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THE VIEW FROM RIZAL

By DR. JUN A. YNARES

Dr. Jun A. Ynares

Dr. Jun A. Ynares

I was going around some small barangays of Antipolo last week with a handful of personnel from the city hall. We wanted to see how these barangays were doing amid the continuous downpour of torrential rains.

While we were doing the inspection, someone from the group asked me, “Are you for Julia or for Bea?”

I looked at the source of the question with amazement.  I guessed that the question had to do with what I heard was a raging feud between two lady show business celebrities and their respective camp of followers. I was amazed that in the midst of adversity, he asked me a question that had to do with supposed lovers’ quarrels in show business.

I understood that the persona who asked the question wanted some diversion from the human concerns we were trying to address.

So, I obliged. I said:

“Unless I am the reason why they are fighting, I have nothing to say regarding the subject matter.”

I answered – jokingly, of course.

The fact is I have no illusion that I am anything close to a Gerald Anderson. People say I am more of a Matteo Guidicelli. But then, I was still city mayor when they said that, so I would not give the remark much weight.

It is fascinating how interested and how emotionally involved the public can be when celebrities are embroiled in bitter feuds, real or fabricated. The fact is we do not know if the quarrel is for real. Some ask whether or not such “feuds” are merely part of a public relations efforts or of a marketing and promotional campaign for an upcoming movie or television project.

Still, people will talk about them and the supposed issues hounding the relationships they are involved with. People would speculate on the root causes of the feud. They would join the blame-game. They would take sides and create the impression that the country is polarized, with a solid divide between the camp of one and that of the other.

The latest “feud” appears to be just one of a long line of well-publicized conflicts – real or made-up- among the country’s popular stars. Our elders in Rizal province and Antipolo recall that the “country was divided” between the fans of movie queens and dramatic actresses Amalia Fuentes and Susan Roces. That was in the early 60s.

For a brief while, there apparently emerged a prominently played-out supposed rivalry between Vilma Valera and Helen Gamboa. This was the time when the country adored stars who both acted and sang. That was also in the 60s.

In the late 60s to the early 80s, it was the turn of Noranians and Vilmanians to wage “war” against each other. Later, there was the clash of fans of the Megastar and the Star for All Seasons.

The rivalries among the stars which followed more recently were apparently not as “major”. It appears the era of die-hard fans came to an end in the early 80s. Fans no longer camped at the gates of the homes of their idols like they used to in the 70s. They no longer trooped in large numbers to the premiere of their idols’ movies. They no longer chase celebrities to beg them for autographs.

Still, show business celebrities continue to compete for public attention with political and sports personalities.

Is it because they fill a void in our lives?

Is it because they live out for us what someone called our “un-lived lives” – the kind that remained only in our imagination and fantasies?

Is it because they provide us with pleasant distractions to what is an otherwise boring or painful existence?

The answer could be “yes”. Perhaps, those are the very reasons why there is such a thing as “show business”. It is the business of giving people “stars” – celebrities who twinkle and which we can gaze at amid the dark canvass of our drab, monochromatic lives.

We will have to depend on the twinkle of these stars unless we find our own North Star – the kind whose brightness give us not a distraction but a direction. Someone who won’t wow us with wayward lifestyles but who would instead show us the way.

Some 2,000 years ago, there was such a North Star who walked with men. They treated Him like a Superstar, but He was really a North Star. He said, “I am the Way”.

He invited people to “Come, follow me”.

When the adoring fans of His time discovered that He was not keen on providing them with distraction but came to save them from destruction, they hang Him on the cross. It was clear: they wanted a superstar, not a North Star.

They wanted showbiz gossip, not His Truth.

They wanted lifestyles, not the Life He offered.

Today, Sunday, we can pause and recall the invitation of this North Star. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”.

He bids us to come and follow Him.

He calls us to be followers, not just fans.

If today we hear His voice, let us harden not our hearts.

*For feedback, please email it to antipolocitygov@gmail.com or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Beverly Hills Subdivision, Bgy. Beverly Hills, Antipolo City, Rizal.

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