I heard you intend to run for the Senate. As someone who had done that and shall be forever done with it, allow me to share some unsolicited advice —
1. Be afraid. Be very afraid of sycophants and so-called image-stylists who asks you to say “fuchsia” instead of “pink” to turn you into what you aren’t. To thine self, always be true. If you meet these know-it-alls, just nod politely and move on.
2. Seminars and degrees matter little if you can’t speak your mind and make sense while doing so. Ask yourself this – if you were one of the senator-judges in the recent impeachment trial, how would you have voted and why? Tougher questions will be thrown at you. When you don’t know the answer, please revert back to advice # 1.
3. Money matters. If you don’t have it now, you won’t have it ever unless you are in the top five of all senatorial surveys. I learned that the hard way. Good intentions and a sound advocacy will and can get you only so far. You’d still need to hire campaign staff, print out volumes of leaflets, fling baller IDs without flinching, and buy astronomically-priced airtime for TV ads that are but two-winks quick. So yes, if you don’t know enough rich people known to finance candidates, don’t run. And even if you do, don’t expect them to open the vault upon your say so.
4. Be the element of surprise. Intellectual snobs and pundits will pillory you for even daring to dream of becoming a senator. I’m sure you’re getting all sorts of feedback this early. Don’t take this personally. Pinoys make fun of everyone. It’s our thing. But given such low expectations, you could be the element of surprise. Search inwardly for experiences that you can share with women, moms, daughters, and sisters. Politics is a wicked world. Unless you have a cause much bigger than yourself to fight for, be prepared to wilt in the presence of those who do. Why do you want to run? If you can’t explain it to yourself, then there is little chance you could convince others.
5. Enjoy the journey! As a celebrity, you will likely get pinched, touched in indiscriminate places, visually devoured and be the candidate most tweeted about. Suck it up and enjoy the journey. No one pushed you to run. It was a conscious decision. The upside is that you have the packaging that draws crowds and media attention. That is also your downside. No one can ever lay claim to being the candidate with a celestial face and such un-Blackberry curves. Live it! Embrace it! Enjoy being on the road, meeting big and little people, and commanding the stage not as a performer but as a national figure (no pun intended). Grow with the dream and come out of it a better person.
The thing is you do have a right to run. That’s what democracy is about: free will and more choices. But because of who you are and what you’ve done in the past (sexy roles and very public relationships), you’d have a bigger battle getting people to take you seriously.A practical tip – try to spend a week in Twitterland just to have a taste of what you’re in for.It is inevitable that your showbiz colleagues will be asked about you. Any hidden skeletons? Everyone has one, or two, and probably more. It helps to have good friends to vouch for your character and competence. Get them to rally behind you. Or maybe even in front of you.
Final piece of advice — women will expect more from you because you represent our sector. If you don’t even know what the debate over the RH bill is all about, or understand why “kasambahays” need their own law – then maybe you should start reading up, and talking to exceptional women leaders. Your party may be using you to re-energize its base. The earlier you realize that, the quicker you dispense with those rose-colored glasses. In showbiz, when people use you, it’s often for profit. In politics, when people use you, it’s to crumple your soul. So beware of gods bearing gifts – like a lonely slot in a token slate.
Good luck. Stay true. Be brave. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Susan “Toots” Ople