SOMETIME, many times in the 2000s, the TVs, the billboards, the tabloids and newspapers—not sure about the radios—would proclaim Kris as “the queen of all media.” Not a tautology, not a redundancy; a hammering away of the point: give “Superstar” to Nora, “Star for all Seasons” to Vilma, “Diamond Star” to Maricel, Star for a Night to Sarah G, Star in a Million, to Erik Santos (do you remember Sheryn Regis’ caught-on-camera ‘WHAT-I-CANT-BELIEVE-IT’ reaction when Santos was declared champion?), Starstruck to Jennylyn, Star Circle Quest to Sandara.
Kris would have none of those stellar terminologies, she would be a Queen, and not just a queen of this or a queen of that, but THE queen of ALL media.
I’ve written this before – not in some dream or some imagined moment of déjà vu – how in the 2000s, you see Kris from Monday to Friday in that noontime game show that tried to keep up with Tito Vic and Pepsi Paloma – ay hanggang Saturday pala yung show – and then on Sundays in The Buzz, with the “King of Talk,” Boy Abunda (didn’t Boy care about the gendered flavor of that designation?).
There was no weekly Talk to the People then, no sleepy, old man, sounding like your lolo, prattling about China and pantries and kulungan and Lumad schools in various registers and languages: pormal, kalye, bastos, sexist, binisaya, ingles, soli-lokwi, walang-direksyon.
Then, by mid-morning, Kris and Korina would talk about ewan, di ko na maalala, celebrity moms and the challenges of middle-class mothering, mga ganyan. By lunchtime, you don’t ask What’s up madlang pipol, but Pilipinas, game ka na ba? Then by evenings, the constant flow of daily happenings worthy to be called ‘news,’
UNLESS, it’s post-elections and a tape (not an mp3 file, not a Cloud upload) was surfaced where the country’s outgoing president was caught talking to Garci, then – COMELEC Commissioner, saying, Hello hello, something, inaudible, blurriness, lamang ba ako sa Mindanao, 12-0 ba tayo sa Mindanao, mananalo ba ako sa Mindanao? Before another ‘star’ – ano bang tawag ke Susan Roces maliban sa, uhm, nanay ni Kardo? ‘star of the 1960s,’ ganyan?—famously declared that You’re nothing but a second rate; trying hard, not once, but twice, Gloria broke the monotony of the evening news by talking to the people, saying to them in those eternalized words and enunciation, I, am, sorry, visualizing the poetry of Cummings, of Villa.
I try to recall televisual pop culture in the 2000s and I recognize the familiar observation about the intermingling shades of showbiz and politics, celebrities, and congressmen. That decade started with FPJ’s kumpare, Erap, being impeached on national TV.
Somewhere along the timeline, there was Kris, not jolly and ma-chika as she usually is in The Buzz, but tearful and without makeup, telling the country that she got a certain disease from a certain Joey Marquez. Maybe someday I’ll be invested and pettily nerdy enough that I’ll ask the abscbn pips how did the ratings compare on those two historically monumental nights in broadcasting (and Philippine) history: Gloria saying sorry to the people, Kris revealing that she’s been infected with a disease.
The TV hardly contributed to my politicization. Rephrase ko para fewer syllables ha: The TV hardly helped in politicizing me. Decades ago, someone was singing the revolution will not be televised; and in 2000s, before entering university, what I saw televised was Hero Angeles rekindling fans’ longing for some pre-BTS mania years ago; Edu Manzano (the VP candidate of Gloria’s party during the 2010 elections, the elections Kris’ brother won) dancing Papaya; QTV predating GMA News TV; the Archers’ Mark Cardona taunting FEU’s Arwind Santos’ after a Finals game; Willie Revillame in tears after an unfortunate stampede in Ultra, among other seeming trivialities, linkable to the persistence of our belief in one-in-a-million instant ticket out of poverty, good, ceaseless entertainment – from sports to dance crazes – entailed by our national suffering: pila-pila for NFA rice, water shortages, poverty not as statistic but always bordering on the hackneyed “ganyan talaga, wala na tayong magagawa.”
The set of images that greatly helped in politicizing me were from a documentary I saw as part of the college student publication. More than its play on the words “profit” and “sugarcane,” Sa Ngalan ng Tubo was memorable for me, exposed as I was for the first time to the sheer, unfiltered, unfettered violence the hacienderos and landed elites can enforce against their very agricultural workers who were protesting getting paid less than twenty pesos a month (maski nga 20 per hour, hindi na makatao). Sa Ngalan ng Tubo documented the struggle of Hacienda Luisita workers, and how they were met with teargas and bullets in 2004. They were protesting getting paid less than twenty pesos a month, and they were met with bullets, teargas, and sheer class violence from the Cojuangco-Aquino landlords.
This was not televised of course, because Gloria had to say sorry, and Kris Aquino had to tell the world that Joey Marquez had infected her with something not good.