Friday, June 14, 2013

The Showbiz/Politics Connection in the Philippines

Being famous is always helpful in launching a political career, going back to the days of Congressman Davy Crockett, so it’s not surprising that actors and other celebrities gain office in many countries (Ronald Reagan leaping first to mind).

But I don’t think any country can come close to the Philippines, where half of the current Senate has significant showbiz/media connections, and a third have been actors or broadcasting personalities.

Eight of the twenty-four senators have been actors or hosts of broadcast shows:

  • Ramon (Bong) Revilla – Movie and TV actor (his father is also both an actor and a former senator).
    Senator Revilla
  • Jose Ejercito, Jr. (aka Jinggoy Estrada) – Movie actor (another whose father was a popular actor, who is also a former president and current mayor of Manila).
  • Pia Cayetano – Her father (a senator) had a TV show called Compañero y Compañera. She took over hosting the show upon his death, and now co-hosts a radio version of the same show with her brother (also a senator). She also has hosted other radio shows.
  • Alan Peter Cayetano – (see above)
  • Vicente (Tito) Sotto – Co-host of the longest-running variety show on Philippine TV. His wife (Helen Gamboa) is an actress and singer.
  • Loren Legarda – Before entering politics, she was a popular TV news presenter.
  • Bam Aquino-- He worked for ABS-CBN Foundation (ABS-CBN is one of the Philippines’ two major TV networks, and a media conglomerate). He also hosted a TV show. His cousin Kris (sister of the president, daughter of the former president) also is a movie actress and hosts TV shows.
  • Lito Lapid – Popular movie actor.
Another four senators have strong connections to the TV/movie industry:
  • Ralph Recto – Married to Vilma Santos, one of the country’s most popular actresses ever (my wife was the world's biggest Vilma Santos fan). Vilma’s a governor these days, but continues to have movie and TV roles.
  • Sergio Osmeña III – His wife is a Lopez, the family that owns ABS-CBN and numerous other media properties.
  • Grace Poe-Llamanzares – Both adoptive parents were extremely popular actors (her father ran for president in 2004). Before election to the senate she chaired the Philippine movie and TV ratings board. Her half-sister is an actor/singer.
  • JV Ejercito – Father was a popular actor and president, numerous other family members are in entertainment (and politics).

It bothers me that I see the politics/media/Hollywood relationship growing, with children of politicians frequently entering the media as a career, among other manifestations. I don't think politics-as-a-branch-of-showbiz has been healthy for the Philippines, and I doubt it will be any more so for the US.

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