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Who are the fan favourites in the Philippine election?

Celebrities, entertainers, athletes and beauty queens join the Philippine political bandwagon

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Celebrities, entertainers, athletes and beauty queens join the Philippine political bandwagon

With the Philippine national and local elections coming in May 2022, celebrity power is not only evident in endorsements of politicians but also in the candidacy of popular personalities for positions in government. At the close of the Commission on Elections’s filing deadline on 8 October, names with recall in the field of politics have been seen, as well as those in the field of entertainment, pageantry and sports.

The most prominent of these personalities hail from showbusiness, sports and music who are gunning for the country’s top posts. World boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, who recently retired from the sport, will vie for President and contend with former matinee idol Isko Moreno Damagoso. Pacquiao is a current Philippine Senator, while Damagoso is the incumbent Mayor of the Philippine capital, Manila.

Current Philippine Senate President, Tito Sotto, part of the comedy trio TVJ (Tito, Vic and Joey) and long-time host of Eat Bulaga joins the race for the Vice President post. 

The Philippine Senate also sees aspirants who have a strong following, but who have no logged in-hours in government. Joining in are broadcaster Raffy Tulfo and action star Robin Padilla. Other hopefuls who have had government service records in both national and local governments include Herbert Bautista, Jinggoy Estrada and Monsour del Rosario. 

Actor Raymond Bagatsing, whose mother lives in Melbourne, will run for vice mayor of Manila under Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. Raymond’s grandfather Ramon Bagatsing served as mayor of Manila from 1971 until 1986.

Actor Raymond Bagatsing files his candidacy for Vice-Mayor of Manila under KBL

Being celebrities, these candidates have an advantage having platforms available to them in mass and social media such as their own TV shows, movies, guestings, media coverage and ‘collab’ (collaboration) with social media influencer(s). Followers have become the new currency and determinant of power and influence, plus their ‘star power’ easily puts them ahead of the pack, the election being an exercise of recall, which could translate to numbers (or votes).  

The width and breadth of reach also makes a remarkable difference, since votes for national candidates also come in from Filipinos abroad. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the number of Overseas Filipino Workers number 2.2 million as of 2019. The Commission on Overseas Filipinos estimates the population of Filipinos abroad at 10.2 million, including permanent migration, although not all can be counted as voters. 

Politicians in your neighbourhood

A number of celebrities have also signified their intent to join the local elections, including positions as District and Partylist Representatives (Congressman/woman), Mayors and Vice Mayors, Governors and Vice Governors and Members of Provincial Boards. 

Some celebrities have graced local politics and have gained traction in the political arena. For example, Joseph Estrada served San Juan 17 years before he made the leap for a national position as Senator in 1987. He eventually climbed up from Senator to Vice President and President of the Philippines, until his ouster in 2001 on charges of plunder.

Lito Lapid was Vice Governor and later Governor of Pampanga before he embarked on a bid for the Senate in 2004. He is currently a Senator, but prior to this term, he also won a seat in the Senate and served 2004-2010 and again in 2010-2016. 

Will the new breed of celebrities follow suit, especially those who are staking a claim for political positions for the first time at the local level?  Among those who will suit up and potentially have their first taste of politics include actors Arjo Atayde (Congressman); actors Bobby Andrews, Angelu de Leon, Arci Muñoz, Nash Aguas and Claudine Barretto (Councilors); basketball stars James Yap (Councilor), Alvin Patrimonio (Mayor) and Robert ‘Dodot’ Jaworski Jr (Vice Mayor); Ejay Falcon (Vice Governor); and Jason Abalos (Provincial Board Member). 

A number of stars are also seeking re-election, pushing for another chance at the local government after being on hiatus for some time, or simply seeking another position (a leg up or down). These include actors Jhong Hilario, Aiko Melendez, Alma Moreno, Vandolph Quizon and Anjo Yllana (Councilor); actors Richard Gomez, Lani Mercado and Angelica Jones (Congressman/woman); singer Imelda Papin and actor Daniel Fernando (Governor) and Lucy Torres-Gomez (Mayor). 

Joining the fray are beauty queens who may see the political route as a wider platform to give voices and visibility to those in the sidelines, similar to their quest mottos. Former Miss Universe Runner up and now Miss Universe Philippines Director Shamcey Supsup will represent as first nominee ARTE, a partylist advocating fashion, entertainment and creative sectors. Beauty titlist and athlete Michelle Gumabao, on the other hand, will stand for Mothers for Change. She is the second nominee, the first being Mocha Uson. 

