It’s noticeable that the fields of sports, entertainment and politics all require popularity. But of the three areas, politics seems to be the final stop hence the term polcelebs to mean becoming a politician from being a celebrity. There are countless entertainment personalities and sports figures who have joined politics in their later life mostly armed only with their popularity.
The very first popular entertainment figure who jumped to the political arena in the national level was matinee idol Rogelio Dela Rosa. He was elected to the senate in 1957 and served as senator for a term of 6 years. His unbeatable partnership with Carmen Rosales on the silver screen probably gave Rogelio the confidence to run for president in the 1961 elections.
Against the incumbent President Carlos Garcia and Rogelio’s very own brother-in-law and currently vice president Diosdado Macapagal, political analysts were one in saying that Rogelio Dela Rosa would win the presidency hands down. But for unknown reasons, Rogelio withdrew his candidacy a short while before the elections. His foremost backer, the Roces family, owner of the largest-circulated Manila Times, were greatly disappointed.
Rogelio Dela Rosa’s failure to become president was somehow fulfilled by Joseph Ejercito Estrada. The movie star-turned politician first tasted an elected position via a painstaking protest against San Juan Mayor Boyong Sto. Domingo. During the presidency of Cory Aquino, Estrada ran the Grand Alliance for Democracy of Vincente Puyat. Senators Estrada and Enrile were the only 2 oppositionists (against Cory’s senatorial ticket) who entered the magic 24.
After serving as vice of President Ramos, Estrada became the Philippine president by soundly beating Jose De Venecia in the 1998 national elections. However, President Estrada was ousted from the highest office of the land by a people power called EDSA II in 2001 which enthroned Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, his vice president.
At present, we have 3 senators from the entertainment sector, namely action stars Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada. From being a lowly stuntman, Lito shifted to politics by winning the seat for vice governor of Pampanga. After serving as governor for 9 years, he ran for senator and won by a hairline.
In the same breadth, Bong Revilla also served as vice governor of Cavite before being elected governor and later as senator. But unlike Lito, Bong is a scion of Ramon Revilla, a former senator who was close to Malacañang. As for Jinggoy, he inherited the political territory of his father. Jinggoy was vice-mayor of San Juan for one term, mayor for 3 terms before running and winning as senator.
A big surprise in the political game is ER Ejercito, a.k.a. Jorge Estregan, Jr. From his contravida roles, no one thought that ER would make a difference in Pagsanjan, Laguna. But when he became the town mayor, ER had greatly contributed to the progress which was evidenced by the Outstanding Mayor award he received 3 times in a row. There are talks that ER is to run for Laguna governor.
Even the fortune-tellers would not have predicted that Vilma Santos would be Batangas governor. Perhaps her marriage to a political clan contributed or directly caused Vilma’s entering politics. She first successfully ran and served as mayor of Lipa for 3 terms before challenging Governor Armand Sanchez. For now, Vilma is swearing that she is not interested in any national position.
At the height of the basketball mania in the 1970s and 1980s, Toyota players Robert Jaworski and Francis Arnaiz were given the opportunity to join the movies. They even had a tv sitcom for a long while like Freddie Webb. This Olympian famous for his fastbreak play was part of the long-running sitcom Chicks To Chicks pitting his comedic talents with the natural humor of Nova Villa.
Although he is the son of the renowned film director Temyong Marquez, Joey Marquez used to be a PBA player before he joined the movies and prospered as a comedian of sorts. Yoyong Martirez enjoyed being a comedian after his successful basketball career as the famed guard of the San Miguel team in the PBA.
In later life, Robert Jaworski would become a senator. Likewise, Freddie Webb also became a senator for one term. However, Ramon Fernandez, the Toyota team captain called “El Presidente” failed in his bid for a senate seat. Joey Marquez was a two-term mayor of Parañaque while Yoyong Martirez is currently the vice mayor of Pasig. Incidentally, Dodot Jaworski won as congressman but lost on his next try to current Pasig mayor Bobby Eusebio.
Rudy Fernandez is one of the most notable losers in the political derby. Unexpectedly, Rudy was convincingly defeated by Sonny Belmonte for the mayorship of Quezon City. Incidentally, Belmonte’s vice mayor is Herbert Bautista, another entertainment celebrity who had served 3 terms and is now poised to run as mayor. Herbert defeated the incumbent Connie Angeles.
In the recent senatorial contest, there was the grand debacle of entertainment celebrities. Tito Sotto, a former vice mayor of Quezon City and a topnotcher senator in the 1987 elections miserably lost in spite of the backing of Eat Bulaga, the longest running noontime tv show.
Cesar Montano was to run for governor of Bohol but suddenly changed his mind and joined the administration’s senatorial slate together with Tito Sotto. Richard Gomez likewise would have easily won the gubernatorial contest in Bulacan had he not decided to run independent. Like Tito, both Cesar and Richard lost in the same senatorial race.
Losing in politics may be fatal. Bert “Tawa” Marcelo who ran for governor of Bulacan and Dindo Fernando who lost to Mayor Caruncho of Pasig both succumbed to heart attacks, purportedly caused by their loss in politics.
But the most celebrated case of losing in politics was that of Fernando Poe, Jr. Not expecting to be a casualty, the shocking loss to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may have caused FPJ’s early demise. While in a political meeting with Chiz Escudero, Jojo Binay and some supporters, FPJ suffered aneurysm and fell into a coma. He expired in a week’s time.
For a very popular athlete like Manny Pacquiao, there was not an inkling that he would lose the congressional seat to a young woman. But fate would have it that Darlene Custodio, whose maiden name is Antonino, would be congresswoman. Gaudencio Antonino, Darlene’s grandfather, was a former senator and his wife, Magnolia, also had been a senator.
Dolphy may be the most famous personality who could have won any elective position. But he stayed away from politics. And his wisdom may be funny but painful with his consistent reply to the question why he wouldn’t join politics – “baka kasi manalo ako.”
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