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The political actors

All the world's a stage,/And all the men and women merely players:/They have their exits and their
entrances...—William Shakespeare

PEOPLE Magazine, the magazine of people who like people, recently voted British Prime Minister Tony Blair one of the ''50 Most Beautiful People in the World.'' He shares the limelight with actors, sports figures and celebrities in one form or another. For those who deplore the proliferation of show-biz personalities in the political scene, Tony Blair's status suggests that the highest honor a politician can get is to be counted among the heroes of our time.

These heroes are loved and sung not for any perfection, except possibly physical, but for minutiae of their lives: their amorous escapades, their diets and their illnesses, and the persona that their performances and media have given them. They are larger than life, reflecting our dreams and desires for fame and fortune.

It's no longer a surprise that these heroes and heroines find it natural to strut on the political stage as an extension of their role-playing. But why not? Politicians themselves make themselves up for the roles they want to play as leaders, though few make it as statesmen, such as reelectionist Sen. Blas F. Ople. Not that statesmanship is a common goal of politicians. Most do not care what they're called for as long as they remain in power.

Actors as politicians is neither a transition nor transformation. It's just a matter of moving into a larger stage. Ramon Revilla, who is most certainly going to be reelected, and son-in-law Jawo, do not find a ''career change'' an agonizing experience. Standing tall and silent, Revilla looks more like a dignified
senator than some senators. As for Jawo, his televised remark on his agri-ideas-"soil-wise, weather-wise and otherwise''--didn't hurt his intellectual image one bit.

It may be unusual that the articulate in the reel life are inarticulate in real life, but then politics, for all its realism, is not always true life. Consider Erap's one-liners. They are vintage
Reagan, Filipino-style.

All that's needed, it seems, is to reverse certain habits. For example, in the present campaign, it's not the actors who sing and dance on the stage, but the ''serious'' politicians. It's not the actors who are confused but the politicians.

Moreover, the actors' record in politics is not all that bad. Sen. Vicente Sotto III, plagued by charges of drug connections, still tops the Senate list, way ahead of his ''prosecutor'' Teofisto Guingona. But this can't be attributed to this matinee looks alone, for his campaign pamphlet shows his authorship of 60 bills enacted into law, and innumerable local bills that have made an impression on provincial voters. Guingona, on the other hand, had very little to show before he abandoned the Senate for an executive post. Nevertheless, the voters feel that they both deserve to be in the Senate, except that Sotto gets the highest number of votes.

Freddie Webb is likely to fall from grace, however, while Revilla's son, Bong, will make it as Cavite governor against veteran Renato Dragon. In the comparison of accomplishments, the young Revilla gets the edge. On the other hand, Parañaque Mayor Joey Marquez may just have to go back to pure show biz due to the perception that brings down most politicians: corruption. As publicists of former Mayor Pablo Olivarez put it: ''For entertainment, they can watch Tsong's movies; for a better
life, they need Olivarez.'' 

Local contests are more interesting.
In Caloocan, Aurora Henson is going back to Congress with the support of both Lakas and LAMMP partisans, while in Sorsogon, Francisco Escudero is running ahead in the first congressional district--a ''compensation'' perhaps for his father Sonny's inability to get into the Lakas Senate slate?

The stage, like the wheel, turns, some fade away and others return. But there are also newcomers like Juan Pablo ''Rimpy'' Bondoc in the fourth congressional district of Pampanga. Young and bright in spite of a Harvard University (yes, the Yard) education, he is regarded as a ''promising political star'' undaunted by his opponents' money.

Another newcomer is banker-economist Ray Orosa, who is running in Quezon City's third district under Mayor Mel Mathay. Still other newcomers are in the lone districts of Marinduque, Southern Leyte and Pasig City: Bernie Jambalos, Dong Saludo and Raul Victorino, a long-time associate of former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga. The House of Representatives will likely have media man Butch Pichay of Surigao del Sur.

It's good to know that Mayors Edward Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa and Kate Gordon of Olongapo will continue their good work as the country's leading ''green executives,'' recognized by the UN and Unesco respectively. And despite the malevolence of his opponents, Mel Mathay will remain mayor of Quezon City.

Toting Bunye of my own backyard will be missed, as he's running for Congress. My shameful ignorance of my city, Muntinlupa, is reflected in the fact that I only know that Jhun Carlos of Reporma is the candidate for mayor, since I was sent his campaign pamphlet. I wish I had more knowledge of my own community, but hey, nobody's perfect.

Philippine Daily Inquirer

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