Noynoy's dinner with the stars

From Patricia Evangelista’s Jesus in Yellow on the

In a nation where government responsibility has shifted to the media, and calls for aid are directed to newsroom desks instead of the hotlines of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, this sort of move isn’t particularly surprising. A united GMA7 and ABS-CBN may seem like the best of metaphors for a united nation, but it says very much about the sort of man Noynoy Aquino is. Flanked by stars, surrounded by celebrities, content to ride on the waving banner stamped with his parents’ faces. There is no message, other than that personality is king. There are no voices, not even his. His defenders say it’s not the time for campaign—and yet that video rolls on and on in prime time television. You are not alone, they say, but who stands with you? Anne Curtis? Ate Shawie? Marielle Rodriguez? Just recently, Noynoy promised to give up his share of Hacienda Luisita, and yet denies knowing of eviction notices to farmers even while the case sits in the Supreme Court.

Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s campaign is an extreme form of what I call the industrialisation of accountability — turning accountability into a commodity by outsourcing political substance to private sector Media. He represents the new breed of Filipino politicians — relegated to making appearances, speaking in vague platitudes, and harking back to the past while saying nothing about the future. All the while, the vast army of parasites that surround him — his “supporters” — are pretty much left to exercising broad artistic license to spin all sorts of horsemanure that pass off as their candidate’s “message” to his constituents.

A commentor described the the glossy veneer that surrounds the vacuous substance of Aquino’s campaign quite well on

[a] celebrity-laden but message-less mtv-like campaign […]
[my italics]


This morning I was lucky enough to come across esteemed blogger bluepanjeet‘s piece “What’s wrong with Noynoy’s campaign ad?“. I found the article a worthwhile read in the sense of it giving me a bit more insight into the nature of the thinking processes of the sort of people who fall for the kind of lame pitch that characterises Aquino’s campaign. Most of, if not the entire article is hinged upon “a private dinner with the stars” (famous Filipino entertainers) supposedly organised to allow Aquino to be “interrogated” by them. Presumably the outcome of this interrogation is Aquino’s revealing of enough information to assist The Stars in navigating the mentally arduous task of deciding whether to “volunteer” their time to support Aquino’s campaign.

I took away the following points made there:

(1) Aquino is an ok guy because The Stars made the decision to participate in the ad after “ask[ing Noynoy] his plans and platforms so that they will know better the person they are supporting”

Note how the words “plans and platforms” and “private dinner with the stars” were used in the same paragraph, yet it was the part about the consorting with the stars that was highlighted as the key argument around why Aquino is an ok guy. You’d think that because the guy is running for the highest position in the land, it would be more of his “plans and platform” that would be the more important piece of information to highlight.

If indeed these “plans and platforms” were discussed in said dinner, then the bigger question is begged: Where and what exactly are Noynoy’s “plans and platforms”? Or does all this constitute information that only The Stars are privy to? Seems like the public would be content to know that these were discussed with The Stars without having to actually verify if said plans and platforms exist to begin with.

(2) The stars “volunteered freely” to participate in the production of the campaign ad.

The author continues, “If you were in the shoes of the Aquinos, and these stars are offering their support freely, wouldn’t it be rude to decline knowing that their only intention is to show everyone what they believe in”.

There it is: That renowned Pinoy character trait at work in the man most likely (albeit “reluctantly”) to lead the Philippines from 2010 to 2016:

Utang na loob
(Roughly translated: “debt of gratitude”)

I would have thought it would be reasonable to expect of a person who plans to lead a major southeast Asian country of more than 90 million that the basis of any decision he would make (including one that would involve who and what he will associate his campaign with) would be a rational thinking through of the factors and circumstances surrounding said decision. Instead we see Aquino, the “reluctant presidential candidate”, making a decision on the basis of an ego-boost he gets from a night of schmoozing with a bunch of showbiz personalities.

And what reassures us voters of the genuineness of the show of civic fervour amongst the lot of our starstruck country’s most beloved entertainment idols?

[…] the talkative sister of Noynoy already cleared that it was the stars who volunteered for the video. They were not forced, asked or paid, but with their own free will extended their support to the point of publicly exposing them in the ads.

I feel better (and entertained) already.

What seems to escape the vacuous sensibilities of the starstruck set is how the over-emphasis of the supposed “volunteerism” at work here actually contributes to highlighting how contrived the whole thing actually comes across.

And indeed, after all of the above (the emphasis on the dinner, the schmoozing, and the contrived volunteerism), plus the irony that escapes us: that these are people who make a handsome living pretending to be something they are not, it is all “off-tangent” after all:

(3) “Even before the ad showed on National TV, Noynoy already took lead in the survey

The survey here being merely the most recent of many past and many more to come that have — and will — show Aquino as by far the most popular presidential candidate of the lot. So according to the author, Mr. “bluepanjeet”, The Stars are just private citizens who happen to be famous, who “have the same plotical [sic] rights as ours” and are (presumably in joining the Noynoy bandwagon) merely voicing “a silent opinion that they are supporting a cnadidate [sic] who they believe is worthy of their votes”.

Hmmm… doesn’t a “silent opinion” cease to be “silent” once you voice it? Considering this sampling of the kinds of “opinion” we are talking about here…

Comedian Aiai de las alas [sic – name was not capitalised at the source] was even asked by Kris Aquino twice if it will create a controversy for her since the ad will come up on tv before the showing of her film with Joseph Estrada who is also a candidate for the Presidency. The Comedian replied that since the EDSA days, she has already been a pro-aquino and doing the ad is her personal choice and her relationship with co-actor Joseph Estrada is a non-issue with regards to her political convictions.

