You gotta love Kris Aquino. The older she gets, the more she contradicts herself—cancels herself out really—given the huge gap between what she says and what she does, who she thinks she is and what she actually stands for.
Kris is symptomatic of what ails popular culture in this country. She is our very own Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton—and she predates them both. Long before we kept up with the Kardashians, long before reality TV, long before social media, we had Kris over sharing about her life, washing her dirty laundry in public, making a business and a career out of being tactless and out-of-control.
Long before being sushal was reason enough to become celebrity, we already had Kris. She, whose only claim to fame was being daughter of beloved hero Ninoy and beloved President Cory. She could not act, sing, or dance to save her life, but boy, could she talk. And so we let her speak.
Now that she has made a career out of it, there is no more escaping her. And ignoring her just makes things worse—she imagines that silence is consent.
Until of course she does something extraordinarily absurd—insensitive, superficial, ill-conceived—and we are all reminded of the dangers of letting Kris be.
Kris plays Presidential sister
Case in point: the APEC Summit 2015. Kris played the role of Presidential Sister number 4 to the hilt—and the only way she knows how: by posting photos on her Instagram account. What she wore for every event, who designed her clothes and did her make-up and styling, a selfie with her sisters before one event, a photo with the President before the final dinner with APEC leaders.
Oh, and the hashtag #MyBrotherIsAwesome.
Who else should do PR for the President but his own sister?
Yet another part of her role as Presidential Sister number 4 required that she host an APEC Lunch for Spouses with her three sisters. And in classic Kris fashion, she spoke about having spent on additional expenses themselves, in order to deliver “the best of our country.” She said on November 13, “WE are proud to be doing this for our national pride
& in solidarity with our brother PNoy.”
Which might also be why at the lunch itself, she lost no time in mentioning how her brother had made the Philippines the second fastest-rising economy in the world. Who else would be able to bring that into an introduction that’s supposed to be for and about the spouses of APEC leaders?
Ah, but everything is about Kris, we are reminded. Not to mention about her awesome brother.
Kris plays hostess
This luncheon could have been an opportunity for Kris to show us all that the press releases about her hosting skills are true: she is in a class all her own. This was a chance for her to show us that while on one hand she can host a daily talk show and speak to a mass audience, she can also rise to the occasion of an audience of APEC Leaders’ Spouses, ones who deserve more respect than what Kris gives her TV audience on any day.
But alas. Kris did not know the difference between hosting her talkshow and hosting a dignified luncheon.
A major misstep was the fact that she did not know the names of her distinguished guests, and so tasked to introduce them one by one, Kris looked at her IG account on her phone and called on them by country.
Yes, like in a beauty pageant.
And because everything is about her, Kris did the introductions based on the most superficial things she could say about each country. This is the country me and my sisters have traveled to the most—Japan! This is the country which all my friends are going to, I don’t know why . . . Taiwan! And this is the one where me and Derek (Ramsey, who co-hosted the show) have shot a lot of commercials: Thailand!
How hard was it to introduce these women by their names? Susan Siew from Chinese Taipei. Mufidah Kalla from Indonesia. Akie Abe from Japan. Ho Ching from Singapore. Naraporn from Thailand. Mai Thi Hanh from Vietnam. Maria Clemencia Rodriguez Munera from Colombia. Regina Tong Ching-yi from Hong Kong. And so on and so forth.
For someone who has created a career out of being an Aquino, Kris should know how important it is that we call each other by our names. For someone who sells notions of the empowered woman, she should know that the names we call ourselves—beyond the roles that we play—is a critical part of our identities.
Ah, but that might be too much for Kris to think about. After all, what would she gain by championing women for who they are, and not for who their husbands are?
Kris as cultural crisis
After a tiring, frustrating, grueling APEC week during which we suffered the consequences of having a government that decided to sacrifice public good for hospitality purposes, Kris just had to make things worse.
Having toured the APEC Leaders’ Spouses in Intramuros before the luncheon, Kris suffered a sunburn that she said puts her on the same level as all the Filipinos who had suffered during the APEC lockdown. “Quits na tayo sa lahat ng nahirapan mag commute these past few days, patas ang mundo, patche patche naman ang balat ko,” said Presidential Sister number 4.
And we are offended of course, and rightfully so, by this superficial and insensitive declaration of equality. I, meanwhile, wonder why Kris was dressed in that terno at all, when her three sisters and the APEC Leaders’ Spouses were dressed for a tour of Intramuros. She looked way too Imeldific for comfort—and I’m pretty sure that’s a description she’d rather not hear.
On the upside: the APEC Summit was a grand revelation of the gross contradiction that is Kris Aquino. It revealed that for all her claims to aging and maturity the past year, to simple living and prayerfulness, she is still the girl who is self-centered half the time, inappropriate the other half, and laughing all the way to the bank while being so.
That right there is our cultural krisis.