We consulted a movie industry veteran to get a balancing viewpoint on the recent statement of CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) against celebrities running for an elective post. For an on-the-record conversation, the veteran’s identity will be cloaked by the pseudonym MIV.
“Alam mo naman ang mga pari, minsan KSP (kulang sa pansin) din ang mga yan. Actually ganyan naman ang mga sekta (religious sects) pag nalalapit na ang election. Papansin, ika nga, para… alam mo na!” says MIV with a grin. The insinuation refers to the influence of religious denominations on politicians. There is strength in numbers hence religious leaders tend to bloat the estimated number of their flock. In the 2004 presidential elections, Bro. Eddie Villanueva had boasted of 7 million card-bearing members who, he said, are all loyal to the faith. He landed fourth in the tally with a mere 2 million votes.
“Actually, ano yang mga artista, mga tao rin yan eh. Walang ikinaiba sa pulitiko na merong mabait, merong hindi, may matalino at may bobo. But at least ang artista ay kilala mo kahit paano whereas yung pulitiko eh hanggang pangalan lang..” Anecdotal snippets on celebrities are common in the newspaper’s entertainment sections and inside stories are the main fare of the tabloid columns.
“At mas lalong nakikilala ang artista pag sumabak sa pulitika. Kasi ipi-feature na yan sa mga showbiz articles.” Fernando Poe, Jr, also known as Da King, had a full-blown biography when he ran for president, all anecdotes were courtesy of entertainment writers. In fact, in the heat of the campaign period, there was one veteran showbiz writer who revived his “slight physical injuries” complaint against FPJ which had occurred eons ago.
In elections, celebrities get a free ride on their popularity. They don’t need infomercials nor billboards just to be known by the voters. Sometimes the edge of celebrities, in terms of popularity, gets intimidating so that political foes resort to dirty tactics. FPJ’s short-lived political sojourn is a perfect example. Countless of intrigues and speculatory remarks pervaded the political atmosphere that focused on FPJ’s private life. The names of Ronyan and Lovi, his love children, suddenly surfaced. On a positive note, the writeups had granted Lovi a gatepass to the world of showbiz.
“Pero take note, hindi si Da King ang unang lumaban sa pagka-presidente. Si Rogelio Dela Rosa ang unang nag-try kaso biglang umatras in favor of his kabalen.” The then matinee idol Rogelio Dela Rosa submitted to Comelec his certificate of candidacy upon the urging of Manila Times, the most widely-read daily at the time. Pitted against the incumbent Carlos P. Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal, the poor but glamorous boy from Lubao, Rogelio had eventually withdrawn his candidacy for unexplained reasons. “Marami ngang usap na binayaran daw si Roger pero sa tingin ko natyope talaga dahil baka nakita niya kung gaano karumi ang pulitika,” MIV displays his disgust with a complementary smirk.
“Nakakalungkot ngang isipin si Goma eh,” MIV is referring to Richard Gomez who had declared his intention, not only to run but also to win. “Ano pa ba ang gusto niya? Sikat na siya, maganda ang asawa niya at matalino at mayaman pa. Marami siyang talents lalo na sa sports. Ewan ko ba, talaga sigurong mahilig sa challenge si Goma.” In fairness to Richard, political analysts say that he is a shoo-in for any elective post, that’s owing to his clean image and straight-forwardedness. “Pero wag kang pakasiguro, ha? Maraming factors para manalo kaya hindi rin siya nakakasigurado dyan. Kaya nga sayang siya, lalo na pag natalo lang,” concern is evident in MIV’s tone.
Of course, it is the voters who will decide. And regardless of popularity, celebrities need the required funding. When Rudy Fernandez tried his luck in Quezon City, tabloid writers felt very confident so Rudy’s defeat came as a big surprise. The reason? Lack of funds. Some avid supporters, said Rudy in an interview, failed to fulfill their promise of support for the campaign. Facing the formidable machinery of Sonny Belmonte, it was only logical for him to lose.
“Si Lito, si Senador, walang talo sa kanila yan. Kita mo yung anak ang naka-puwesto ngayon sa kapitolyo. Pero sa senate, ewan ko, sa tingin ko kasi nakatsamba lang siguro dahil sa dami ng kandidato,” MIV emits a childish giggle. Lito Lapid was ranged against the heavy artillery of the administration candidate of President Joseph Estrada but Lito’s charisma gained him a decisive advantage. As governor, Lito Lapid was suspended 3 times as a way of getting back at his stubborness, so said some showbiz writers.