…perhaps society would have been better off had these “opinions” remained “silent”.

I do agree with one thing though: “[The Stars] have more responsibility to their fans in terms of public opinion”. Indeed. Evidence of how The Stars have used this responsibility to subtract from the national collective intellect abounds. Singling out the most vacuous campaign leading up to the 2010 presidential elections is only the most recent instance of The Stars’ illustrious track record of dumbing down the Filipino — a trackrecord that goes back several decades.


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9 Responses to Noynoy's dinner with the stars

  1. GabbyD says:

    1) as a man knowledgeable about marketing, you know that there are different kinds of ads. in fact, there are only 12 kinds of ads in the world….

    the noynoy ad here is “celebrities ad/user imagery ad”. there are 12 kinds of product/service ads, but i suggest far fewer kinds of political ads.

    the nature of the medium (short, visual) places limits on the kinds of things you can communicate.

    are you saying you are against anysort of imagery in TV ads?

    there is also something about the nature of the philippine presidency that you are missing. in the philippines, there are no swing topics, topics that you can campaign on to swing public opinion to you. none, except perhaps one — attitudes toward the incumbent.

    coz there are no swing topics, and no negative campaigning, that severely limits the kind of ads you can have even more.

    2) i’m concerned about this: ““If you were in the shoes of the Aquinos, and these stars are offering their support freely, wouldn’t it be rude to decline knowing that their only intention is to show everyone what they believe in”.”

    and you call this utang na loob. thats a hell of a logical jump.

    also, you call the volunterism, contrived? why? what does contrived volunteerism even mean?

    are you saying they didnt volunteer? that they are lying?

    3) after quoting ai ai’s comment, you write: “…perhaps society would have been better off had these “opinions” remained “silent”.”

    why? whats wrong with what she said?

  2. BenK says:

    I’m having a hard time deciding what it is about Noynoy: Is it lack of character to lead his followers, or is it a cynical, highly-trapo attitude towards politics wherein he believes it’s both possible and perfectly acceptable to let people push him into office? Which then frees him from having to take any sort of stand or responsibility — “I’m only here because you (in the case of the video, the you is represented by the Beautiful People) wanted me to be, therefore whatever happens is not my fault.” Far from being the nerdy, deferential good guy he tries to come across as, he’s actually displaying a huge messianic complex. But even most other would-be messiahs have some sort of plan, no matter how crazy.

  3. benign0 says:

    In that BarrioSiete article, Noynoy was actually referred to as “the reluctant” candidate. Classy. Personal conviction is not there not to mention all the already sufficiently-highlighted crucial ingredients to a credible term of office as top excecutive of the land — a vision, a plan, and a bit of character attributable to one’s own achievement. All non-existent in the most popular candidate of the land.

    But he is popular, and he will probably win. Sad reality in a sad sad land.

    • GabbyD says:

      huh? reluctant to run =no personal conviction? you are reaching, friend!

      • benign0 says:

        Reluctant because Originally no plans to run ergo No ingrained vision for the presidency and as such No personal conviction relevant to being President of the Republic.

        It’s simple, really™.

      • GabbyD says:

        No ingrained vision because he was reluctant to run?

        the implicit assumption — the ONLY reason not to run is the lack of said vision.

        that betrays a misunderstanding of the costs/problems of the undertaking of a presidential campaign, not to mention being president itself.

        sadly, that isnt true. one can have a vision, but opt not to run for a myriad of reasons (reasons that he himself explained, but that you conveniently forget!)

        it is also NOT true, that a person who has as his sole ambition to be president, that he MUST have some big vision for the country. it is true he has PERSONAL AMBITION, but this doesnt mean he has a vision of development.

      • You said it yourself says:

        it is also NOT true, that a person who has as his sole ambition to be president, that he MUST have some big vision for the country. it is true he has PERSONAL AMBITION, but this doesnt mean he has a vision of development.

        If that’s true about Noynoy, then he’s not the man for the job, plain and simple.

  4. wanderwoman says:

    i just talked to someone who has interviewed Noynoy… perception is that he’s really a limp, wet, biscuit. I’m not going to defend him, but I disagree that attacking him on his personality and inherited credibility (no matter how annoying, and illogical this is) will not work on a broad scale because people will defend him using exactly the same things – perceptions are subjective after all and not all of us have first hand experience of what it’s like to talk to him and see for ourselves. Attacking him on his platform and achievements in a dispassionate and fair way i think will be more effective in the end because it will provoke less emotional reactions, and when it comes to an emotional arsenal Noynoy can out gun them all. He’s like an emotional war lord with a huge private army on his side.

    To follow up on that though, emotional and cleverly written attacks on Noynoy do have their role… they pull the cynics and sort of intellectuals and give the anti noynoy camp a cool, rebellious edge. But the dispassionate, thoughtful criticism should also follow to complete the arguments and make a substantial point.

    • benign0 says:

      In other words, Noynoy is no more than a demagogue — good at appealing to emotion but utterly one-dimensional in his regard for any issue of consequence. So, yes, there needs to be a bit of a fighting-fire-with-fire element here to appeal to the same sort of sensibilities that appeal to those who latch on to his empty platitudes.

      Noynoy had a headstart in the ‘cool’ department. That’s because Pinoys aren’t really known for their stoic edgeyness preferring instead the warm fuzzy world of cringe-worthy love-ins of mutually-assured niceness.

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