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PBB’s Pamu and How the Batangueña Shows Affection

Imagine this scene one night inside the girls’ room of Big Brother’s House: the girls had just turned in, sheets draped over their bodies, eyes closed and apparently trying to get some much-needed shuteye from all the rigours of living inside Kuya’s house. Then suddenly, the sheet draped all the way over the head of the girl at the far end of the room started to shake. As it turned out, the girl underneath the bed sheet had started to giggle. Shortly, she pulled down the bed sheet to just under her chin.

Staring up at the ceiling with a facial expression that was both bemused and funny, she broke the silence in the room by blurting out to nobody in particular: “I can’t fight this feeling anymore!”

Just as I instantaneously burst out laughing, so did the other girls in the room. If you have been watching Pinoy Big Brother Unlimited Edition, then you know that the girl was not quoting a line from the eighties Billboard number one hit of the same title by the rock band REO Speedwagon.

That girl was Annielie Pamorado, a.k.a. “Pamu” inside Kuya’s House. She hails from Lipa City, by the way; and is as Batangueño as barakong kape. She talks loudly all the time, frequently prompting Carlo – a Chicago-born Fil-Am also in Big Brother’s House – to jokingly ask, “Galit ka Pamu?”

Before Unad, another Batangueño, was evicted, the two would converse with each other using the most shameless punto. These days, because she is the only Batangueño remaining in the house, Pamu rather tends to use ‘ba’ instead of the more natural ‘ga.’ Not that it makes any difference because any Batangueño watching will immediately recognize a kabayan from the inflections alone.

Then, of course, from time to time out comes the word that none of the Philippine-born, let alone the Fil-Americans, in the house recognize as Tagalog. Earlier today, for instance, just coming as she did from a conversation with what she called Big Utol, Pamu told the rest of the housemates, “Hoy, mag-iingat daw tayo sa pagsisigâ.”

“Sigâ?” everyone chorused. I burst out laughing. For the benefit of any non-Batangueño who may be reading this, the word in its infinitive form means to light a fire.

At any rate, to get back to the can’t-fight-this-feeling episode, what Pamu was announcing to the entire nation was that she could not anymore resist the amorous advances of fellow housemate Kevin. That would be Kevin Andrew Fowler, a young lad from California who apparently had not just a small dose of Pamu-induced pheromone-infection.

But there is always a catch…

That catch came in the form of Renz, the boyfriend who Pamu left in the outside world when she went to live inside Big Brother’s house. I cannot begin to imagine how it must have been like for Renz watching the love affair brew on live television.

I have no idea if anything about the show is at all scripted; but if it is, then I feel both admiration and disdain for those who manipulate the behaviour of those living inside Kuya’s house. Although, even in the beginning, both Pamu and Kevin seemed to have what in all honesty looked no more than sibling affection for each other, this affection had been manipulated by situations that practically threw the two into each other’s arms.

To top things off, when the desired amorous affair had been achieved, those behind the show brought in… Renz, who else? He had to play a basketball game with Kevin to be able to get the chance to talk to Pamu. Unbeknownst to both Renz and Kevin, whatever the result of the game was, Renz was always going to get that tête-à-tête with Pamu, anyway.

Which Pamu used, needless to say, to break off with Renz. At least, Renz could always claim that he routed Kevin in their one-on-one basketball game!

From a purely academic standpoint, I must say that I have to admire the skills of the show’s behavioural science consultants – that is, if they have them – in manipulating situations to be able to get the desired behavioural results among the housemates. I suppose all of the housemates knew what they were getting into when they auditioned.

That said, I rather found the manipulation of emotions to force a break-up between a couple objectionable. Granted that it can be argued that what the break-up proved was that Pamu’s affections for Renz were not too deep in the first place; but to force it for the entertainment of a nationwide audience seemed – to me – not just a bit overboard.

There is, of course, not just a wisp of a shipboard romance in the brewing affair between Pamu and Kevin. There will always be the question of the probability of the affair surviving the show, as members of the infamous M6 – a group of previous seasons’ housemates invited to live as guests for a week – tried to point out.

Not that there is any real validity to the question, since the young will always be young and will always be able to move on from one relationship to another, whether they are participating in a social experiment like Big Brother’s House or not.

At any rate, whether or not the affair survives after the current season concludes, Kevin is already starting to learn how Batangueños show their affections. Just this afternoon, this scene:

Pamu was walking down the corridor and Kevin stops her by walking in front of her. “Hug!” Kevin told Pamu.

“Hug-hug ka d’yan!” Pamu told him.

“Kagabi ka pa!” she continued. “Sasampalin na kita!”

[Footnote: I am not sure how non-Batangueños would have read into that short conversation; but I can assure you, being a Batangueño myself, that Pamu was, indeed, being affectionate.]

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