Kakie vs Tito Ben: Whose side are you on?. Frankie Pangilinan photo from @frankiepangilinan on Instagram; Ben Tulfo from ABS-CBN News
Culture Spotlight

Mano a Mano: Frankie Pangilinan versus Ben Tulfo

Sharon’s daughter over a Tulfo brother. We break down the differences. By ERIC CABAHUG
ANCX | Jun 17 2020

These days it’s not easy to upstage the Philippine National Police in terms of courting controversy. But leave it to the likes of Ben Tulfo to do just that.

“Hija, @kakiep83, a rapist or a juvenile sex offender’s desire to commit a crime will always be there,” wrote the TV and radio host in a recent tweet. “All they need is an opportunity, when to commit the crime. Sexy ladies, careful with the way you dress up! You are inviting the beast.”

The hija is Frankie Pangilinan, Sharon and Senator Kiko’s daughter, and the Tulfo tweet was in response to her tweet of a Rappler report about an anti-rape reminder posted in the Facebook page of a local police station in Quezon exhorting girls not to wear short clothes to prevent sex crimes. 

The caption on Frankie’s tweet: “STOP TEACHING GIRLS HOW TO DRESS?? TEACH PEOPLE NOT TO RAPE.” Yes, in all caps.

Miguel, Miel, Frankie, KC, Sharon and Kiko. Photo from @reallysharoncuneta on Instagram

The original FB post was deleted even before Rappler came out with its report. Apparently netizens had somehow already gotten wind of it earlier and the police force, or its social media team at least, caved in.

The issue would’ve probably simmered down quietly and not reach national conversation levels had @kakiep83 and @bitagbentulfo not jumped in. That there are people who continue to blame sexual crimes and abuse on its victims tells us this is something the Philippines in 2020 still needs schooling on. Unfortunate, even tragic—which in a way makes this recent Twitter bout necessary. The still-raging debate has made Kakie and Tulfo sort of the poster girl and poster tito for the issue’s opposing sides. The two couldn’t be any more different from each other, and here’s a breakdown of those differences. 

 

GENERATION GAP

At 65, Tulfo is a certified card-carrying senior citizen. Does it somehow explain his rather Jurassic-era view about women and rape? Maybe. Is it an excuse? No. 

Frankie, meanwhile, is not even a millennial (25-40 years old). At 19, she is a Zoomer, or someone in Generation Z, the segment of the current population that’s been weaned on women’s rights and gender equality activism of the last two decades.  

 

MEET THE FAM

Ben Tulfo belongs to the family whose most recent brush with notoriety is the PHP 60-million corruption controversy involving his company, Bitag Media, and the Department of Tourism in 2017 which was then headed by her sister, Wanda Tulfo Teo. His brothers include equally popular TV and radio personalities Mon, Raffy, and Erwin (Ben is the one with the perpetual tinted shades) with Mon being the self-tagged patriarch whose practice of tough love includes calling out his own siblings on their foibles

Tulfo siblings Ben and Erwin along with former Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo face the Senate blue ribbon committee in 2017, regarding the P60-million ad placement by the Department of Tourism on the TV show "Kilos Pronto." Photo by Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Frankie is the eldest of Senator Kiko Pangilinan and Megastar Sharon Cuneta’s three children. She is half-sister to Sharon’s eldest child, KC, with whom she has a close relationship. The family is very vocal about how close they are and how much they love each other, especially the women, often posting emotional messages for and about each other on their social media pages. They also readily stand up for each other against rumor-mongers—even one as prominent and powerful as the sitting president of the Philippines who last year told media, even when nobody asked, that Kiko and Sharon’s marriage was on the rocks.

 

SCHOOL TIES 

Frankie is currently a college freshman at The New School in New York. Tulfo, according to the About Ben Tulfo section in the website of his company, Bitag Media, “went to an executive school abroad.”

 

CLAIM TO FAME

Tulfo’s claim to fame was the 1996 TV show Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo which he hosted together with brother Mon. He is listed as the show’s “architect.” He followed it up with another hit show in 1997, Philippines’ Most Wanted, which was patterned after the US original series. These two shows caught the favor (and loyalty) of local viewers for their tough stance on law breakers and criminals. Isumbong, in particular, became the go-to first/second/third/last resort of those seeking immediate attention and redress for their grievances against all sorts of abusive employers, swindlers, and even gaslighters—even before the term became popular.

Meanwhile, although young Frankie has launched a recording career, she’s still awaiting that elusive hit. While being the child of famous parents have certainly contributed to the public’s interest on her, she is clearly carving her own path, and obviously letting her own voice be heard.

She has over 500,000 combined followers on Instagram and Twitter.

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LIFE GOALS

Frankie is just about to finish her freshman year in college and it seems she has not set any of her plans in stone yet. “I’m 99.99 percent sure that I’m going to do writing,” she said in August last year, just before moving to the US to start her studies. “I’m probably going to minor in Anthropology because that was one of my higher level classes for grades 11 and 12 and I love it so much. I feel like it’s understanding groups of people and it’s like you really get how you can help them.”

As for Tulfo, who has been doing his public service show for more than two decades now, let’s hope the goal is a short course on women’s rights and gender equality, pronto.