Oprah? More like Luisita!

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The more I hear Kris Aquino talking about herself, the more I think that she’s lost it, all sense of reason, any semblance at all of self-awareness, any notion of self-reflexivity.

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Certainly one too many people have said that if we don’t like Kris, stop watching her already! And many others fall in love with her, are enamored of her self-declared notions of openness and honesty and sincerity. But one must know—must understand—that popular culture is such that changing channels to where Kris does not exist, i.e., HBO (haha!) will not make her disappear. Neither will turning off the TV altogether mean not being bombarded by images of her (billboards, magazine covers and ads), or not hearing her voice (radio), or not knowing at all the latest piece of dirty laundry she’s washing, or the utter and absolute atrocious display of wealth.

A career out of mass culture

This is a woman who has made a career out of reconfiguring local mass culture into her very own playground, which makes her the poster child for every product that wants to raise the masses’ needs, every film producer that wants to make money, a network like ABS-CBN wanting to win the ratings game.

This is not about you ignoring Kris. So close to the 2016 elections, realize that her function is now layered with being the spokesperson and pawn of her political loyalties, which just makes her even more dangerous. Realize that throughout PNoy’s campaign she was the distraction that allowed her more mileage on local TV, the kind that the masses watch as she romanticized her relationship with her brother, whose person we did not know about one bit. Realize that there was a stretch of time when Kris had but a tiny TV show in the mornings on ABS-CBN, and she was barely in the news, and things were fine and dandy and happy.

Realize that now she’s back and with a vengeance, there is no blocking Kris-related news on your Facebook or Twitter feeds, you can be sure that she will creep up on you and win an election. Senator? Vice President? President? Take your pick. The more you ignore her, the less criticism she gets, the bigger the possibility that she will fix her eye on a ball and easily score a hole-in-one.

Only the delusional would not be scared.

The Oprah delusion

In that less famous but equally embarrassing interview with Jamie Foxx for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie, Kris was her shameless self, comparing Jamie to Oprah Winfrey’s boyfriend Steadman, saying that Jamie can sing and is more handsome. It was clear that Jamie was uncertain about what was going on, especially since this part of the conversation was prefaced with Kris claiming that she is called the Oprah of the Philippines.

Oprah would not be caught dead doing an interview like that. Moreover, Oprah “wants to do good in the world” and “cares about everybody in the world,” as Jamie described her. Kris can only be far far from being anything near that.

I can’t even begin. Oprah has made a career out of doing intelligent interviews, ones that are not merely well-researched, but more importantly are well-thought-out and grounded in the realities of nation. This is a woman whose generosity is premised on having come from a life of difficulty and abuse, from having had nothing and knowing how voiceless one can be. This is an icon of a woman who has created a cultural empire around herself (TV show and network, magazine, website, merchandise), but who does so with sensitivity and propriety, refusing to sell fakery and cosmetic surgery. She engages with politics thoughtfully, and refuses to make a huge thing out of her own charity.

For Kris to even imagine, and then articulate, that she is Oprah in any way was utterly delusional. That she even dared say it in such a global forum as this interview with Foxx was a measure of how she seems to have come to the point of believing her own propaganda and press releases, she has now internalized all of it to be true, so she can say it all without batting an eyelash.

That we shrug our shoulders and say, well, that’s Kris! Or that we think all it takes to stop her is to stop talking about her, she will go away, is telling of why it has come to this. It has come to this because too few of us have raised our fists and called her out on what she says and does, thinking the consumerism she stands for irrelevant and immaterial, the carelessness with words harmless and amusing.

At this point when she is on TV every day, in the mornings talking about love and travel and food, and in the evenings daring to talk about politics, it is utterly irresponsible to even think that we can get away with ignoring her. It is also ultimately dangerous.

Luisita’s spokesperson

Just in case y’all haven’t noticed, in Kris’s new commercial for Lucky Me, she uses her mother and her hacendera roots as context. That is, she shamelessly allows this product to use her childhood memories in the “farm” in Tarlac to sell instant noodles with her son Bimby. There is a mansion brightly lit by the afternoon sun, Kris dropping an egg into the steaming hot soup, Bimby smiling brightly and excitedly. They begin eating when a little girl, daughter or apo of the cook or something, peeks in from the kitchen. Bimby asks the girl if she’d like some and the advertisement ends happily with all three sharing a meryenda of Lucky Me.

In reality, this “farm in Tarlac” is Hacienda Luisita, yes?  That one that Kris’s Cojuangco family owns, that one that has blood on its hands.

Say, the seven protesters killed in the Hacienda Luisita Massacre of 2004, when military and police turned violent on a protest for better wages and farmers’ right to their land.

Say, the countless farmers and their families who have been displaced from the land they’ve tilled all their lives, because Kris’ Cojuangco family has remained as Hacienda Luisita’s feudal lords no matter Supreme Court rulings that order them to redistribute land. Say, the continued violence in Hacienda Luisita, the kind that has put farmer communities through harassment and abuse, that have seen too many of them suffering the death of their community leaders and family members. And I speak of the year 2014.

This same year that Kris had the gall to use Hacienda Luisita as the context of one of her TV advertisements, like it is without the blood of politics and feudalism.

But Kris flips her hair at all this, calling it lucky that her effigy was burned at a recent rally to protest the Cojuangco’s continued hold over Hacienda Luisita land—land that should’ve been distributed to farmers long ago. She denies she’s even part of the Central Azucarera De Tarlac, saying that she has given her space up to her sister Viel, because she just has no time for it. She laughed the effigy burning off, joking that it only means she’s as important as Obama, whose effigy was also burned.

This is no Oprah. This is a monster we’ve all created, Philippines-style. Watch her become President. *nakakatakot*

Better yet: let’s keep her from becoming so.

