From the first season, we saw political daughter Sheena Halili. After the whole Starstruck season, we saw billboards of her father with Sheena campaigning for him. However, her acting career in GMA-7 hasn't gone so far as of the moment.
And, of course, we have Kapampangan-speaking and farm boy Tyron Perez from Tarlac, whose breakthrough in the movie industry was Mel Chionglo's Twilight Dancers (where he was delivering Kapampangan lines with fellow Kapampangan Allen Dizon).
The second season was host to not one, not two, not three, but four teen star hopefuls. We saw Ana David of San Fernando (?), Krizzy Jareno of Floridablanca, Benj Pacia of San Fernando, and my first year high school seatmate from Chevalier School about seven years ago, Chris Martin (Marayag) of San Fernando.
None of them was able to penetrate the so-called Final Four, which are traditionally given top priority by the Kapuso management in terms of career buildup. However, Chris Martin became part of Maryo J. Delos Reyes' teen flick, Happily Ever After. Since then, I haven't heard of any appearances from Chris.
No Kapampangans made it to the third season, where Marky Cielo, a proud Igorot, bagged the Ultimate Champion position.
But in the latest season (fourth), three made it, but it seems as though Aljur Abrenica, a young lad from Angeles City, Pampanga who auditioned at SM Clark, could be GMA-7's next teen star sese aside from Richard Gutierrez, Dennis Trillo, and Mark Herras. (Lizzy Pecson and Kiko Junio are the other two who lost along the way.)
A friend of Tyron Perez whom he even accompanied back during the Starstruck 1 Auditions (he was only 13 then), Aljur is still competing in the contest and is proudly showing what Kapampangans can offer showbiz. It's a battle between him, Mart Escudero, and Prince Stefan.
From the judgment of people from all walks of life -- from showbiz biggies to press people, from local TV addicts to Kapampangans themselves -- Aljur could just rise as the Ultimate Starstruck Survivor, and, not to mention, the Ultimate Starstruck Hunk, i.e., the most gorgeous male contestant.
And I can't even protest. Not because I am a Kapampangan, but because he'd win it fairly if ever. Aside from his telegenic looks, his talent is above average, too. He can also sing without splitting my ears in disgust, unlike Rainier Castillo from Batch 1.
Most probably, he got his singing genes from his Ibpa (father), who used to play in a band in Japan. In fact, it was in Japan where his father met his Inda (mother), also a singer. So that's musical genes from both parents. Then during high school, he was also part of the school band as vocalist.
There's this rumor spreading that the crowd during the Starstruck mall tour at SM Pampanga was not big.
The interpretation of others, especially non-Kapampangans, is that Aljur was shamefully not supported by his kabalen. But in one forum, a poster made this remark (which I, in a way, agree with):
"I am also a Kapampangan and I truly and wholly support Aljur, but I was not there in SM Pampanga. Kapampangans are reserved people and they don't like so much the funfare, unlike other Filipinos... I think it is the pride in us that is working."
Haha, I can't help but laugh. Probably because it's either true, or half-true. Kapampangans have the tendency to avoid being seen on television especially as fans in raging crowds, but they sure know how to recite illustrious Kapampangan names in showbiz, from Sharon Cuneta to Joseph Bitangcol.
In forums alone in cyberspace, Kapampangans express their support for Aljur, on huge basis of his Kapampangan blood. Let me feature some fanatical (and somewhat pidgin) posts:
"hi aljur..kabalen!!..prehu katang kapampangan..samasan mu nehh...busten mo reng abwang a manyira kka..go,go,go!" [We're both Kapampangans. Do good. Ignore those who say bad things about you.]
"hi Aljur!!!musta???ehem ehem,kapampangan ku din pu.hmmp galingan mu pa lalu ne??dont wori full support kami keka ikami reng clasm8s ku hir...basta pray kamu always,think positive--if u think u can do it u can..." [Ehem, I'm also a Kapampangan. Do better, okay? Worry not, my classmates and I fully support you...]
"wow,now i know may binatbat parin pala ang mga kapampangan,ang galing galing mo tsong.Dito lang ang buong Auf (Angeles University Foundation -Jason) to support you!!!!!good luck aljur hope namin makasama u sa top survivor!!!!!" [Atin la rin palang binatbat ding Kapampangan! Kagaling mo, tsong. Ati la mu kng gulut mu ding tau AUF para mamiye suporte keka. Miyabe ka sa karing Top Survivor.]
