Why Filipinos’ obssession with Marian Rivera mirrors Philippine politics

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe Marian Rivera fantards are “doing anything wrong”. They’re just being themselves. And we have to respect that. They’re sort of like scorpions. They sting because that is what scorpions do. There’s really nothing wrong with stinging if you have the brain of a scorpion.

marian_riveraFantardism is an interesting social phenomenon to study — because, in the Philippine setting, it is a microcosm of the sort of politics Pinoys suffer. Marian Rivera’s is a great case study of an ancient archetype that legions of Filipinos adore in much the same way Jose Rizal described it in his writings. Adoration of characters like Marian Rivera seem to be driven by the same motivations that drove Indios of the 19th Century who aspired to move up the social ladder. In the society of the time (which, as it turns out, really isn’t that much different from Philippine society of today), the portraits of power were overwhelmingly mestizo in nature.

But the adoration Marian Rivera is a bit different. Her fans don’t seem to aspire to be like her — because not too many people can be as tall, fair-skinned and pointy-nosed as Marian. Rather, the thing that seems to fascinate Marian’s fantards seems to be her representing an accessible idol — one who speaks palengke.

So unlike Rizal’s Doña Victorina de los Reyes de Espadaña who desperately took extreme measures to fit in with Spanish society in the colonies, Marian fantards have taken a smarter approach by finding an idol who has cut herself down to their level — or so they imagine.

Marian’s natural palengkera way of talking, however, is really all that her jeje-fans can hang on to. Beyond that, she is still, in reality, beyond their reach. She wed showbiz star Dingdong Dantes in a spectacle that reportedly cost 100 million pesos to mount. That’s quite an in-your-face message Marian sends to all — whether jeje or sosyal — that she is, at the end of the day, still up there in the clouds, to be looked up to but not touched by the masa. I mean, c’mon, putting up roadblocks all over Quezon City during the wedding? Seriously?

The impressive thing about all this is that this does not deter Marian fantards from idolizing her nonetheless. Despite their idol rubbing it into their faces that she can throw mega-bucks into a one-day wedding and still come across as someone that could be related with by the masa is no mean feat — which is why advertisers and marketers stumble all over themselves to sign checks for the privilege of seeing their products endorsed by people like her.

The power of fantardism may be a laughing matter for cases such as Marian Rivera. But the laughing has all but stopped when it comes to regarding how it is wielded as a potent political weapon. Fantardism is the same perverse psychology behind the fatal ascent to power of people like President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino. I mean, BS Aquino was clearly the Marian Rivera of presidential candidates back in 2010 — except that rather than represent a manicured mannequin to look up to, he was the awkward, slouchy, smelly guy who tardic Filipinos could quite easily relate with. If I am to write a book about the rise to power of the Son of Cory, there’d only be that sentence in it. And maybe an appendix on my thoughts on Marian Rivera fans to provide some scholarly reference.

Like Marian Rivera, BS Aquino routinely insults the intelligence of Filipinos. But because many Filipinos suffer from the fantard disease, they let him get away with murder and plunder. The power of celebrity nga naman talaga. The real big mystery here is why Filipinos continue to be baffled about why the Philippines remains such a wretched country, when the answer, really, is staring them in the face.


Post Author: Kate Natividad

Frustrated artist doing geek for a living.

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12 Comments on "Why Filipinos’ obssession with Marian Rivera mirrors Philippine politics"

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Dumb is as dumb watches. Pinoy culture values dumb and scoffs at IQ. You could never convince me in a zillion years that pinoys are dumb and baduy in a bubble but in real life like their jobs, in the ballot box and at political causes they will flip a switch and be proper. It don’t work that way. Lets vote in Erap cause of his movies or Noynoy because his mom died and he is a sympathetic figure. Frankly you can remove the “sym” and it would not change the meaning one iota. Like I said in my last… Read more »



In the past three years that I have been posting on and off comments here at GRP, articles by this writer did not strike me as something significant. Today, Kate Natividad I think is that perfect messenger of the issues that she tirelessly fights for. Kate Natividad speaks today’s language. She seem to know pop culture, trends, media, entertainment, people, politics and a wit to take issue on events that in her eyes are the social ills affecting Philippine society today. The extravagance of the few, the suffering and ignorance of many. Like Rizal, she seeks to awaken the lost.… Read more »
This phenomena of idolizing celebrities goes way back to renaissance, medieval and ancient times. Maybe it’s just human nature to vicariously identify with actors on stage, the big screen or the colloseum (back in the days of gladiators). Perhaps deep in the psyche of individuals is the need to escape, whether it be through movies or computer games, especially when circumstances or life is unpleasant. However the problem lies in the inability of the fan to differentiate fantasy from reality, i.e. to separate the actor’s role from the actor himself, attributing traits of the character to the actor ultimately leading… Read more »
The fantardism is like idolatry that some people forget their minds, values and morals for the sake of looking up to their idol like as if she or he is God, Mother Mary, a Hero, or the Queen or King. People voted for Erap because he was a good actor and always the good guy in his movies and the King of Masa. People voted for Cory because she’s the wife of Benigno who is a hero. So on and so forth that the fantardism for some to say hail the Queen and King seems like some cannot separate reality… Read more »

Article like this makes fantards ballistic but some fantards in social media are so irritating and bullies like seriously for love of their Queen???? Eeewwww

Zel Canlas

Marian R is a dumbf(u)ck. She’s unable to construct 2 successive sentences in English. In fact, when she tries to speak a sentence in English it’s mostly Tagalog words with only 1 or 2 words in English. B(i)tch looks imported but her command of spoken English is worse than bakya quality. I bet her nose will bleed profusely & she has to be taken to an Emergency Room if forced to speak in English. I bet she was either asleep or cutting class during her English classes from elementary to college. What a total waste of space.

Zel Canlas
Parang yung kabayo ng ABS-CBN dun sa movie niya na “Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy.” Nasa police station si Vice Ganda & non-stop niya kinakausap in English ang mga pulis. Sabi ni Vice Ganda sa isang pulis: “Do you have an alcohol? Excuse me, but do you have an alcohol?” Huh? Alcohol? What kind of alcohol? Was he asking for methanol (volatile & non-drinking alcohol) or ethanol (drinking alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)? Ugok ang writer/s ng script & lahat ng nasa set kaya kahit isa ay walang nag-correct na ang dapat sinabi ni kabayo ay: “Do you have rubbing… Read more »