office as legal assistant working for three years with the MLEU Law office at the Atlanta in Greenhills, San Juan. She begged off from her employers to try the PBB challenge on June 24, 2005. She was No. 394 in the long line and she wanted to back out but later held on and was the only one who qualified from her batch. Nene love challenges. She won a car but decided to keep it in her garage because she still wants to buy herself a motorcycle. She doesn’t know how to drive a car

Still I cannot imagine Nene being in showbiz for fear of losing her natural self. Let us admit she is not as glamorous as the female movie stars today. I wonder what role will fit Nene. Perhaps she will do best as a field news reporter or an anchor person in some ABS-CBN news programs. That at least will put her a safe distance away from showbiz. But I still believe she must make her own decisions. Whatever plans she has in her life, I have no right to question. Believing that showbiz is not her cup of tea is just my knee-jerk reaction to the possibility that Nene will try to conquer showbiz.

But whatever Nene wants, Nene will get. Therefore, here’s wishing her all the luck in the days to come.

And what about her affairs of the heart? Is there an ideal mate in the horizon for her? I just wish she will make sure that the future husband is not only after her millions. Though I never heard of reports or stories linking Nene or involving her with a man. Will that come next?.Let’s wait and see what changes Nene will undergo, including her decision to try showbiz. I only pray that she makes the right decisions. Nene has no immediate plans on what to do with the P1 million cash though she intimated she might give part of it to her family and some relatives. Asked about her plans for Christmas, Nene emphasized she wants to have a sort of reunion with his family she missed while she was in the Big Brother’s house. Her parents are now staying with her elder brother at the Tierra Nova Royal in Novaliches, Quezon City. She wants to gather all her brood at her new house and celebrate Christmas with them. What a way to spend this year holidays.