Public service is not a competition for fame, fortune and power

Sports, entertainment and politics are today’s favorite springboards to fame, fortune and power. These three occupations or vocations have become similarly attractive that some have been successful in all three or two of these lucrative callings.

The best example is Manny Pacquiao who is an icon in boxing, a franchise owner in basketball, now a much sought-after lead actor in movies and now a senator and eagerly eyeing the highest office.

Joseph “Erap” Estrada successfully toyed around with the people’s idolatry for movie stars that he parlayed his box-office appeal to get elected as mayor, senator, vice president and, eventually, president.

The late Fernando Poe Jr. would have been a more luminous political figure than Joseph had he won the presidential derby in 2004. His daughter, Grace Poe, gracefully stepped in, won a seat in the Senate and even aspired to be president.

A number of other movie celebrities won elective positions while some politicians married the most popular and beautiful actresses. Kiko Pangilinan and Sharon Cuneta. Richard Gomez and Lucy Torres. Chiz Escudero and Heart Evangelista. They are among the most prominent crossovers.

Nothing is wrong with embracing two or more occupations or callings if one is qualified and capable with them. What is sad and regrettable is that those who intermingle these three vocations is creating a culture alien to our cherished values and beliefs. Most of those who are now glittering in these three fields of human enterprises are hardly worth emulating.

First of all, most of the movie stars and sports celebrities who entered politics are not qualified for the positions they sought. Many lacked the credentials to occupy a high and powerful public office. Some even have the temerity to get recycled or reelected. Others made the positions their private preserves. They bestow the positions to their children or their wives as if these were family heirlooms that can be inherited.

Since they enjoy similar hobbies, vices, and habits, these prominent personalities readily engage in illicit relationships. A few end up in marriages. But infidelities are not uncommon. They also find it sporting to hurt each other’s feelings.

Every day, the newspapers, magazines, airwaves and social media give prominence and belligerence to stories about the top celebrities, including rumors about family quarrels.

The most startling news today is Manny Paquiao’s being eyed to star in a biopic on former Senator Macario Peralta Jr.

Even if he is financing or producing the project, it will be a demonstration of hubris, ego-tripping, and indiscretion for Senator Pacquiao to portray the life of a legendary military figure and former senator even if he is occupying the same high office.

The late Senator Macario Peralta Jr, who was dubbed as ‘Chocolate Soldier” was a tall, dark and handsome man who walked with the dignity of a respected military officer. He organized and lead the guerrilla units in Western Visayas during World War II. His legendary exploits in the resistance movement reached the attention of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and who elevated him to the rank of general in the military service. He was chairman of the Philippine Veterans Board which was created right after the liberation of the Philippines.

Pacman will be a miscast in this projected biopic. Senator Peralta was taller than Pacquiao and much more eminent than he is as a member of the Senate.

As secretary of national defense during President Diosdado Macapagal’s regime, Peralta undertook the conversion of Corregidor island into a national shrine. He was also responsible for the transfer of the remains of the Unknown Soldier from Intramuros to the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Makati.

As a boxer, Manny Pacquiao will always be remembered and revered as a national treasure for his legendary and extraordinary courage in the ring. It is an honor much more prestigious than being president. And he himself is perhaps conscious that he might not be as capable and competent in running the affairs of an entire nation than in winning the crown in eight boxing divisions.

With the country floundering on the high seas, buffeted by strong winds of graft and corruption, drug infestation, and moral decadence, our luminaries in sports, entertainment and politics should seriously review their positions in national society, come to terms with their limitations, and hole themselves in where they excel.

Nation building is a cooperative endeavor. Not a competition for fame, fortune, and power. 

Ernesto Banawis is a former general manager of the Philippine Information Agency and a veteran advertising and public relations executive.

Topics: Ernesto Banawis , Manny Pacquiao , Joseph Estrada , Fernando Poe Jr , Philippine Veterans Board

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