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Sheer star value no longer guarantees victory at the polls

/ 08:16 PM June 14, 2013

Time was when sheer star value practically guaranteed victory for popular celebrities running for public office. Joseph Estrada, Ramon Revilla, Bong Revilla, Lito Lapid, Vilma Santos and many more stars surged to electoral success, with Estrada eventually making it all the way to the presidency before he was summarily impeached.

For her part, Santos is tapped by some political pundits to run for VP the next time around, with possibly Bong Revilla as a rival.

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More selective

So, the “magic” still works for some, but significant stellar losses incurred in the recent polls indicate that the voting public has become significantly more selective, and its adulation of entertainment luminaries isn’t as addled and automatic as it used to be:

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Alfred Vargas made it, but Aga Muhlach and Christopher de Leon didn’t. And, Lou Veloso failed to pass muster as reelectionist Mayor Lim’s vice—but, surprised even himself by racking up more than 200,000 votes.

So, what do these changes mean for prospective stellar candidates in 2016? They have to run less whimsical and more politically savvy campaigns, leave less to chance and popular “clout,” and have more to offer than just the desire to serve—on wings of promises, prayer and “face value.”

The model of choice for all this is Vilma, who launched her political career many years ago as mayor of Lipa City, learned the ropes along the way before slowly but surely prepping herself to successfully move up to governor of Batangas province.

Since then, she’s been biding her time and sweetly warding off speculative talk about running for senator or VP in 2016. But, the consistently upward trajectory of her political career indicates that she will indeed aim for a national post the next time around.

Observers note that, being a popular star with a nationwide following, she would have an edge over other some upwardly mobile “national” political hopefuls.

Ambition

Indeed, the most sanguine of her “unauthorized” supporters believe that even the presidency could be within the scope of her ambition, given more time to further expand her electoral horizons. —But, that’s in the even more distant and speculative future!

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What about the prospects of other stellar hopefuls? The most dramatic denouement could involve new Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. If he does spectacularly well at his new post, he could be persuaded to not make it his “last hurrah,” as earlier avowed, and instead use it as his springboard for a renewed and reinvigorated bid for higher  office.

Does that sound like the plot for a fantasy film? Stranger things have been known to happen in the roller-coaster, harum-scarum world of Philippine politics—where, instructively enough, politicians and show biz luminaries make not so strange and in fact rather chummy and cozy bedfellows!

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