The Manila Times : Bashing Toni Gonzaga likely counterproductive

14 February 2022

By The Manila Times

PEOPLE should stop bashing actress Celestine "Toni" Gonzaga-Soriano for associating with a certain political camp. We also reject criticisms that she somehow betrayed her former employer, ABS-CBN, by introducing a senatorial candidate in a recent political event. This is a free country, and political differences are no reason to be uncivil toward anyone.

Ms. Gonzaga started courting controversy when she interviewed former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who is running for president in upcoming elections, on her YouTube channel. Some talking heads at ABS-CBN referred to it as propaganda. They ignored the fact that the actress had earlier interviewed other presidential candidates, including Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo and Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domogoso.

Recently, anger boiled over when the actress hosted the kickoff political rally of the Marcos camp. She even introduced one of his senatorial candidates, whose chances of winning, it should be noted, ranges from slim to none. Despite his dismal showing in the surveys, people were uncharitable to that would-be poster boy for ivermectin, who voted not to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN.

Unsurprisingly, Ms. Gonzaga resigned from her network where she hosted a popular show. She exited gracefully, and good for her.

We disagree with those asserting that she owed her former network something or that she betrayed it somehow by accepting a new gig. If anything, Ms. Gonzaga is a victim like the many others displaced by the nonrenewal of ABS-CBN's congressional franchise.

The bitter reality is that people lost their jobs because the owners and management had failed them when they allegedly violated the 1987 Constitution and other laws. The jobless were collateral damage.

If anything, ABS-CBN should be thankful for talents like Toni Gonzaga. That network profited from its celebrities, and rightly so, they were compensated handsomely in return. That had been the setup that made the Lopez clan fabulously wealthy and politically powerful for decades after World War 2.

Fortunately for Ms. Gonzaga, her talent is portable. She does not deserve to be criticized for taking on another job; nor should she be vilified for exercising her freedom to make political choices.

Leave her be. Those who remain upset ought to reflect on why they harbor so much negativity.


Perhaps, fewer people would feel agitated by Ms. Gonzaga's personal choices if Mr. Marcos was doing poorly in the surveys. But they should be less concerned about who's leading and who's lagging the presidential race since the campaign just officially started.

Harboring hate is not only unhealthy, it is also corrosive to the fabric of society. Democracy can deliver disappointing outcomes. There are bound to be losers in any activity that proclaims winners. What should matter more is that the election process is fair and free of mischief, and that the transition of power is peaceful.

The critics of Ms. Gonzaga and rivals of Mr. Marcos would probably be more persuasive to voters if they spent less time vilifying those in opposing political camps. Explaining and promoting their chosen candidate's platform and suitability for public office would be a more productive use of their time and resources. And if they still fail to get their message across, blaming others just seems foolish.

Also, demonizing rival political camps is not always effective. Apparently, that tactic can repel people, especially when they are accused of doing something sinister like revising history.

Some are turned off by the suggestion that history is black and white. This can even come across as propaganda. Besides, the truth is often complicated, and this applies to the era when the father of Mr. Marcos was president decades ago.

For some voters, there may be issues more relevant than history. And to understand sentiments better and bolster their chances at winning, candidates might want to listen more and talk less.

Certainly, every candidate deserves to be heard. But no one should expect unanimity in people's judgment. People are free to make their choices. Like Ms. Gonzaga, they deserve the right to decide whom to work with or whom to support in the coming elections.

The alternative is not merely unfair. It is also undemocratic.