“Kahit saan mo tingnan, mamumuraot si senador kay Binay,” shaking his head, MIV shows his displeasure at the thought that Senator Lito Lapid is being used as a pawn to fight palace enemies. “Gaya ng sabi ko, sa kanila wala siyang talo pero hindi niya balwarte ang Makati. Isa pa, hindi na siya sikat ngayon. Semplang nga ang Tatlong Baraha niya eh. Baka sa election sa Makati mayor ay maging Talong Baraha siya!” forced laughter trails MIV’s statement. Tatlong Baraha, Lito Lapid’s entry in the recent Metro Manila Filmfest landed last place with earnings way below the invested production budget of P24 million. Another negative factor going against Lito Lapid is his difficulty in the English language. Makati is the premiere business city and home of the rich and financially famous.
“Tingnan mo si Ate Vi, aligaga hanggang ngayon,” MIV jokingly says with a couple of blinks. Lipa Mayor Vilma Santos, now in her last term, is still undecided on whether to run for Batangas governor or a congressional seat. Unknown for any skill other than her acting prowess, Vilma had followed the footsteps of Lito Lapid in proving a celebrity’s effectiveness and efficiency in handling an executive position. “Siguro walang talo si Ate Vi kasi matindi rin ang charisma niyan sa tao saka obvious na hindi plastic,” says MIV with an air of confidence knowing that Batangueños are after performances and not promises. In the light of conflict between Gov. Armand Sanchez and Vice-Gov. Ricky Recto, incidentally her brother-in-law, Vilma has kept her cool and refused to comment on the issue of the gubernatorial suspension.
Pagsanjan mayor ER Ejercito
Another feather in the cap of celebrities-turned-politicians is E.R. Ejercito who was formerly a bad guy in the movies but turned to be a good guy as Pagsanjan mayor. E.R. was awarded Outstanding Mayor for several times. He is currently the president of KAPPT (Kapisanan ng Artista sa Pelikulang Pilipino at Telebisyon). Not so lucky is E.R’s half-brother Gary Estrada who had run and lost several times in his mother’s native Quezon province. It is reported that Gary is running again for the nth time. Gary is married to Bernadette Alysson, a former actress.
“Kung lalaban si JV sa senator, malaki ang panalo kasi mabango si President Erap ngayon,” MIV states with emphasis on the title President. “Eh noon ngang si Jinggoy… di mo akalaing papasok, di ba? May followers na rin talaga ang dating presidente kaya mahirap ding basta itumba ang kandidato niya lalo pa kung anak. Siguro dyan natin makikita na may mga botanteng nag-iisip talaga at hindi basta naniniwala sa mga intriga.” More on Erap, MIV reiterates his firm belief that all accusations thrown on Erap are not just mere political harrassment but a product of his foe’s paranoia.
“Ang isang sayang si Boots, si Boots Anson-Roa. Wala kasi siyang machinery saka nung time na tumakbo siya… kelan ba yun, 2004 yata, medyo hindi na makinang ang pangalan niya,” declares MIV with a hint that Boots is a friend of his. Boots Anson-Roa landed way below the borderline after the senatorial tally in 2004. Her son-in-law, from the Puno clan, handled her campaign. “Masyado kasing close kay Boots ang PR man niya, dapat kumuha siya ng iba para hindi biased. Saka yan din ang hirap ng sobrang clean image, ano? Walang intriga kay Boots kaya parang hindi na tuloy napansin. But in fact…” MIV deliberately hangs his sentence with the assumption that everybody knows of Boots Anson-Roa’s good qualities and sterling achievements outside the moviedom. Her last vital position was as CEO of IBC-13 and she is presently the head of Mowelfund.
Former Parañaque mayor Joey Marquez
“Si Tsong nagsawa na yata,” referring to Joey Marquez. MIV relates that Joey was a complete contrast of his comedic image whenever at city hall in Parañaque. “May patawa rin yan minsan pero humor lang, hindi kengkoy gaya sa TV. Siguro kung tumakbo yan ng ibang puwesto, kahit senator malamang manalo. Si Ness nga nakisakay eh kaso rider lang siya kay Tsong kaya semplang siya.” Ness, more known as Alma Moreno, badly lost in the political tussle to Mayor Bernabe. Unknown to the public, Joey Marquez was a graduate of an accounting course and had passed the CPA board exams.
“Si Pacman, isa pa yang walang talo pag sa kanilang lugar. Pero sa Maynila? Kahit vice mayor hindi siya nakakasiguro.” MIV adds that Manny Pacquiao’s 2 movies didn’t earn break-even, a manifestation that Pacquiao’s popularity is confined only to boxing. Asked if the palace gets desperate and fields Pacquiao in the senatorial slate, MIV grins and shakes his head. “Flatly, walang panalo si Pacman kasi buong Pilipinas ang boboto. Gaya ng sabi ko, sure win siya sa teritoryo niya pero outside of his kingdom malabo ang chances niya. Eh, ikaw ba naman maniniwalang may gagawin si Pacman sa senado?”
In closing, MIV advises the voters to know their candidates regardless of affiliation, trade, creed and popularity. Forget CBCP and just follow your heart!
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