The Philippine Consitution mandates that Sectoral Representatives make up 20% of the House of Representatives. This system was instituted to include marginalised sectors (e.g., urban poor, labourers, women, farmers) and other organised communities (political parties or regional groups). In contrast to District Representatives (Congressmen or Congresswomen) who are voted directly to the House, Sectoral Representatives (Partylist Representatives) are indirectly chosen because people vote for the party and not the individual.

Each party list can only have a maximum of three seats in the Philippine House of Representatives. Only the top-ranked party lists are included in the final list and those who have garnered the highest votes get a prorated number of representatives. For every 2% garnered in the total national votes, a partylist gets one seat. 

The 18th House of Representatives current number stands at 243 (79%) for District Representatives and 64 for Sectoral Representatives (21%). In the 2019 elections, the party lists to gain the highest number of votes were ACT-CIS, Bayan Muna and Marino and got three seats each as a result. 

To vote or not to vote

The question begs, ‘Should we vote for stars?’ If we want to take the easy route, just mark the circles with recognisable names, our favourite afternoon soap star or player that scores and drives our chosen team to victory. Afterall, it can be said that not all ‘entertainers’ are bad political eggs, inasmuch as not all educated or experienced politicians give laudable public service. 

The answer will all boil down to our own discernment, a reflection of what you see as good for you, your families, your communities and your country. Do these entertainers have the same value as yours? Do they stand for issues you are passionate about? You have to ask the critical questions, find answers and make a decisive vote. You have to take all these steps and not skip any one. At the end of the day, you have to stand up for your choice and account for it. Whose dream did you fulfill – yours or your idol’s? As far as the future is concerned, truly, it’s not ‘that’s entertainment’. 

(Note: The list of candidates is tentative until the Philippine Commission on Elections releases a final, official record.)

Karla Estrada is running as nominee under Tingog Partylist
Actress Karla Estrada is running as nominee under Tingog Sinirangan Partylist

NATIONAL GOVERNMENT

President

Name
Entertainment credit
Government elective post(s) held
Isko Moreno Damagoso


Actor, brand ambassador



Councilor, 1st District of Manila – 1998-2007
Vice Mayor, Manila – 2007-2016
Mayor, Manila – 2016-present
Manny Pacquiao

Eight-division world boxing champion
Congressman, Saranggani – 2010-2016
Senator, 2016-present

Vice-President

NameEntertainment creditGovernment elective post(s) held
Sotto, Tito

Former actor and national athlete; TV host and musician

Vice Mayor, Quezon City – 1988-1992
Senator – 2010-present

Senator

NameEntertainment creditGovernment elective post(s) held
Bautista, Herbert




Actor




Councilor, 3rd District of Quezon City – 1992-1995
Vice Mayor, Quezon City – 1995-1998 and 2001-2010
Mayor, Quezon City – 2010-2019
Del Rosario, MonsourFormer actor and national athleteCouncilor, Makati City – 2010-2016
Congressman, Makati – 2016-2019
Estrada, Jinggoy


Former actor


Vice Mayor, San Juan City – 1988-1992
Mayor, San Juan City – 1992-2001
Senator – 2004-2016
Padilla, RobinActorNone
Tulfo, RaffyBroadcasterNone

Partylist group

Name

Entertainment credit
Government elective post(s) heldPartylist name

Nora Aunor


Actress and singer


None


National Organization for Responsive Advocacies for the Arts (NORA A)
Karla Estrada
Actress and TV hostNone
Tingog Sinirangan
Michelle GumabaoAthlete and beauty queenNone

Mothers for Change

Tom RodriguezActor and singer
None
Anak Maharlikang Pilipino
Shamcey SupsupBeauty queen

None

ARTE

Margeaux “Mocha” UsonSinger-dancer

None

Mothers for Change

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

District Representative

NameEntertainment creditGovernment elective post(s) heldDistrict of candidacy
Arjo AtaydeActor

None

1st District of Quezon City
Richard GomezActor and former national athleteMayor, Ormoc City – 2016-present

4th District of Leyte
Angelica Jones
Actress

Provincial Board Member, 3rd District of Laguna – 2010-2016 and 2019-present3rd District of Laguna
Lani Mercado

Former actress


Congresswoman, 2nd District of Cavite – 2010-2016
Mayor, Bacoor City, Cavite – 2016-present
2nd District of Cavite

