MANILA, September 27, 2003 (STAR) One upside of being transfixed by the story of Kris and Joey is that more Filipinos appear to have become aware of sexually transmitted infection or STI and the problems of battered women. The truth about the quarrel between two of the nation’s most popular entertainment personalities may never be established in a court of law; as of yesterday Kris Aquino was laying down conditions for settling the tiff out of court. But in the court of public opinion, the youngest daughter of former President Corazon Aquino appears to have the upper hand, with Parañaque Mayor Joey Marquez unable to satisfactorily establish his innocence. People tend to believe that Kris is a victim of physical abuse and that she contracted STI from a promiscuous lover.

Thus women’s groups are hailing Kris for speaking out and setting the example for others who are scared or ashamed of seeking help for physical abuse. Meanwhile, the Department of Health reported yesterday that calls are pouring in from people asking for information about STI. Health personnel and people working with battered women should not let this heightened awareness go to waste. Physical abuse of women cuts across income and literacy levels, but those who find themselves in the direst straits are often the poor and un-dereducated. With the intense public interest in the plight of Kris Aquino, it will be easier for the government to reach out to battered women, informing them of their rights and how to seek assistance against abusive men.

Congress must also do its part by passing legislation that will discourage such physical abuse. No need to summon Kris and Joey for yet another congressional inquiry in aid of lawmakers’ re-election; the problems of battered women are well documented. A strong message must be sent to all the male chauvinist Neanderthals out there – that under certain circumstances, abusing someone’s love is not a purely private matter but a criminal act.


MY friend, Butch Franco, and I were having a late night snack at Coffee Beanery at Greenbelt 3 last Wednesday night after watching the Australian film, "Lantana", when another friend called me to make sure that I don't miss Channel 2's "Insider" to see the dramatic mother-and-daughter scene of President Cory Aquino and her daughter, Kris.

She asked if I watched the 6 p.m. TV patrol and I said I was doing an interview. "You missed a lot," she told me, proceeding to enumerate the shocking revelations of Kris Aquino like her having contracted STD (sexually-transmitted disease), her squeezing Joey Marquez' genitals, etc. etc.

I made it home towards the end of "Insider" when Kris, without her usual glamorous makeup, was looking at the TV camera telling Marquez, "Anak ako ng dating presidente, anak ako ng bayani na inassassinate."

I caught the scene where Cory Aquino embraced her prodigal daughter under the blazing light of TV cameras. It was showbiz all the way.

My sister-in-law was glued to the TV even if she had seen the interview by Korina Sanchez earlier on "TV Patrol". After "Insider", "Special Assignment" hosted by Luchi Cruz carried the same interview.

Yesterday, I turned on the radio and it was still the Kris and Joey telenovela. My friend Chit Estela said that same interview was again in the morning TV shows. Talk of overkill.

Yet, we also watched.

We had a field day exchanging text jokes about the misery of Kris and Joey. The latest I got was, "Tingnan mo an litrato ni Ninoy sa P500 bill. Nabubura na sa laking kahihiyan sa ginagawa ni Kris." (Look at Ninoy's picture in your P500 bill. It's vanishing. Perhaps in Ninoy's emabarrassment for what Kris is doing).

Sociologists have an explanation about the public's fascination with the scandals involving famous people. It makes us feel good to know that these "perfect" people have feet of clay. Perhaps a lot of battered wives in the depressed areas now feel better identifying with Kris Aquino.

Or maybe we are getting a diversion, free entertainment, from our frustration over the corruption and incompetence in government. It's a true-to-life telenovela. Or it's like watching a freak show.

The sickening thing about the latest in the Kris and Joey telenovela is that, it has brought out the worst in us. And this has been done with ample assistance from us in the media, television most especially.

The Aquino family, not sparing the former president, cannot be blameless in making their private scandal a national spectacle.

It was reported that when Kris Aquino went to PACER in Camp Crame, with high-powered company in the persons of her brother Tarlac Rep. Benigno Aquino, Jr., Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, lawyers Rene Saguisag and Raymond Fortun, PNP chief Hermogenes Ebdane who dropped whatever it was he was doing (which we presume had something to do with reducing crime in the country) and attended to Kris Aquino's complaints.

He was quoted as having said that he had to do it because Kris is a daughter of a former president.

We would like to think that persons who are more blessed than others, like being a daughter of a former president, have a duty to mankind to use that privilege to make life a little better and not to deprive others of public service for their own self-inflicted troubles.

Another journalist friend said she had welcomed the entry to Philippine showbusiness of Kris Aquino and others from the so-called "buena familia" thinking that they would give class to the highly-influential industry, which caters to the masses.

Not only has it turned out that these showbiz "royalties" have as much class as the street hookers but they have, through their celebrity, displayed their decadence to prime time national audience.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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