Karina Bautista’s supporters were thrilled when Pinoy Big Brother Otso host Toni Gonzaga announced that their girl had secured one of the final two spots in her batch’s Big 4.
At the start of the season, this 16-year-old from Isabela endeared herself to viewers by opening up about her life. Born to a Filipino mother and a Japanese father, Karina spent her formative years in the care of her maternal grandparents. Her parents weren’t around a lot because of work—her father was based in the US and her mother worked as a nanny in Hong Kong. As such, almost every time Karina made a wish back then, she wished for time with her parents. But it was not to be.
“Nag-aalaga kasi ng batang bulag si Mama sa Hong Kong, tapos yung Papa ko naman nasa US, isa siyang businessman. Yung last time na nagkita kami, birthday ko yun. Every year promise siya ng promise na kukunin niya ako, pero hindi nangyayari,” Karina revealed in an interview she did prior to the show, tears brimming in her eyes.
While the fates may not have blessed her with a traditional family setup, they made up for it by giving her other gifts. For instance, by the time Karina entered her teens, she had blossomed into quite a beautiful and smart young woman. Not only was she getting good grades in school, but the comely lass had also begun joining beauty pageants in and around her hometown. However, when Karina’s maternal grandparents got wind of their granddaughter’s “extracurricular activities,” they weren’t happy at all. They forbade Karina from pursuing the life of a pageant girl, citing safety concerns.
Realizing that she needed to strike out on her own in order to live life on her own terms, Karina packed up her things and moved out of her maternal grandparents’ home. She found a room for rent in Rosario and continued competing in beauty pageants, using whatever prize money she earned to support herself. It must be noted that throughout her time in the pageant world, she managed to maintain good academic standing. Not an easy feat, considering she didn’t have much of a support system.
When the opportunity to try out for the Kapamilya network’s Star Hunt: The Grand Audition Show came along, Karina threw her hat in the ring—and the rest, as they say, is history. Because of her backstory, she was dubbed the “Miss Independent ng Isabela.”
Karina did her best on all the weekly tasks, and her hard work didn’t go unnoticed. For instance, when she and Seth Fedelin had to dance and paint at the same time, Pinoy Big Brother alums Dawn Chang, Mickey Perz and Zeus Collins—who were invited to judge the housemates—had good words to say about their performance.
At one point during the season, Karina opened up about her strained relationship with her maternal grandparents, as well as her mother. Big Brother then made Karina be one of two Big Helpers in the house. Karina and Kaori Oinuma spent a week or so cleaning up after and preparing food for their fellow housemates. Eventually, Big Brother rewarded them with a much-needed and well-deserved pampering session. But that wasn’t the only thing he had in store for Karina. Unbeknownst to her, he flew in her mother Jessica from Hong Kong so the two could patch things up. Watch their tearful reunion below.
The show also made a way for Karina to come face-to-face with her maternal grandmother Lola Celeste. It was then that Karina learned that no matter what went down between her and her grandparents in the past, family is love.
Speaking of love, Karina developed feelings for ex-housemate and house player Aljon Mendoza during their time in the Big Brother house. Netizens dubbed their relationship “star-crossed,” because even if they liked each other, they couldn’t take things further as Karina already has a boyfriend. Eventually, after dancing around each other for most of the season, Aljon and Karina had a heart-to-heart in the garden, where she advised him not to wait around for her and he respected her decision.
Karina made her fair share of mistakes during her stint as one of this batch’s official teen housemates. But she more than made up for all of them by keeping it real, as evidenced by her performance in the much talked-about “tapatan” that took place between the housemates and the Star Dreamers. The questions became more personal as the session went on, but Karina displayed a strength beyond her years, leaving no question unanswered. She even doled out some words of wisdom everyone—teens and adults alike—would do well to live by.
“Wala naman yun sa kung gaano karami ang mali mo. Basta you learn from your mistakes and you never do it again.”