MANILA, Philippines – Flouncing onstage in white lingerie printed with a map of the Philippines on the front, Korona “Kuring” Sanchez is an eager newlywed waiting for her politician husband Mar-ramdamin to take a patriotic tour of her body.
But there’s one snag. Mar-ramdamin is constantly on the phone with Nyoy-nyoy Anino talking campaign strategy for the May 2010 elections.
Korona shrugs off the derailed wedding night, and instead breaks into song about her husband’s finer qualities.
With a wink to the audience after she campaigns shamelessly, Korona says she is simply making good on a promise she made to her husband: “We will be together, for voter or for worse.”
Korona Sanchez is one among many colorful impersonations in Jon Santos’s popular political comedy sketch “Election is Nearing… For Voter or For Worse.”
The show started in September last year and is set to end on May 13 this year.
The show, which marks Santos’s 25th year in show business, is reputedly Santos’s attempt to enlighten voters through incisive character sketches.
In his performance, Santos transforms into Gluring Makatagal, an embattled “presidentita” who wants to cling to power; Exssyerap Espada, a barong-clad mustachioed man with a poor grasp of English; and Dioning Pakyaw who wants to be his boxer son’s “First Lady.”
The rest of the repertoire—based on politicians and other political figures—are familiar names: Lorenz Leganda, Nolee De Castor Oil, Meeryam Defensive, Manny Bibilyar, Jojobama Binay, Senator Chizcurls, Jhambeelaya and Namamayani Fernandow.
Santos also resurrects his long-running characters like Fidel V. Hilamos, who has a penchant for giving a thumbs-up; “Ate Vee”, an actress-turned-politician ready for her close-up; and Mike Volare, a religious preacher who wants to appoint Catholic saints into his future presidential Cabinet.
Politics as a circus
Santos originally meant to stage a 4-night performance spoofing the much-publicized wedding of Roxas and Sanchez, along with other political and showbiz headlines in the second half of 2009.
The show’s popularity allowed it to run for 20 more evenings. The cast capped its 25th night last March 27.
“The people seem to be happy, to enjoy laughing at the headlines and taking some relief,” Santos told Newsbreak.
National issues are not to be taken lightly, but the comedy show offers audiences an entertaining critique of Philippine politics—exposing it for what it often is: a never-ending circus.
“They say it’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes.’ [Only this time] the comedians point out that the emperor is not wearing anything. It’s like a mirror, a sort of reflection [on society],” Santos explains.
As a bonus to his fans, Santos launched a book version of the show last March 26 called “I Vote This Book: The Cornicles of Jon Santos” under Anvil Publishing.
Priced at P300, the book contains slightly edited scripts from the comedy show, along with helpful visual aids like pictures and spoof resumes of presidential and vice presidential candidates running this year.
In his spoof biodata, for instance, Syerap lists “English and Slurrish” as his spoken languages. Manny Bibilyar, meanwhile, lists his motto as “A house is not a home if it is not a Camella home.”
For Santos, each character’s exaggerated quirks and flaws reflect the country’s general imperfection.
“There is no perfect candidate. There is no perfect person. Our country is a work in progress,” he says.
Just as he puts his characters in the harsh glare of the spotlight, Santos advises audiences at many of his shows to scrutinize candidates well.
“They say our tastes and our quirks created the Dyunings and our preferences created the Kurings. What choice did we make that we created Glurings and Syeraps?” he asked theater-goers at his March 26 show.
“Anyone who is willing to turn a blind eye from an anomaly, [is] enabling an anomalous partnership,” he said. “I hope we vote wisely.”
And if schooling potential voters on picking the right leaders requires Santos to don over-coiffed wigs, a straitjacket, or giant fake moles and itchy spandex; then that’s what he’ll do 75 minutes each night until the May elections.
“I think it’s a big responsibility,” Santos says. And he’s taking it one satirical show (and book) at a time. (Newsbreak)
Catch Jon Santos’s “For Voter or For Worse” at 8:30 p.m. on April 7, 14, 16, 17, 21, 28 and May 13 at the Rockwell Cinema 2 in Makati and Teatrino in Green Hills, San Juan. Avail of tickets by calling 898-1440 or 898 1441.