Da Pilipino way: showbiz and government are inseparable

dumb 1Filipinos are infamous for their short attention spans and stunted mental faculties.

As a form of entertainment, many Filipinos rely on television. However mass media giants use this medium, whether to educate the population or turn them into mindless, loyal, zombies, its power cannot be underestimated. If they do decide to show nothing but dancing girls or celebrities making tasteless and crude jokes, or cheesy telenovelas with rehashed feel-good plots, or news that is poorly researched, then they indeed do justice to the slang terms “boob tube”, “idiot tube”, and “idiot box”, just to name a few.

After a while, certain Filipinos are unable to distinguish between the make-believe world of the teleserye, and they instead escape into a world where their feel-good fantasies are real. Such is the power of TV for you.

The showbiz celebrities whom Filipinos see on TV, will of course appear larger than life to them. Especially when they induce feel-good vibes and kilig moments into their audience, it’s easy to hook the people into watching them and regarding them as people to be put on a pedestal.

How Filipinos see government officials runs along a similar, and disturbing pattern. Just as showbiz celebrities are good at “selling” the feel-good moments to be watched on TV, public servants are good at “selling” any promises they want to make, and Filipinos are practically at their feet in order to beg for all the good stuff that the politician has to give. Regardless of the consequences. And Filipinos lap it all up and put them on a pedestal as well.

Of course, this phenomenon manifests itself strongest whenever elections of some sort happen here in the Philippines. But it never really goes away in between. It just remains dormant. And it seems that wherever they go, Filipinos will find it hard to shake off this habit of being starstruck ignoramuses.

So when elder Singapore statesman Lee Kuan Yew called out and chewed up a Filipino student, Harvey Campos, for asking a personal question where it does not belong in a discussion about public matters, should we really have been surprised or shocked? From a certain perspective, yes, because Filipinos assume that they can carry such thinking and mindset everywhere they go. On the other hand, no, because Filipinos focus more on personalities and events than issues and ideas.

Filipinos, using the need to “humanize” as an excuse, do not step up to raise the level of discourse. Instead, they drag it and dumb it down to the level of comfort in gossip and trivial matters that is all too familiar to them.

Fellow GRP writer Ilda, in her usual brilliant form, pointed things out very well in her recent article:

One simply should avoid asking personal questions in a public forum especially when high profile personalities in politics are involved. This rule should apply not just in Singapore but also in the Philippines. One can try asking a personal question but if the person being asked doesn’t want to answer it, one should respect that. It’s called privacy.

The problem with our society is that we Filipinos put more emphasis on the personality behind our public servants. Instead of focusing on what matters, we care more about the trivial stuff, which are irrelevant in our goal to bring our country from Third World to First. We care more about our favorite politician’s girlfriend or wife, what they wear and what kind of car they drive. It’s as if knowing that we voted for someone who is dating a celebrity or someone who is driving a Porsche would actually help us feel secure that the country is in good hands.

This is why every time an incompetent public servant like President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino or any of his staff commits gaffes or worse, violates the law, all they need to do to divert people’s attention from the issue is to publish personal details about himself or someone else’s sex video and voila! People will quickly forget about the issues. It works all the time. This is why our public servants get away with stealing public funds in broad daylight and treat the country like their personal fiefdom. In short, Filipinos love being entertained.

Evaluate platforms? Ang hirap naman.
Inquire about stance on issues? Wala akong paki.
Ask about plans for office? Basta bigyan niya muna ako ng pera o pangkain.
Show interest in public policy? Umindak ka muna diyan sa stage.

Details about personal life? Mas interesado ako doon!
Ability to sing and dance? Oo!
Catchy slogan? Pwede!
Feel-good abstract motherhood statements? Korak!
Reference to famous dead (or living) parents? May tama ka!
Money to buy your vote/loyalty? Game na!

The unanswered question remains: How will knowing about the personal circumstances and private trivia of public servants help us in evaluating their stances on issues of public and national interest?

That will not really matter, though, to a people who are much more comfortable with gossip and trivial matters than they are with the serious, weighty issues that their society faces.

Showbiz and government are inseparable indeed here in the Philippines. Filipinos should learn to distinguish between them and to regard them separately, otherwise they’ll never hold their public officials accountable the proper way.

[Photo courtesy: All Things Wildly Considered]


About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

Post Author: FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

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49 Comments on "Da Pilipino way: showbiz and government are inseparable"

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This article reminds me why we should never endorse celebs to run for government positions: Unless said celebrity have the means and the understanding of how the laws are made and how politics is managed, Filipinos will vote for the celebrity simple because they have “star power” – i.e. actors who they think can portray their roles from the big screen to real life. Unfortunately, only a VERY FEW have managed to achieve being effective officials outside their celebrity status.

