Campaigning, showbiz-style

By Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2013 11:29 PM | Updated as of Feb 16 2013 07:31 AM

Fifth of a Series

MANILA - In a country of 52 million voters and roughly 1,600 towns and cities, campaign experts believe being seen on TV or heard on radio is the most efficient way to campaign for the Senate.

That’s why even before the Halalan 2013 campaign period officially opened, some senatorial aspirants were already all over television. They were not necessarily giving news interviews but sometimes hosting
entertainment programs, judging competitions on game shows, telling their life story, even doing last season’s dance craze.

Former Puerto Princesa mayor Edward Hagedorn adorns his campaign with beauty queens. Photo by Ron Dorendo for

Team PNoy senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros is on her second attempt at a Senate seat, after serving in the House as representative of Akbayan party-list group.

Still, the latest Pulse Asia survey shows only 7 out of 10 people know she’s running again. Hontiveros admits her awareness ratings need aboost that can be given by these popular, widely-viewed entertainmentprograms.

“Kung maimbita ako sa mga ganyan na shows na binanggit mo, tatanggapinko talaga ng masaya. Ang importante sa akin, through whatever mediumna accessible naman sa akin na kaya ko naman, I just want to put mymessage across na eto ako, gusto ko magsilbi so sana bigyan niyo akong chance ulit,” she says.

The 2010 elections was a heartbreaking loss for Hontiveros, who wasedged out of the last Senate seat by teammate, TG Guingona. ButHontiveros says it wasn’t enough to discourage her.

“I felt happy na I almost made it in 2010. And why will I try again?Para ipagpatuloy pa rin yung mga laban na sinimulan noon, yung mgalaban sa korupsyon, laban sa kababaihan, laban sa mga basic services
lalo na yung kalusugan,” she says.

Montano who?

Awareness – or lack of it – is also the problem of independent senatorial candidate Ramon Montano. Few remember him as the funny but no-nonsense chief of the combined Constabulary and police force in the
late 1980s.

But Montano says he’s not planning to pay his way into any TV show or produce any TV ad since he can’t afford it.

“May nagbo-volunteer na gumawa ng TV ad pero packaging me the wrong way. It's in the packaging, eh ako the product. You should package me as I am – just a soldier who wants to serve again in the Senate,” he says.

“The technique here is really, gapangin mo na lang yung mga mayors. No rally, no nothing except you tell them na, just let people know that I'm running. And I think we are succeeding,” Montano adds.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano attends a mass wedding on Valentine's Day. Photo by Junny Roy for

Bro. Eddie: 12th disciple?

Bangon Pilipinas candidate Eddie Villanueva also lost an election, not once but twice, when he ran for president in 2004 and 2010.

But even though he owns a television station, there won’t be any song-and-dance routines for this leader of born-again Christians. Villanueva says he’d rather be scientific than showbiz.

“Probably...talagang wala kaming scientific machinery kasi volunteers,” he says of what went wrong in his two presidential campaigns.

“Sa ngayon meron kaming, may mga nag-volunteer sa amin political advisors na nagbibigay sa amin ng scientific and systematic program on campaigning. With overwhelming volunteers, palagay ko malaki ang
tsansa. Una, iba yung presidency, one on one yun eh. Ito 12. Siguro madaling maisingit si Bro. Eddie sa 12. Ika nga sa Bible, 12 disciples,” Villanueva adds.

JC delos Reyes: It's the message

Another unsuccessful presidential aspirant is JC delos Reyes, one of three senatorial candidates of Ang Kapatiran Party.

But even though only 2 out of 10 people know he’s running, according to the latest Pulse Asia survey, Delos Reyes swears there won’t be any showbiz-style TV appearances for him as well.

“Gimmick, walang saysay, walang lalim, walang mensahe, walang plataporma. And we will not do that. We have to send a clear message na kakaiba at hindi katulad ng mga ginagawa nila. Ang showbiz at politics sa Pilipinas ay halos pareho lang. Ang role namin, ihiwalay yan at idiin yung pangangailangan ng prinsipyo at plataporma sa pulitika,” he adds.

But for as long as campaigning for the Senate runs in the hundreds of millions of pesos, for as long as reaching every town and city proves next to impossible, and for as long as politicians and voters continue
to equate politics with entertainment, campaigning show business style is here to stay.