Broadsheets—not tabloids —have been having a field day trying to outdo, outsell and “out-sensationalize” each other over supposedly private matters involving money (lots of ’em!) and the heart, and starring two of the country’s most high-profile pairs: Kris Aquino and James Yap, and Sen. Chiz Escudero and Heart Evangelista.
One even went to town with a rather bewildering banner that probably left many readers far from bewitched: “Kris vs James: Just stay away.”
Who said what, and who should stay away?
Our good friend Jude said it’s not Kris, James or even Bimby who should stay away. It’s the readers!
But serious readers shouldn’t take mainstream media to task for drumming up the twin domestic scandals. Every media outfit needs to sell. They should instead lay the blame on Filipinos and their insatiable penchant for show-biz gossip.
If unregulated blogs are to serve as barometers for reader preference, it’s clear that shallow and salacious stories about famous and beautiful people always draw the lion’s share of hits.
My experience as a newbie blogger bears this out. No matter how genuine and well written—at least in my mind—some of my pieces are, more readers are drawn to less edifying entries on movie stars dispensing beauty tips or parading in various stages of undress in Bench’s underwear show.
Something as timely and controversial, for instance, as my pieces on the RH Bill and Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation could hardly generate one percent of the hits produced by my twin entries on the Ricky Lo-Anne Hathaway brouhaha. And Anne isn’t even Catholic!
Of the two, the Kris Aquino-James Yap public spat is the more “classical,” as the bone of contention revolves around the custody of the estranged couple’s 5-year-old son Bimby, and the division of spoils from their now broken conjugal home.
We’ve all seen Kris cry her heart out on national TV. P-Noy didn’t make an appearance (I’m sure the “Queen of All Media” would insist that her late mother, President Cory, was with her in spirit), but Kris’ three elder sisters were there to give her more than enough shoulder to cry on.
Again, the earnestness and spontaneity that always seemed to have eluded her as an actress were on full display in front of the cameras. Only this time, she was crying over a different man and the supposed violation she suffered from him.
I will leave the Kris-James issue to its logical conclusion. With their respective battery of lawyers, it appears to be a clear-cut scenario—a textbook case of two colliding egos trying to outdo each other publicly, and with their son as a hapless and unwitting prop in the ultimate game of emotional blackmail.
On the other hand, the “fresher,” sleazier and more unpredictable controversy involves Chiz, 46, and Heart, 28, and the latter’s parents.
As if holding a press con to try to win their adult daughter back wasn’t enough, Rey and Baby Ongpauco, Heart’s parents, have conscripted INQUIRER columnist Ramon Tulfo to join their camp.
Tulfo, a police reporter by training, isn’t exactly known in the industry as a paragon of tact.
I’m no big fan of the reelectionist senator myself, a consistent topnotcher in almost all the surveys. Apart from Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Chiz Escudero is one politician whose words could ring in my ears for their distinct cadence and his seemingly contrived efforts to speak in deep and sometimes archaic Tagalog.
It’s as if he and Miriam were speaking to me in person every time I come across their quotes. But, despite her weird ways, Miriam has shown flashes of brilliance that, on a good day, can also be amusing. Chiz, to me, simply comes across as weird, dour and a bit fake.
Still, no matter how we look at it, the Ongpaucos’ efforts to win back their daughter and derail Chiz’s reelection bid are lost causes.
The senator, despite being pictured as a drunkard and disrespectful man, clearly has the upper hand.
For one, Heart is pushing 30 and can do anything she wishes, short of marrying the previously married Chiz in Catholic rites.
Second worst thing
The parents’ decision to get Tulfo to articulate their side didn’t help, either. It was the second worse thing they did after holding a press conference to save their “needy” daughter from the clutches of her supposedly wily and more seasoned lover. Ang guwapo naman ni Chiz! Bilib na ako.
I’m quoting Tulfo’s March 21 column. See for yourself if it’s doing more harm than good to the Ongpaucos’ cause.
Baby Ongpauco: “You know, our daughter is a spoiled brat and we buy her all the things she wants. You know what Chiz does? He gave Heart a watch, which he said came from a Chinese supporter.
“He learned that Heart wanted a certain (brand of) watch so he got it from a Chinese supporter. That’s how he gives gifts to Heart: He would get them from supporters. Like that watch which costs five million pesos which, he told Heart, he would pay back to the Chinese.”
Rey Ongpauco: “Bobby Ongpin backs him (Chiz) up (financially). Heart wanted a (house) trailer, Chiz said for her not to buy it because he would give it to her as a gift. Bobby Ongpin would give it to him as a Christmas gift.
“Now, he promised to buy Heart a house. ‘Don’t ask your dad to build you a house because I will take care of buying it for you. My law firm was approached by a foreign company and will hire my firm.’ In truth, I heard he has no law firm.
“My daughter’s P30-million movie contract, he boasted he would top nine times over.”
Who’s to blame?
Heart comes from a well-off family of restaurateurs and isn’t exactly poor. And with her show-biz earnings, she can easily afford to buy these luxuries herself.
But the statements her own parents made against her make it appear that she’s the one with the problem, not Chiz. Not only does she come across as needy for affection, she’s also a picture of a bilmoko (material) girl.
And where and how did she acquire such values?
Chiz, a master of spin and timing, has again played the underdog to the hilt in a later statement defending his love for Heart even if he isn’t as rich as Heart’s parents.
He conveniently forgets that “rich” is relative. To majority of the Filipino people who can barely make ends meet, Chiz is certainly no pobre.
But ranged against a very powerful and crafty adversary, the Ongpaucos, perhaps in their desperation, did the unthinkable by washing their dirty linen in public and thrashing their daughter in the process.
And we are all the poorer, less enlightened and shallower—more than ever—for it.
This piece first appeared in the author’s blog, www.alexyvergara.com