Robert Haighton
Ian, I do get your point very well. But after voting and electing yet another celebrity and again being disappointed by him/her, would it be time to vote for somebody else who really makes a difference? In order words: If I voted for a celebrity 10 times in a row but constantly been disappointed, I would start to wonder myself what I am doing wrong and telling myself “next time, I will vote for a real human being”. Why does that question never pops up with Philippine people? Or are the voters never disappointed by the ones they elect and… Read more »
“Filipinos should learn to distinguish between them and to regard them separately, otherwise they’ll never hold their public officials accountable the proper way.” I never thought I’d come to a point in my life where I’d ponder solutions to societal ails or even give much consideration to public policy until I came to live in the Philippines. So much more do I now appreciate the society and culture in which I was raised. I often compare my experience of living here to a concept I learned during my undergrad years studying Physics. The concept entails a way of grasping the… Read more »
I blame the media for this, they were the ones who incorporate showbiz to politics. For example, whenever a showbiz personality wants to run for office, the media flocks to that particular personality. The answer ” Gusto ko sana makatulong na totoo sa ating mga kababayan, hinde lamang ang mapasaya sila sa harap ng tv” is the most common and most used by these showbiz entities. The media will now start a special regarding that personalities life, acts of charity, good family etc. Combine all that and Viola!, you now have a new politician. They have now implanted that personality… Read more »
Hyden Toro
During the reign of the Roman Empire. If the people get restless. The Roman Emperors gave them : “Circus and Bread”. This was the reason , they built: the Roman Colloseum, and had Gladiator fights…they have also Chariots Races, at Circus Maximus…mocked Naval Battles…legal prostitutions…etc.. The Television telenovelas, and programs; that have no sense, are in the TV waves. To entertain people. Divert their attentions. and take their “brainwashed minds”…So, we elected :movie stars, comedians, TV celebrities,etc… as our political leaders. Thinking, that their heroism on TV or cinema; will be translated into Realities in our lives. With the Heroes/heroines… Read more »
JT Jerzy
I’d go a little further and say that asking anyone personal questions when the inquirer is a total stranger is WAY out of line. An immigration official in the philippines once asked me what my political leanings were, what my income was, and what church I go to. It was all none of his business and when he asked me if the address I provided him with in my home country was a home, I told him “NO, its a tree.”. The fuckin idiot did not even realize what a moron he was being and when I started laughing at… Read more »

ano naman kung artista ang tumakbo? wala ba sila karapatan?

Thomas Jefferson
A SHORTIE ON SUBLIMINAL PERCEPTION “Subliminal messages and perception are linked to the idea of mind control, and the roots of this are placed very far back in our history. Mind control is where an individual or group of individuals can be controlled without their awareness…” Thank God Adolf Hitler had no television to pass subliminal messages through celebrities and government functionaries! Nazi mind control was established through repeat the great lie black propaganda. If Hitler had television during his time he would have conquered the world without firing a single shot! The present use of subliminal messages is found… Read more »

In politics like advertising the strapline is all important.
Today the nominations for the nobel peace prize close ( public nominations) and this is aquinos major goal.
He wants ‘ champion of peace’ accompanying his name everytime it is mentioned to override the reality and sit alongside mummy’s ‘icon of democracy’.
People who have no clue about cory aquino actually believe that. Remember we are not dealing with bright people, but followers, the unthinking masses.

Thomas Jefferson

The truth shall set you free… mind control and politics:



I’ve recently been on a slurry of interviews for a IT position and I can’t understand why HR managers and interviewers keep asking me personal questions about my family or what I am like outside the office. I don’t think how I conduct my personal affairs will make me a better or worse candidate for that position neither will my family status tell of my skillset and expertise. Even “professionals” love to gossip in a supposedly business-like context like a applicant interview. What is this country coming to?

Bill Kasi

They would rather idolize than seek the truth. That is sad. The yellow media are the instigators.

Jim DiGriz

TV imitates life, but in the Philippines, life imitates TV.


Something I’ve been wondering: is there any tradition of self-deprecating humour in the Philippines? Or cynical satire on a national platform, along the lines of The Daily Show in the US?

I see plenty of people earnestly criticising the government on social media, but do Filipinos ever laugh at themselves? Or do they only direct their scorn down the perceived social ladder?


Well, this makes few would say why not abolish elections and replace it with examination system? Let neocameralism do its way.

Propaganda Boy

Mga Hapones dito, matindihan ‘to.

If our loyalists such as Marcos Loyalists, want militarization with the government rather than showbiz because it needs discipline and authoritarian government to suppress corruption and freedom.