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20 Comments

  1. Tired of Kris on

    Great article exactly my thought. I had to unsubscribe to abs cbn on facebook because it turned like into ‘twitter’ of Kris which sensationalize every bit of what she say and do. Her lovelife became our national issues. Her ‘pagbubuhat ng bangko’ on a desperate measure to find a boyfriend became a norm. I am tired of her pag-iinarte such as she will stop because of her kids and she will never ever date again blahblah… Huwag magsalita ng tapos! And oh that cringeworthy Spiderman interview… Nobody told her that the world doesn’t evolve around her? How nice it would be without Kris on tv. Peace and quiet-more sense. Please don’t ever run into politics nor support Binay! Do the Philippines a favor.

  2. If The Common Tao finally wakes up and grows some common sense, paano mo ipi-People Power ang isang Aquino?

  3. Great column Katrina. You’re the best columnist on the intersection of culture and politics! Keep it up.- Bobi

  4. E. Subijano on

    Kris Aquino is indestructible !!! Why ??? Because she has a guaranteed prime-time slot in ABS-CBN. This was a pre-condition imposed by Cory and the Cojuangco-Aquinos when the said TV network was turned over from government ownership into the private hands of the Lopezes. Such a process is not called privatization but rather bastardization !!! So, whether one likes Kris or not, one just have to bear with her because she will always be on prime-time TV. Being a Cojuangco-Aquino has its
    perks! The only thing good about Kris is that she hasn’t had to broadcast to the world that she is infected with STD. GUMAGAMIT NA SIYA NG SUPOT !!!

  5. I will cut my right thumb if I commit the error of voting for a cojuangco much more a vulgar Kris Aquino.

  6. Shella Faytaren on

    Thank you for your last two features on Kris… Some people, unfortunately, equate her verbal diarrhea and extreme tactlessness with refreshing candor and “pagiging totoo” and view the parading of her wealth and luxuries and touting her multi-million taxes as aspirational in content….

  7. yen makabenta on

    wonderful and insightful column, katrina.
    none of us watch kris on tv at home.
    we would be embarrassed if caught.

  8. You are so right “nakakatakot”. I asked a cab driver recently what he thinks of Kris’ chances to become president and he replied “hwag muna Hindi pa nga sya nag senador pa”. Heaven help us I prayed silently, so this must be the thinking of the “masa” that this curse stands a real chance to be at the very least a “senador” and thereafter everything else. We are so outnumbered by our pitiful and very maneuverable masa so that we must do our utmost to counter this before this annoying sister has any chance to perpetuate her ilk of delusional and mental retardates on our poor country.

  9. i can’t even begin to imagine the horror, let alone watch it happen.

    if it does? they i’ll leave the Filipinos to suffer for it, without another word. if they allow this stupidity to happen, then i would say the damned country deserves it.

    i would put that on a level worse than the Japanese invasion of World War 2. her brother’s reign already comes very close.

  10. I struggle to watch any filipino programmes. I find them completely useless. I really like politics but here political programmes are useless. I want someone who will stop a politician in his tracks when he starts babbleing about nothing, here they let them talk & talk & talk even if its garbage. Make their questions uncofortable. Be nice to them & tell them how great they are & what will you end up with, very simple, a country like the philippines.

  11. ok na sana ang mga sinasabi mo pero bakit idinikit mo pa ang issue ng Hacienda Luisista. Ang tinatalakay mo ay ang persona ni Kris. Hindi nababagay na ungkatin mo ang isang malalim na kaganapan at pababawin ang kahulugan nito. These are two different matters, one is trash and the other is about truth and life/reality.

  12. The only way to put a stop to this is DO NOT PATRONIZE all the products that she endorses. But our problem is the masses, they are the target of these commercials. That’s where the majority of her leagally earned money comes from. Commercials!!!! Like whenever I go with my wife in the supermarket and a promo girl of Ariel soap comes over to me, I always tell her “this is not about you or your product, you are very nice and your product is good”, but the only thing the reason why your product costs so high is because your company pay so much to your endorsers who does’nt even know how to laundry their dirty linen. I HATE YOUR ENDORSERS. The aquino sisters Kris, Boy and Balsy. tell this to your boses. I’d rather buy Champion being endorsed by Susan and Agoncillo, hehehehe.

  13. A good and incisive article about Kris. May God help this country from possible scourge if ever those irresponsible voters elect her to any national position, be it Vice President or much more president! Let her reign in Tarlac if they like her.

  14. The only way to put a stom to this B===h is DO NOT PATRONIZE all the products that she endorses. But our problem is the masses, they are the target of these commercials. That’s where the majority of her leagally earned money comes from. Commercials!!!! Like whenever I go with my wife in the supermarket and a promo girl of Ariel soap comes over to me, I always tell her “this is not about you or your product, you are very nice and your product is good”, but the only thing the reason why your product costs so high is because your company pay so much to your endorsers who does’nt even know how to laundry their dirty linen. I HATE YOUR ENDORSERS. The aquino sisters Kris, Boy and Balsy. tell this to your boses. I’d rather buy Champion being endorsed by Susan and Agoncillo, hehehehe.

  15. It would be a big insult to the intelligence of many Filipinos if they even consider her.

  16. chris villanueva on

    You nailed it and what you’ve said are all true.I hope Filipino masses will realized how the Aquinos and the prodigal daughter fooled us all for a long time. She is so annoying and I stopped watching ABS CBN since 1996, aside from being boring and recycled most of their shows are shallow are ampaw and mababaw.

  17. This is one of a kind- master piece Katrina, a reality check about Kris and the hacienda luisita story. You are brave and full of wisdom. Only few credible journalist/writers nowadays are sensitive to care for others. May God bless you more for your good social justice work.