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Celebrities seeking posts in the May 10 polls

Over a hundred celebrities are seeking national and local posts in the May polls, the most since the 2004 elections, data collected by GMA News Research said. In the May 2010 elections, 16 out of 109 celebrities are running for national posts while the rest are seeking local positions, mostly seeking to be councilors, based on review of the official list of candidates nationwide, GMA News Research said. This year’s celebrity candidates — including actors, singers, beauty titlists, news reporters, broadcasters or anchors, and sports figures — make up the longest list since the 2004 elections, based on data gathered by GMA News Research and an earlier study by the Institute for Popular Democracy.

The reason why celebrity candidates get elected is because of the frustration of the people. May mga nahalal nang abogado, mga may pinag-aralan pero ganun din naman, eh di dito na lang ako sa kilala ko, pareho-pareho lang naman.
– Teodoro
Many celebrities are seeking political positions owing to the "decline in the movie industry" and "public frustration," Prof. Luis Teodoro, former dean of the UP College of Mass Communication and director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, said. “I think stars have limited options," he said. "There’s a decline in the movie industry so they go on TV or politics. Tingin nila kasi madali lang manalo dahil sa pangalan. On the psychological aspect, I think gusto nilang laging nasa limelight." (They think they can win easily because of their names. And they also want to be in the limelight.) But in 2007, CMFR had seen a decline in celebrity candidates. The increase in numbers in the 2010 race may be a response to the public’s frustration, Teodoro added. “The reason why celebrity candidates get elected is because of the frustration of the people. May mga nahalal nang abogado, mga may pinag-aralan pero ganun din naman, eh di dito na lang ako sa kilala ko, pareho-pareho lang naman," Teodoro said. (Even though those who get elected may be lawyers and are educated, things stay the same. So people think, I’d rather vote for someone I know. Things will turn out the same after all.) The most prominent celebrity in the elections is, of course, former matinee idol and former president Joseph Estrada. Last year, he made a showbiz comeback in a comedy film.
Among those vying for the country’s number two post are three celebrities: actor Edu Manzano and broadcasters Loren Legarda and Jay Sonza. But most of the celebrities have chosen to try out the local race: 86 of the 109 are gearing to be district representatives, governors, vice-governor, provincial board member, mayors, vice mayor & councilor. Four out of ten are running for city or municipal councilors. “Itong mga tumatakbo as councilor, may balak ‘yang mga yan. Kasi mas madaling manalo sa local, they want to accumulate a track record," Teodoro says. (Celebrities running as councilors have higher political ambitions. It’s also easier to win at the local level and allow them to accumulate a track record.) Actor Herbert "Bistek" Bautista is among those who worked his way up the political ladder. Bautista was Quezon City councilor from 1992 to 1995. He was elected QC vice mayor from 1995 to 1998, but lost his first mayoralty bid in the 1998 elections. Then Bautista reclaimed the vice mayoralty post in 2001, serving an unbroken three terms. He is now running as city mayor. Tito Varela, former basketball referee, is now seeking a congressional seat. He was a councilor from 1998 to 2001, then served three terms as vice mayor. For this elections, 11 celebrities — most of them having started as councilors — are seeking higher posts.
But there were former celebrity councilors who had also earlier tried to move up but failed. They are now trying to start over again by regaining their former seats. Actor Robert Ortega ended three terms serving as councilor of Manila in 2007. He then ran for vice mayor and lost to fellow actor Isko Moreno. Ortega is now running again as councilor of Manila’s 5th district. Actor Lou Veloso ran for Congress in 2004 after two terms as Manila councilor. He lost his congressional bid and returned as councilor in 2007. Veloso is seeking reelection as councilor of 6th district of Manila.
While others have ran, won, lost and returned into the political fray, some are just starting out. At least 28 celebrities are newcomers in the political arena with most of them running as councilors. Some rookie celebrity candidates are fielded to fill in the position vacated by a relative. Former teen actress Precious Hipolito, running as QC 2nd District Councilor, is wife of end-term councilor Winston Castelo. Winston is now a candidate for QC 2nd legislative district. Actor Gian Sotto, son of actors Helen Gamboa and Tito Sotto, is seeking to replace sister Diorella as QC 3rd District Councilor who is on her last term. Girlie Ejercito, known in showbiz as Maita Sanchez and wife of actor ER Ejercito, is running as Pagsanjan mayor. ER is the outgoing mayor of Pagsanjan who is now aiming for the Laguna gubernatorial seat. Former actress Guia Gomez is running as San Juan mayor, a seat to be vacated by son JV. Commercial model Rachel Marguerite “Cutie" del Mar filed is seeking to replace her father as representative of Cebu City’s first congressional district. Some celebrity candidates came to stay in politics, even building their own “celebrity political dynasties." Former president Estrada’s son Jinggoy Estrada, also an actor, has served as San Juan vice mayor and mayor before he became senator in 2004. He is now running for reelection. Bong Revilla, now running for reelection as senator, followed the footsteps of his father, former senator Ramon Revilla Sr. Bong’s wife, actress Lani Mercado, is now running as district representative of Cavite. Former senator Sonny Jaworski, basketball legend, is son in law of Ramon Revilla. His son, Dodot Jaworski, served as Pasig representative for one term (2004-2007). Reelectionist senator Lito Lapid was a three-term governor of Pampanga before he first ran for the Senate in 2004. His son, Mark, took over the gubernatorial seat in 2004. Mark lost his reelection bid to Father Ed Panlilio. Another son, Maynard, is a party-list nominee. Former two-term senator Tito Sotto is seeking a comeback to the Senate. His daughter, Lala Sotto, is on her last term as QC councilor. Tito’s son Gian is running for the post to be vacated by his sister. Since the rise of the celebrity stars in politics with the election of an actor as President, celebrities for a long time banked on their popularity and name recall. But in a 2007 study, IPD noted the marked decline of celebrity winners in the elections. The “popular" advantage did not work for some stars who have been losing their bids for elective posts. Three of them are on their third attempt to win a seat in government. Jay Sonza & Richard Gomez have tried their luck in both national and local races but have yet to win. Cesar Montano lost his bid in 2007 senatorial race, but now he seeks the governorship of Bohol. Manny Pacquiao is now running as Sarangani representative after his knockout loss to Darlene Custodio for the 1st Congressional district of South Cotabato in 2007.
It seems popularity alone is no longer enough to be elected. In the 2004 and 2007 national race for example, of the celebrity candidates only those who previously held elective posts won. These include Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda and Noli de Castro. “Name recognition is not enough, somehow you need to prove your ability to serve," Teodoro said. Probably coming to the same conclusion, some incumbent celebrities took up short courses on management from the National College of Public Administration and Governance. Councilor Aiko Melendez, now running as QC Vice mayor, and reelectionist councilor Marjorie Barreto, took up basic courses on local legislation. Reelectionist vice mayor Isko Moreno took up a Development Legislation Enhancement course. Reelectionist Batangas governor Vilma Santos graduated from a short course on local governance. The May 10 polls would be the judge whether the stars of celebrity candidates continue to shine in politics. - GMA News Research