Jolo RevillaActor

Vice Governor, Cavite – 2013-2016 and 2019-present1st District of Cavite
Richard YapActor

None

1st District of Cebu
Anjo Yllana




Actor and former television host



Councilor, 2nd district of Parañaque City – 1998-2004
Vice Mayor, Parañaque City – 2004-2007
Councilor, 5th district of Quezon City – 2013-2019
4th District of Camarines Sur



Governor

Name
Entertainment creditGovernment elective post(s) heldDistrict of candidacy
Sharifa AkeelBeauty queen
None
Sultan Kudarat
Daniel Fernando



Actor




Senior Provincial Board Member, Bulacan – 2001-2007
Vice Governor, Bulacan – 2010-2019
Governor, Bulacan – 2019-present

Bulacan




Imelda Papin

Singer

Vice Governor, Camarines Sur – 1998-2004 and 2019-presentCamarines Sur

Vice-Governor

Name
Entertainment creditGovernment elective post(s) heldDistrict of candidacy
Alex Castro



Actor and singer




Sangguniang Kabataan, Marilao, Bulacan – 2002-2007
Councilor, Marilao, Bulacan – 2009-2013
Provincial Board Member, Bulacan – 2016-present
Bulacan




Ejay FalconActor

None

Oriental Mindoro

Provincial Board Member

Name
Entertainment creditGovernment elective post(s) heldDistrict of candidacy
Jason AbalosActor

None

2nd District of Nueva Ecija
Bryan RevillaFormer actor

None

2nd District of Cavite

Mayor

Name
Entertainment credit
Government elective post(s) heldCity of candidacy
Javi Benitez


Actor


None


Victorias City, Negros Occidental
Vergel Meneses

Former basketball player, basketball coach and national athleteMayor, Bulakan, Bulacan – 2019-present

Bulakan, Bulacan

Alvin Patrimonio

Former basketball player and national athlete and current PBA team managerNone


Cainta, Rizal


Lucy Torres-Gomez

Former actress and TV host


Congresswoman, 4th District of Leyte – 2010-presentOrmoc City


Vice-Mayor

Name
Entertainment creditGovernment elective post(s) heldCity of candidacy
Raymond BagatsingActor

None

Manila

Robert ‘Dodot’ Jaworski, Jr.

Former basketball player

Councilor, San Juan City – 1995-1998
Congressman, Lone District of Pasig City – 2004-2007
Pasig City


Teri Onor



Actor and stand-up comedian


Provincial Board Member, 1st District of Bataan – 2010-2019
Vice Mayor, Abucay, Bataan – 2007-2010
Abucay, Bataan


Yul Servo



Former actor



Councilor, 3rd District of Manila – 2007-2016
Congressman, 3rd District of Manila – 2016-present
Manila



Councilor

Name
Entertainment creditGovernment elective post(s) heldDistrict of candidacy
Don Allado

Basketball player

None

2nd District of San Juan City
Bobby AndrewsActor

None

4th District of Quezon City
Paul Artadi

Former basketball player

Councilor, 1st District of San Juan City – 2016-present1st District of San Juan City
Nash Aguas

Actor

None

Cavite City

Claudine BarrettoActress

None

Olongapo City

Leren Mae BautistaBeauty queen

None

Los Baños, Laguna
Angelu de LeonActress

None

2nd District of Pasig City
Ali Forbes

Singer and beauty queen

None

6th District of Quezon City
Jhong HilarioActor and host

Councilor, 1st District of Makati City – 2016-present1st District of Makati City
Aiko MelendezActress

Councilor, 2nd District of Quezon City – 2001-20105th District of Quezon City
Alma MorenoActress

Councilor, 1st District of Parañaque City – 2007-20161st District of Parañaque City
Arci Muñoz

Actress and singer

None

1st District of Cainta, Rizal
Dennis PadillaActor

Councilor, 2nd District of Caloocan City – 1998-20072nd District of Caloocan City
Vandolph Quizon
Actor

Councilor, 1st District of Parañaque City – 2016-present1st District of Parañaque City
Lou Veloso


Actor


Councilor, 6th District of Manila – 1995-2004, 2007-2013, and 2019-present6th District of Manila

Ervic VijandreBasketball player and actorNone

1st District of San Juan City
James Yap

Basketball player and former national athleteNone

1st District of San Juan City
Jomari Yllana

Actor


Councilor, 1st District of Parañaque City – 2016-present

1st District of Parañaque City

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