It’s been several days since the spectacular wedding of Filipino starlets Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera (referred to as the “DongYan” couple on social media) and the Net is still abuzz about the circus. The event was said to have cost more than 100 million pesos and was purportedly shouldered by the GMA Network, one of the Philippines’ biggest media companies (NB: the couple’s wedding coordinator Teena Barretto reportedly denies the wedding was funded by GMA).
Seeing the extent to which this spectacle has taken up precious brain space in Filipinos’ heads, many now ask what it all means. Did the DongYan wedding make the Philippines a better country? Did it have a bad effect on Filipinos’ attitudes? Did it add to the society’s socio-cultural capital?
None of the above, most likely. The DongYan wedding exerts no effect on Philippine society because it is but a symptom of what is already in effect in Philippine society. Being a huge wart of a symptom makes it a good focus for much learning. Here are a few to take onboard…
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The Filipino masses (the “C-D” demographic) who constitute much of the fan base of Dantes and Rivera are surprisingly pro-rich.
Most of the the more than 1,200 comments defending the wedding that were posted on the Get Real Post article that launched, well, a thousand comments, was built upon the argument, It’s their money, and they are entitled to spend it the way they see fit.
If we look past the possibility that the cost of the wedding was, as it may turn out, actually bankrolled by the GMA Network, and assume for argument’s sake that the DongYan couple actually did shoulder the cost of their wedding, the question becomes: Should you flaunt it, just because you got it?
To that, the masses have spoken. A display of wealth most definitely gets you on the masses’ good side. Obnoxious ostentation works in the Philippines!
Big media businesses know their market well.
Despite the attention from critical minds the DongYan wedding attracted and the way alternative views about it (alternative to the mainstream view upheld by the fans) resonated across Philippine society’s snootier crust, it is unlikely that Filipinos will change their starstruck ways. No doubt the way the bang created by articles critical of this circus rippled across social media, it is likely that if the GMA Network, ABS-CBN or any other media outfit undertook a similar stunt again, Filipinos will still eat it all up.
Unfortunately, Filipinos’ beholdenness to displays of power in the form of royal pomp and circumstance, fancy power clothes, and an abundance of fair skin is deeply-ingrained in the national psyche. Colonial habits die hard. Filipinos have 500 years of colonial experience etched into the DNA of their minds, which is why an attraction to the physical traits and traditions that are hallmarks of their European colonial masters and a desire to be associated with all that remain powerful motivators — a collective psychological quirk that proves to be a bonanza to the persuasion trades; advertising, marketing, and entertainment.
And here is the crux of the matter:
Public spectacles are not what they seem.
A revealing insight brought to the fore is that Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera are mere business assets of the GMA Network. From that perspective, the Network’s taking a purported 100 million-peso slug on its treasury to fund this wedding was an investment. As more detail about the resources that went into the extravaganza are revealed, it is likely to emerge that there is nothing in the DongYan wedding that is not contrived. From the 12-foot record-breaking cake, the social media hype whipped up in the days leading to the event, and the guest list of VIPs which included eight officiating priests (some of whom were bishops) and politicians and dignitaries led by no less than Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, everything was carefully planned and engineered.
It therefore seems that this spectacle was not, as the masses were led to believe, actually Dantes’s and Rivera’s wedding. It was the GMA Network’s wedding — just one of its productions; part of its product portfolio of braincell-killing teleseryes, noontime variety shows, and quadruple-regurgitated media content offerings.
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We close with this final thought:
How would Dantes and Rivera have wedded if they had been left to do it their way?
Of course we may never know. Suffice to say, this wedding was not their wedding. This wedding was a GMA Network product.
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