MANILA, Philippines – With politicians scampering to get the endorsements of many celebrities, one is compelled to ask, how effective is the entertainment industry really in advancing the political careers of individuals especially during election time?
Dolphy is endorsing presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar. Aside from Kris Aquino and some of her celebrity friends, Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez are also supporting the presidential bid of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. Lily Monteverde, also known as Mother Lily, the matriarch of the film empire Regal Entertainment, has shifted allegiance to Manuel “Mar” Roxas II from Loren Legarda in the vice presidential race.
Monteverde is one of the most powerful persons in the movie business where she can command hordes of movie stars to rally behind a candidate.
Legarda and Villar have had guest stints on popular noontime show “Wowowee,” a program that reaches not just local viewers but overseas fans as well. These avid “Wowowee” followers are mostly voters.
“[Getting celebrity endorsers] is very effective. Anyone who undermines the power of the entertainment industry in supporting the election campaign of politicians must be out of his mind,” exclaimed Ray Junia, a PR practitioner who handles publicity accounts of a number of politicians and government technocrats.
“Tabloids are identified with the movies and tabloids and movies are mass-based. So, once a political candidate is written on these outlets, the voters who belong to the most number of electorate easily remember these candidates,” explained Junia.
For publicist Oliver Oliveros of Stages, the entertainment industry is a potent force in the political life of the Philippines.
“There are many politicians who depend on the popularity of the entertainment pages. Once they are written on the movie pages, a lot of people read about them and they get much mileage from them. It can make them win,” added Oliveros.
Seasoned entertainment and culture writer Bibsy Carballo also believes that the industry “is very helpful in creating a politician.”
Thus, it is no wonder that getting celebrities to endorse the candidacies of politicians has been a common practice during elections.
For instance, in the early years of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s emergence to politics, she was guesting in a lot of TV shows on primetime, especially in sitcoms (e.g. ABS-CBN’s “Abangan Ang Susunod Na Kabanata”).
When Margarito Teves, now a member of the Arroyo cabinet, was still a congressman from Negros Oriental and was planning to launch a senatorial bid in the 90s, he commissioned a PR lady to connect him to the entertainment press.
His publicist got to muster a number of entertainment media and he was eventually all over the pages of entertainment tabloids and show biz stories in broadsheets and magazines after he sat down with them.
One of the movie columnists even billed him Gary T. to create a name recall after Gary V. of Gary Valenciano.
During the 2004 presidential elections, Mother Lily gathered all her movie press and hosted a dinner for Legarda.
According to Junia, politicians who seek the help of the entertainment media get 100% assurance of winning an election. “Tabloids help especially the national candidates like presidents, vice presidents and senators.”
On local positions, however, national media aren’t that helpful, Junia noted.
Like a carnival
Despite the prevalence of this practice, many are also against it.
Entertainment analyst and critic Noel Mallonga, for one, opposed the views of many PROs and publicists on the value of entertainment media in politics.
“Our election is purely nonsensical because we allow it that way. Political campaigns are mostly carnival and circus. Entertainment personalities can’t deliver votes. They are just there to be laughed at and to pull in people in political rallies,” Mallonga commented.
“It’s sad that politicians depend on entertainers because in the final analysis, performances of politicians are the most important things in elections,” he added.
Entertainment press writing and selling politicians during elections are pathetic, Mallonga said.
“That is why our government is like carnival,” he quipped. -by Boy Villasanta, abs-cbnNEWS.com