"hello kabalen daka kay botu daka syempre kaparehung kapampangan neh.. eka mag two timer abrem mula ding manyira inggit lamu ren sana manyambut ka neh,,,,,,, paki greet mula ding nursing bsn 3-b king jose feliciano college ne lalo na ku ate eve's amu balu dane byeee,,, good luck" [Hello, you're a fellow Kapampanganm so I'll vote for you. Don't twotime, and don't listen to people who say bad things about you. They're just jealous. I wish for your victory. Please greet the Nursing BSN 3-B class of Jose Feliciano College, especially me.]
"Daratang ne ing delubyu da reng inggit at alang talentu... daratang ne kasi i Aljur nyapin mangayna na la reng inggiteru ampong alang sinabi. We Kapampangans do not like showbiz so much but when we are in it, we dream big and we try to win it all. Keep all those votes for Aljur, fans and Kapampangans alike. While everybody is talking about nothing, let's keep the votes for Aljur coming!" [Here comes the threat of the jealous and non-talented. Here comes Aljur, that's why the weak and envious are trembling on their knees...]
But then, of course, we also have haters from the viewers. And to no surprise, it's that one word stereotype again for our race - mayabang.
"kaplastikan lang alam ni aljur.ende totoo yan,cnungaling!!!kaya pala mayabang KAPAMPANGAN KC!!!im insulting all kapampanganz but isa na c aljur sa pinkamayayabang!!!ang panget!!!ung double A.para kang battery na load-bat.AA meanz ANG ANGAS..ay aljur abrenica pala.bad luck!!!" [Plastik yamu i Aljur. Ay mali, malaram! Inya pala mayabang ya kasi Kapampangan ya! Ding insultuan ku ding eganaganang Kapampangan oneng i Aljur, yang pekamayabang! Matsura! Bala mu Double A ka. Buri nang sabian ning AA - "Ang Angas". Ay, Aljur Abrenica pala, haha! Bad luck!]
Quite a decent remark we got there, eh?
Anyway, one thing I look for when assessing the social value of Kapampangan teen stars is their ability to speak Kapampangan. So, can Aljur speak the K?
In pursuit of knowing, I took a look at his Starstruck Blog. Understandably, he was writing in Tagalog/English, since traditionally, people used those language in communicating with Filipinos from around the world, regardless of ethnicity.
So the next step for me was to look for a blog entry, or a part of his blog entry, exclusive to his kabalen.
In one of his February entries, I saw this statement:
"Thank you, Lord! Dakal pung salamat!"
In another entry, I saw this:
"Sa mga kaibigan, ka Bosconian (he's from an all-male school in Pampanga: Don Bosco Academy -Jason), sa mga kakilala at sa lola ko na nasa harapan (konting ingat lola) dakal a salamat kekongan!"
To refer to Kapampangans, he also uses the term kabalen.
With these few Kapampangan entries in his blog, it is not safe to conclude he speaks Kapampangan.
But wait! In this "chat transcript" with fans I found in the GMA-7 website, I saw the following:
"Dakal a salamat, kabalen..e ko migaganaka..."
"E na kami munta ken.. di ba mig-mall tour na kami king SM Pampanga?"
I have a strong feeling that he speaks the language well -- probably the same level of proficiency as most Kapampangan teenagers who lived their childhood speaking Kapampangan at home, with relatives, and Kapampangan friends.
I just hope he can be tapped one time to deliver the cause of many Kapampangans: promote Kapampangan in its own territory.
But with GMA-7 holding his neck, perhaps the price would be high. The fee might be affordable only to political candidates.
Nevertheless, I personally root for him to win. 1) For being Kapampangan, and 2) for deserving it. May he never forget his roots when he makes it big in the industry.
[And may he act in one of my digital films, too, hehe.]
Here is a snippet ripped from free TV, where Jolina Magdangal herself (a host of the show) said that the strong support of Aljur's kabalen is one big factor why Aljur of Pampanga stays in the show.
Just pretend it's not a lipped performance. He sings well live, too.