Showcasing Pinoy Pride and Nationalism in Showbiz
Pinoy pride is celebrated in films and musicals, but there are more ways to show your love for the Philippines. Girlie Rodis shares how.
I am writing this column after I learned about the death of former Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” C. Aquino III—known to most as Noynoy or PNoy. News about his passing saddened me, most especially since I knew him personally.
Back then, I met PNoy when I managed his youngest sister Kris Aquino. Since show business and politics in the Philippines are closely entwined, I would still see him even when Kris was no longer my talent. But what started a piece for a dear friend soon became a look at Pinoy pride and patriotism.
Remembering PNoy’s Legacy
The PNoy I knew at gatherings was a low-key, but friendly person. He obliged in selfies and short chats—much like the time I bumped into him at the 2019 birthday celebration of sportsman and trader Sebastian “Baste” Chua in Gloria Maris, Greenhills. Even during brief encounters, you could still feel his sincerity and simplicity. He treated people equally, whether you were an ordinary citizen or Barrack Obama himself.
Other people could say negative things about him or criticize his administration. Still, PNoy should be lauded for the economic and sovereign gains that the Philippines achieved while he was our head of state. However, his greatest legacy, in my opinion, was the dignity he accorded to the Office of the President during, and more so, after his term.
PNoy did not hang on to power. He did not move into a mansion after his presidency ended. He went to live a quiet life. Without a doubt, PNoy loved the Philippines.
Honoring Jose “Pepe” Rizal
On the topic of Pinoy pride, Jose Rizal is a Filipino whose patriotism is beyond question. This gleamed in his books, his writings, and his travels. But even more so through the services that he rendered as a doctor and educator during his exile in Dapitan. Rizal’s life and his love for the Philippines then inspired us at Culturtain to produce a stage musical about him.
I have often said that Ang Larawan is my favorite among the musicals we have produced so far; however, our Rizal musical entitled Sino Ka Ba, Jose Rizal? also holds a special place in my heart. We presented the latter at Rizal Park to mark the hero’s death centennial. And our stage was where Concert at the Park (a popular outdoor event featuring a band or an orchestra) used to be held.
Sino Ka Ba, Jose Rizal? was open and free to the public. Nestor Torre—the playwright, director, and newspaper editor who passed away this year—directed it for us. Ogie Alcasid played Rizal, while Mikee was Rizal’s true love, Leonor Rivera. Meanwhile, Rachel Alejandro took the role of Josephine Bracken, Rizal’s common law-wife in Dapitan. Also in the cast were Bituin Escalante, who portrayed Sisa from Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere and a young Sam Concepcion who played Little Pepe.
Working on this project stirred a sense of nationalism in everyone involved. I was particularly impressed with how Ogie—a known singer, and comedian—transformed into a serious actor. His dedication to his role really blew me away. I guess it was because Ogie was inspired by Rizal’s life and personality.
And why not? After all, Rizal was the real OG. He was honorable, open-minded, intelligent, and hardworking. Rizal possessed good traits that all of us should emulate.
When we hear news about corruption and killings, or when we witness bullying and trolling both online and in real life, it’s easy to think that a love for the Philippines and for fellow Filipino is non-existent. But I believe that patriotism is innate in everyone. The fervor may just fluctuate.
In my case, I am able to nurture my patriotism through my growing pride in the creative Filipino artists that I’ve been fortunate to work with. Meeting and working with National Artists such as Nick Joaquin, Rolando Tinio, and Ryan Cayabyab; working closely with OPM artists like Celeste Legaspi and Rachel Alejandro; traveling with Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski when she joined international equestrian competitions; watching performances of world-class Filipino talents like Lea Salonga; bringing Ang Larawan The Movie to international filmfests; seeing the country’s beautiful sights—these are some of the experiences that strengthen my sense of being Filiipino.
How can one not love the Philippines and the Filipino people when there is so much to love? You don’t have to be a president like PNoy, or die for your country like Jose Rizal to show you care about the land of your birth.
Just exercise your right to vote and vote wisely. Check the candidate’s character very well. Check on their record of integrity, their financial background, and accomplishment history. We cannot afford to elect officials who have no history of service and no sense of patriotism, even more so a lack of love for the Philippines.
We need good leaders and we need them, now.