The shining stars in Grace Poe and Digong Duterte

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GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

The tawdry and exhilarating world of show business is reaching its most dramatic arch in which theatrics are put to good use by the candidates in their strategies, and muckraking acts against one another; others who are sure of their victory stay cool at the ringside.

Not much action happening in the kingdom of the unchallenged Mayor Herbert Bautista of Quezon City who’s staying till his last term, but this could mean a sure win for his younger brother former child actor Hero who is running for councilor and for re-electionist Tates Gana for the same post, the mayor’s former beloved if you still don’t know with whom he has an award-winning actor/ son Harvey, now a mainstay in Going Bulilit.

Alfred Vargas of Supremo fame is sure to act his way up for an extended congressional seat; while his colleague at Batasan Dan Fernandez smelling so fresh from his remarkable role in Honor Thy Father underscored by his victorious exposes of the long-standing scam that had defined the annual MMFF (Metro Manila Film Festival) is another shoo-in for a mayoralty post in Laguna.

Mayor Rudy Duterte and Sen. Grace Poe

Mayor Rudy Duterte and Sen. Grace Poe

List of desperate stars in the running are one too many. Stretch the entitlement of a crown of stars to the head of Sen. Grace Poe being the daughter of the departed Action King Fernando Poe, Jr.; admit it she is a foundling alright, but she has become a star in her own right if we go by her groundbreaking “starry” performance as former chair of the embattled MTRCB.


Oddly enough, while Grace Poe’s campaign strategy or her branding is nowhere near showbiz (if you think she is neither showbiz personified) her strongest political opponent Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte smells and drips showbiz through and through thriving on controversies and scandals one after another—believing perhaps in the twisted dictum of showbiz “publicity good or bad, is publicity.”

Duterte’s promise of immediate bread and circus though lip service upon assumption to office placates those among us numbed down and ripped-off by empty words, deceptions, and wholesale corruption in government offices from Barangay to Malacañang staring in the eyes that a promise of “six months” at least to clean up the dirty stables of the government reeking of drugs, crime, and corruption is one mind-altering mantra to make you walk up like a zombie to the country’s pooling places never mind if one’s vote gets counted or not.

I like to think that some middle-class including the apprehensive rich who are not exactly averse to throwing cuss words at the drop of a hat find in Duterte’s mouth a fitting orifice upon which to spit their long contained bile out against an insensitive, abusive government. Shrinks have a word for this: “identification.” Even the original “Bad Boy” of local showbiz Robin Padilla has broken bread with Digong holding up the candidate’s hand in all his sorties.

Those who feigned familiarity with Lee Kwan Yew’s “benevolent” autocracy think the better yet for Duterte to do a Singapore on our own native soil. Leftists have a label for this: adventurism. But will America tolerate an “adventurer” to make a laughing stock, or a mockery out of her patented brand of democracy that she has to this day so fiercely defended from avenging fundamentalists, terrorists, and other invisible nemesis of democracy?

Conspiracy theorists however wild portend: “Duterte is sure winner, but he won’t survive; assassins from within ( power grabbers from left, right, and center) and without (fanatical watchdogs of American democracy) or as cohorts would rear their ugly heads to pave the way for Bongbong Marcos to take over as the dark horse president even to the other presidentiables who are themselves impeachable, sickly, and slammer bound.

That’s throwing ourselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. To Duterte’s bashers he is the bitter pill most difficult to swallow; to others who “could not give a damn” to borrow Clark Gable’s classic line, he is one comic character in carnivalesque charade of his own making that need not be taken seriously. But what if he comes out unscathed after all barbs are thrown in his direction, and instead makes himself in the vocabulary of management clichés “the right person at the right time”? Shall we toast or mourn to that?

In the meantime, the “star” in Grace Poe’s pro-women and anti-contractualization propositions plods vis-à-vis Duterte’s promise of fast tracking nebulous social reforms brought to you on a platter of instant gratification? Duterte’s avid following might do well to reprise the late Kuya Germs’ favorite Broadway song, “Send In The Clowns” as their winning hymn the way the pro-Ninoys have appropriated ad nauseam color yellow to the tune of “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree.”

For the daughter of the late King of Action, “Amazing Grace” would be “pitch-perfect” a theme song if and when her beginner’s luck so-called having been No. 1 in the last senatorial bid would perhaps rub off her first shot at becoming the third lady president that this beleaguered country will ever have? Spare her of the bad luck that comes in threes.

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Mikee Romero

Mikee Romero

Mikee Romero springs eternal

They never came back to make good their promises. This refers to most if not all, whether a sympathetic Samaritan from the outside looking in or a politician out to gather more votes, who have merely paid lip service to help resuscitate the mainstream movie industry that has seen better days and now gasping for a few more breaths toward the finish line.

Thus, when Mikee Romero (Forbes Asia’s Philippine’s Top 50 Richest in 2013) expresses the same intention to lift up in the main the practitioners of the moribund industry from the quagmire that they find themselves at present, he was met with some sort of cynicism from the same jaded sector including this writer who thinks he is nothing short of an impossible dreamer.

Mikee introduces himself as the step-son of the iconic movie actor Eddie Garcia since 1986. Having bumped a few times into his mom with Eddie in showbiz I took him back, saying “Ah ‘yung maganda?” in good humor he acknowledges belying his disarming chinito appeal. The stepdad had tagged him along to the enigmatic world of show business; and he had embraced it like his own with certain compassion.

In college the six-footer was one of De La Salle’s famous varsity players, while modeling a lot on the side in his words for couture designers Inno Sotto, Randy Ortiz, Arturo Go and the like.

A holder of two doctorate degrees in Business Administration and Political Economics with high distinctions from good schools, Mikee, now 42, who swears to make his first billion dollars by the time he turns 50, would like us to believe he is a conscientious corporate animal with a heart of gold for the marginalized, which explains his present advocacy for the movie sector.

Awarded “Godfather of Sports” by the Sportswriters Assoc. of the Phil., his Global Port Batang Pier has helped carve emerging cager Terence Romeo on the PBA sports niche. The reclaimed North Harbor Center Port Terminal now defines the billion-peso empire of the Romeros making sea travel convenient for more than three million annual passengers, and lowered the cost as well of plane fares through Air Asia which he partly owns benefitting some seven million passengers.

In hindsight, referring mostly to those who work freelance all their lives in front of and behind the camera without security of tenure upon reaching retirement age, Mikee unabashedly offers blueprint of “light at the end of the tunnel” not necessarily delivered with bravura like what most of his predecessors did in the past, but who never cared to come back.

Mikee zeroes in on his proposal to allot at least P10 billion a year out of which fork P1 to P2 billion into indie filmmaking ventures to make it potentially marketable both in the domestic and international fronts. Better said than done, but one is tempted to listen up to the words of the world class fund management expert who walks his talk.

Whether he makes it as the 1st nominee of the “1-Pacman” (One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals) Party List Representative in Congress or not, Mikee Romero pledges to make good his promise to the movie industry considering his wherewithal as shown in his alignment with social development advocacy groups that had built and distributed several thousand housing units to our indigenous and marginalized sector throughout the country including thousands of jobs created for the unemployed. One hopes Mikee’s commitment at hand springs eternal.

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