Briones: Financial support

Please explain to me the Filipinos’ obsession with beauty pageants.

So the country has been recognized for being the home to “beautiful” women several times. But did these recognitions address the social ills that continue to plague our society? Did their victories alleviate hunger or poverty? Never mind that 99 percent of the Philippine population don’t bear any resemblance to the winners, some of whom even have foreign-sounding last names.

But we live in a democracy. And people are allowed to go gung-ho for competitions that focus on the physical attributes of contestants.

Normally, I let them be. Who am I to rain on their parade, right? Right. But when I found that Cebu City will provide financial and technical support to newly crowned Ms. Universe Philippines Beatrice Luigi Gomez and Ms. World Philippines Tracy Maureen Perez, who will represent the country in international pageants later this year, I’m like “I don’t think so.”

I have nothing against Gomez and Perez. Should they be congratulated? Of course. Commended even. But here’s the thing, the City Government didn’t twist their arms to join the pageant.

Let’s face it, they were probably thinking about the opportunities that would open to them if they won, not to mention the financial gain. They didn’t enter the competition so they could solve the problem of homelessness in the city or provide food to the hungry. Not that I’d expect them to.

When I got nominated for best supporting actor at the Famas, TWICE, the plight of the poor was farthest from my mind. Had I won, I figured I’d be able to demand a bigger talent fee because there’s a reason actors like me are called “indie” actors, with “Indie” standing for “(H)indi malaki ang bayad.”

Of course, if I get nominated again and actually come home with a trophy, I will mention Cebu in my acceptance speech because I’m proud to be a Cebuano. But only after thanking God, my family, my manager, the people who work in the production and everyone else who believe in my talent because you need talent to get nominated and not looks, although it would be nice to have both.

And here’s the thing. I won’t expect a single centavo from the Cebu City Government. But if City Councilor Joel Garganera, in a privilege speech, will insist on giving me a 700ML bottle of Glenfiddich 18-year-old single malt Scotch whisky, who am I to say no?

Seriously, though, I don’t think Gomez and Perez do either. And I apologize for dragging their names in this column because my beef is not with them. It’s with the City Government for not getting its priorities straight.