Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), Hollywood actor who became the 40th president of the United States, cynically said: “Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.”
Philippine politics is replete with personalities from the entertainment industry, who made us proud as well as despair. Engrossed in what the first Chancellor of the German Empire, Otto Von Bismarck, called the art of the possible, these icons are relentless, driving Nikita Krushchev, first secretary of the Communist party of the Soviet Union, to say: “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.”
Ever since Rogelio de la Rosa became a senator in 1957 and almost a president in 1961, a myriad of showbiz personalities has invaded the world of politics.
An action star and FAMAS Hall of Famer became a mayor in 1969, a senator in 1987, a vice-president in 1992 and finally, a president in 1998. He was convicted for plunder, pardoned, ran and lost in the 2010 presidential derby. And now he wants to be the mayor of Manila. That is the saga of Joseph Ejercito Estrada, or the Erap para sa mahirap of the teeming masses.
Four other movie actors, known for their action flicks, were able to enter the Philippine Senate: Ramon Revilla Sr., his son Bong, Jinggoy Estrada and Lito Lapid.
Two popular basketeers who later entered the movieworld and the television industry also worked in the upper chamber of Philippine Congress — Freddie Webb and Robert Jaworski. Webb became a councilor first in Pasay, then a congressman in Parañaque, before joining the Senate while the Big J’s first foray into public service was the Senate.
Musician/comedian Tito Sotto is now on his third term as senator of the land. He started as a vice-mayor of Quezon City. Broadcasters Noli de Castro and Loren Legarda were No. 1 in their bids for the Senate. De Castro went on to become the second highest official of the country. Legarda failed in her tries for the vice presidency in 2004 and 2010 but may be well on her way to tying up with Sen. Jovito Salonga’s record of being senatorial topnotcher thrice.
However, not all who tried to be a seatmate of the likes of esteemed nationalists Lorenzo Tañada and Senate’s Mr. Clean, Rene Augusto Saguisag were as lucky as the above names. These are comedian/director/producer Augusto Pangan a.k.a Chiquito and singer/actor Victor Wood.
Even in local races, some are not as blessed as Joey Marquez, who became three-term mayor of Parañaque; Herbert Bautista, who is seeking his second term as mayor of Quezon City; Vilma Santos-Recto, who after her stint as three-term mayor of Lipa, is gunning for her third term as governor of Batangas; and ER Ejercito, who after completing his term as Pagsanjan mayor became the governor of Laguna.
Those who did not get the electorates’ nod were the late Panchito, who lost as vice-mayor of Parañaque and Dindo Fernando, who lost as an assemblyman during the Marcos years.
There were also those who became winners and losers, too, in their respective areas such as Imelda Papin in Camarines Sur, Jestoni Alarcon in Rizal, Christopher de Leon in Batangas, Kim Atienza in Manila and Rey Malonzo in Caloocan.
And one unforgettable silver screen idol who threw his hat in the political ring, but met heartbreak he could not transcend was the King of Philippine movies himself, Fernando Poe Jr. His widow, moviedom’s “The Face that Refreshes,” Susan Roces, cried that his beloved was robbed of the presidency not once, but twice.
Here is the list of showbiz/media personalities running in the May 13 elections (taken from the COMELEC website):
1. Batangas — Vilma Santos-Recto, reelectionist governor (LP); Boyet de Leon, presently board member of second district now a candidate for congress (LP)
2. Bulacan — Daniel Fernando, reelectionist vice governor (NUP); Long Mejia for councilor in Calumpit (Independent); Imelda Papin for congressman of San Jose del Monte (Lakas)
3. Cavite — Jolo Revilla for vice governor (Lakas); Lani Mercado Revilla, reelectionist congressman second district (Lakas); Gilbert Remulla for congressman seventh district (NP)
4. Laguna — ER Ejercito, reelectionist governor (UNA); Angelica Jones Alarva, reelectionist board member third district (UNA); Dennis Padilla Baldivia for board member third district (UNA); Dan Fernandez, reelectionist congressman first district (LP); Sol Aragones for congressman third district (UNA)
5. Rizal — Anthony Jess (Jestoni) Alarcon for board member first district (NPC)
6. Leyte — Lucy Torres-Gomez, reelectionist congressman fourth district (LP); Richard Gomez for mayor of Ormoc (LP)
7. Cebu — Annabelle Rama for congressman of Cebu City first district (UNA)
8. Sarangani — Manny Pacquiao, reelectionist congressman (UNA-PCM); Jinkee Pacquiao for vice governor (UNA-PCM)
9. Quezon — Gary Estrada for board member, Metro Manila
1. Quezon City — Herbert Bautista, reelectionist mayor (LP); Gani Oro (DZBB) for congressman fifth district (Aksyon Demokratiko); Alfred Vargas for congressman fifth district (LP); Precious Hipolito Castelo for councilor second district (LP); Roderick Paulate, reelectionist councilor second district (Independent); Anthony Castelo for councilor third district (Independent); Gian Sotto for councilor third district (LP); Dan Alvaro for councilor Galura fifth district (Independent); Aileen Papin for councilor fifth district (UNA); Anjo Yllana for councilor fifth district (UNA); Heber Bartolome for councilor sixth district (Independent); Lala Sotto for councilor sixth district (LP)
2. Parañaque — Joey Marquez for congressman second district (Independent); Alma Moreno Lacsamana, reelectionist councilor first district (LP); Roselle Nava, reelectionist councilor first district (UNA); Jason Webb, reelectionist councilor first district (UNA); Jobelle Salvador for councilor second district (Independent); Ryan Yllana, reelectionist second district (PMP)
3. Manila — Joseph Estrada for mayor (UNA); Isko Moreno, reelectionist vice mayor (UNA); Lou Veloso for vice mayor (LP); Yul Servo Nieto, reelectionist councilor third district (UNA); Jograd de la Torre for councilor fifth district (LP); Robert Ortega, reelectionist councilor fifth district (UNA)
4. Caloocan — Bobby Guanzon for congressman first district (Independent); Rey Malonzo for vice mayor (Indepedent); Tito Varela for vice mayor (LP)
5. Makati — Monsour del Rosario, reelectionist councilor first district (UNA); Tosca Puno Ramos, reelectionist first district (UNA)
6. Mandaluyong — Darius Razon Apacionado for Councilor first district (Independent)
7. Pasig — Yoyong Martires, presently the vice mayor now running for councilor second district (NP)
8. Valenzuela — Shalani Soledad presently a councilor now running for congressman second district (LP)
9. Taguig — Lino Cayetano for Congressman first district (NP)
Whatever the electorate’s appreciation of/objection to these showbiz politicians may be, it is best that we all troop to the polls to avoid what the Greek philosopher, Plato warned: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”