Politics is Just A Stepping Stone to My Showbiz Career

Hi, my name is Patmei and I am addicted to entertainment news.  And apparently I am not alone.

Last weekend, over dinner with some of my closest friends from high school, I learned that we have more entertainment gossip websites bookmarked in our personal computers than any other, uh, so-called useful (by our parents’ standards, at least) websites on the World Wide Web.

Even the online news websites of CNN.com and Time.com are bookmarked primarily for the entertainment news and their headlines only as an afterthought. “Oh, there was bombing in Syria…let’s see what Angelina wore when she was asked about the refugees and if Brad was with her….”

We keep tab on local news, too, so we go over the Inquirer and Star headlines as we scroll and click to the columns of Dolly Anne Carvajal and Ricky Lo.

Being the professional, intelligent, empowered, and successful women that we are, we naturally kept this secret addiction from others for a long, long time. Until last weekend, that is.

Entertainment celebrities are more fascinating than our politicians

Entertainment celebrities are more fascinating than our politicians

We had the evening local news on in the background while munching on our appetizers. We practically ignored all the political news, but we all got involved in an animated discussion with the television set when the entertainment stories came up.

And then someone asked: “How come we know so much about these things?” These things being entertainment gossip – be it local showbiz or Hollywood.  Then it was finally revealed.  We have bookmarked all the major entertainment gossip sites out there and monitor them the way stockbrokers monitor the index prices of publicly traded stocks.

It is my theory that our evening news have a lot of commercial breaks only because of the entertainment news portion.  That is why we cannot anymore tell if we are watching TV Patrol or The Buzz.  Advertisers want to reach their market and their market only wants entertainment news.

Our legislators would spend many hours investigating showbiz controversies like the Metro Manila Film Festival and celebrities like Hayden Kho but they stay away from agrarian reform issues or the murder of indigenous peoples because their voters watch only showbiz news.

And who can blame us? Politics in this country has become so boring that if it were a television series, it has long been cancelled due to very poor ratings.

Why do we get more excited talking about Pilipinas Got Talent auditions than Philippine elections?  Aside from the obvious entertainment value, Pilipinas Got Talent auditions offer more fascinating personalities than Philippine electoral candidates.  Although we see previous seasons’ rejects auditioning again, unlike Philippine politicians, talent show contestants come back better and appear to have more potential.

The intellectual and cultural snobs would admonish lowly pedestrians like us who indulge in showbiz chismis (gossip) by pointing out that the only thing that matters are the great movements and events that shape our destinies, avoiding the personal and the purely anecdotal drivel of entertainment gossip.

In other places, perhaps, but in the Philippines, great movements and events only happen in entertainment.  And even if these do not directly impact our individual and collective destinies as Filipinos, they at least provide temporary relief from our awful politicians who cannot even deliver a lie using correct sentence construction.

I was born in 1970, practically a martial law baby. My generation grew up with military checkpoints, curfews, and killings as natural daily fact of life. We knew that the State controlled the Media so we watched and read only good things about the New Society. The Marcoses were our own version of the royal family. Sure, people criticized the ostentatious lifestyle of the Marcoses but they were at least feared and respected. Our country was the Pearl of the Orient Seas. Filipinos were called the pride of Asia (not “maids and whores” of Asia and the rest of the world).

I came of age amidst Yellow Fridays and Welgang Bayans.  I proudly marched into adulthood knowing I belonged to the people who brought the world “People Power” and Asia’s first woman president. And then it went downhill from there.

When President Joseph “Erap” Estrada asked me in 1998, what my vision was for my political career, this was my reply: “Mr. President, politics is just a stepping stone towards my showbiz career.” He laughed and said: “It’s the first time I heard someone say that. Most movie stars eventually want to go into politics. But you are doing it in reverse.” 

Yes, I was hoping my stint in the Erap administration would have opened doors for me in showbiz hosting a lifestyle show on television, perhaps. I wanted to get more power and wealth through product endorsements rather than through plunder of public funds.

Have you ever wondered why Filipinos are best known by the rest of the world mainly in the field of performing  arts? Sure, we are also known in boxing but even the world’s best boxer dabbles in entertainment, too. I have yet to see an outstanding politician who can represent the best of us. And that is why Filipinos only follow entertainment news.