• Philippine society: Inexorably marching to full Kardashian-hood

    Marlen V. Ronquillo

    Marlen V. Ronquillo

    Since last week, no topic of substance and national importance has managed to get traction and public attention. To hell with stock market drops, the killer floods in the South and the traffic nightmares that Metro Manila would have to confront starting April.  Even the most important news of the moment – the prospect of lasting peace in Mindanao and, the possible end to the historic bloodletting in the troubled region – was obscured by the messy news about TV host Vhong Navarro.

    Until today, what remains “trending” has been the sorry saga of Navarro inside a Fort condo.

    No other news could ever come close to the Vhong saga on both readership and viewership- and Internet following. Even inside page news are still lapped up with intensity and enthusiasm. What chance does Bill Gates’ healthy optimism that no country would remain mired in extreme poverty by 2035 have at getting noticed with the black and blue offering of Navarro’s once-boyish persona?

    Not a chance, Bill, you might be on a mission to save the world and you might be the second richest man on the planet.  But no way your mission to save the world could stir the Filipino public’s interest into the direction of your uplifting projection on global poverty and out of le affair Vhong.

    Sorry, Bill, you serious man, we have to tell you the hard truth. What we have now is a Philippine society turning full Kardashian.

    On a superficial level, the Vhong Navarro affair is indeed interesting news stuff .

    Navarro is a host of a popular noontime show and is an ubiquitous presence in the lives of teeny boppers and bored housewives. Noontime shows have vast audiences and stars on these shows have large fan bases. Somewhere out there, there may be dozens of Vhong Navarro Fan Clubs whose members are truly distressed over the fate of their idol.

    More young Filipinos, this is the saddest cut of all, know about Vhong than Ibarra and Elias, or even Apolinario Mabini.

    The others in the story are Cedric Lee, the ex of Vina Morales, and that association meant that Lee used to run with the show biz denizens. The fact that Lee’s life also involved alleged run-ins with banks over major loans and his alleged closeness with the military and police attract public attention. Vhong, it turns out, has to share central casting with Cedric Lee.

    The young women who cried rape, a 22-year-old and a self-proclaimed “model and stylist” looked better than J Lo and Kristen Stewart in her Facebook profile. Throw in a gorgeous-looking girl just three years out of her teens into the mix and you really have an interesting, made-for-tabloid and made-for-TV story.

    And it is not just an interesting story.  It is easy to report.  She accused and Vhong accused.  Throw in the elements of blackmail, greed and lust, and whatever kind of relationship the young women who cried rape has with Lee, then you are guaranteed a real-life drama perfectly designed for TV and tabloid news.  And for the Internet denizens.

    Did Cedric Lee really have a confrontation with former Senator Miguel Zubiri, also an ex of Vina? That was a more serious question than what happened to the lives wasted by Agaton.

    Philippine society is indeed on its inexorable march to full Kardashian-hood. Let us look at the pitiful descent of some the recent earth-shaking issues into clichés and irrelevance.

    After all the protests, the draconian budgetary reforms and shifts, and the interminable bloviation of do-gooders on TV, what remains of the pork barrel scam, the single, most explosive issues to ever land on Philippine media in contemporary times, are the hackneyed and shopworn verbal detritus.

    We remember “Boy Pickup” or “Tanda” or “Sexy” or “ Pogi.” The body of the verbal detritus is easy to remember and the product of name-calling which we are all very fond of. The major reforms in the budgetary process, the game-changing things that the expose of the scam contributed to the nation, is hardly mentioned and barely remembered.

    If not the name-calling and the tags, the other issues remembered about the scam was the deepening of the personal enmity between Senators Enrile and Defensor-Santiago.
    Who remembers things that are not flighty and superficial? What would happen to the 5th and 6th class towns that used to rely on pork barrel for their yearly capex—a sure tragedy for them—is not even discussed because discussing it would lay bare the downside of scrapping the pork barrel. And that is a real and serious issue.

    On Yolanda, what remains inside the cerebrum of most Filipinos are the “Mar vs. Alfred” verbal tussles and the recent accusation that the bunkhouses for the victims had been built by overpricing racketeers. The real issue—on how to build real and functional and decent communities, lives from the ruins—has been overtaken by the sideshows of tangential and made-for-media issues.

    Question: Are media abetting the inexorable march to full Kardashian-hood? With the exception of the ever-serious ManilaTimes, your guess is as good as mine.


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    1. words I associate with the Philippines – politics, corruption, showbiz, disasters, rich getting richer, poor getting poorer

    2. dennis yamsuan on

      How i wish more people read the Manila Times instead of just the comments on facebook.

      There has to be a stop to this madness march.

    3. The glaring reality that stares us in the face is that all the fuss we see daily in media are due to only two considerations “rating, rating, rating and greed, greed, greed”. Unfortunately this state of things is abetted by organizations, some even with church sanction, which regularly award recognition to the “best” media outfit for achievements in newscasting where viewership is likely a big element in its determination and what is the most viewed but the most sordid happenings like the vhong affair. I am glad I still have the Manila Times to read which gives me balanced and oftentimes fearless reporting.

    4. The people have been rendered numb and zombie-like by the very same societal elements of power and greed and control that have been recited that play into the very hands of the Grand Marion. Didn’t just start yesterday but a long time ago when tinsel town became the altar of worship. Call in Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman and Adarna, or Nardong Putik but not Juan Tamad.