When looking at the celebrities of Philippine showbiz, can you avoid the Hollywood comparisons? Too much fun?
Anne Curtis = Angelina Jolie
John Lloyd Cruz = Johnny Depp
Kris Aquino = Oprah Winfrey
Robin Padilla = Tom Cruise
Vice Ganda = ?
And then there’s Vice Ganda. No answer? Walang sagot?
Who is Vice Ganda?
For the few foreigners out there who don’t know Vice Ganda, here’s an introduction. Vice Ganda is a successful comedian, talk show host, actor, singer and dancer in the Philippines (1). He is the most followed man on twitter in the entire country, and currently third overall (2). Vice is the lead star of the highest-grossing Filipino film of all time (3), and third of all films ever released in the Philippines; which is another way of saying, all of Hollywood could make only two films Filipinos wanted to see more than Vice(3). Considering how much Filipinos love all things American, that is impressive. And since 2010, Vice already conquered Facebook with the first Philippine fan page to hit 1,000,000 (4).
The Most Openly Loved Gay Man
in the Entire World?
Any Filipino will tell you,”he’s the most popular gay man in the country.” I’ll go a step further and ask you, “Is there an openly gay man more openly loved than Vice in the entire world?
Proof? Now that we live in the age of Twitter, there’s no need to wonder. The famous and their followings are as measurable as twitter trends and twitter followers.
There are in fact openly gay men in showbiz with more followers than Vice Ganda, all of 5 people in the entire world(5). And all of the five have the undeniable advantage over Vice of an English-speaking fan base (the number one @Ricky_Martin has the even bigger advantage of an English/Spanish-speaking fan base). English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world(6); Filipino is not. The more you compare actual proportions, the more impressive Vice’s following gets. With a Philippine population of 93.3million and Vice Ganda’s 1.4 milllion, 1 out of ever 66 people in the country follow Vice on Twitter(7). With 3.8 million fans on Facebook, 1 out of every 24 people in the country are his facebook fans. And believe it or not, there are actually Filipinos not on Twitter and Facebook, yet. If you now assume we’re comparing gay show biz personalities to their language-demographic on social media, then yes, Vice Ganda is the most loyally followed Gay man in the world.
This of course makes the respective fan base of Philippine twitter’s most followed Anne Curtis and second-most followed Angel Locsin all the more impressive. But, is it a surprise when natural beauties become popular, star in box-office hit films, and launch concerts? Were you ever expecting an “unkabogable” gay man to make it in one of the most conservative parts of the world?
What other country in the world can claim their most followed man on twitter is openly gay?
To the point, the Philippines love Vice more than any other country loves any other openly-gay showbiz personality.
The Philippines do have the second biggest Asian population of English speakers(9). And like all Filipinos, Vice does speak English. It makes you wonder, how would Vice do in Hollywood?
Today’s Trend or History-in-the-Making?
Vice Ganda is the first of his kind, openly gay and openly loved. Compared to the narrow mold of Philippine showbiz, this just can’t be emphasized enough.
Every actor and singer in the country knows their biggest source of income is endorsements(14).
Naturally, they need to make themselves as innocent and commercially-loveable as can be. But can you blame any one of them for being careful when careful dictates their annual income? Their every choice matters–from the friends they make to who they date. They avoid rubbing the wrong people the wrong way. They watch their every step like their career depends on it; and truthfully, it does. The smallest scandal has ended more than one career(15) (16) (17).
In comes Vice Ganda. His mere existence breaks all the rules. He teases everyone in sight, but they’re laughing too hard to mind. Vice is a social phenomenon..the first of his kind..a true exception. Anne Curtis and Angel Locsin are well accomplished, but Vice is accomplishing something on a level never before seen—ever. He proves an openly gay man can not only just make it in showbiz; He can strike universal appeal. He can win the heart of an entire country.
A question worth considering, why are we seeing this in the Philippines of all places?
Is Vice Ganda Really Reaping the Rewards?
Vice Ganda must get some satisfaction in looking at his twitter feed. But, Twitter doesn’t pay the bills.
Remember this equation:
Majority Income for Philippine celebrity = Product endorsements
When product endorsements make up the income for a working celebrity in the Philippines, you would think the most followed man on Twitter/Facebook in the country would be the biggest endorser in the country. No, okay. You would think after the same man starred in the biggest blockbuster of Philippine history, he would at least be in the top ten list of endorsers, right? No, okay. Well, where is Vice then?
According to YES Magazine’s release of the highest paid 20 Philippine endorsers of 2011, well, Vice Ganda isn’t even on the list(18).
Is there an income disproportion fans might want to know about?
Tell Vice What He Deserves Yourself
You don’t have to be gay to appreciate Vice Ganda’s presence in Philippine showbiz. On top of making life a little easier for an under-represented gay minority, he speaks to the young, to the outsider, to anyone looking for a laugh, and just about anyone who ever wanted something less predicatable from Philippine showbiz.
There is no papparazzi like the Philippine tabloids. As the first openly gay mainstream showbiz personality in national history, Vice underwent his fair share. But just how important are the judgments made of Vice? Sometimes, the biggest “chismes” can make national headlines. But in the grand scheme of things, history won’t remember today’s most-talked about scandal. A hundred years from now, will anyone remember today’s roster of Philippine celebrities? I like to think so. But, I don’t have to wonder with Vice Ganda.
So, here’s the million-dollar question:
After the country has chosen Vice, how long will it take for product endorsements to do the same?
I’m an artist. I expect to die before I ever get rich and famous. I like to think Vice will get what he deserves while he’s still alive.
What do you think Vice deserves? Tell him yourself. It only takes a twitter hash tag:
And if you really want to be heard, everyone knows you need to say it at the same time. So, why not try? What about 3pm Saturday? Maybe Vice will notice. Maybe not. Hey, there’s no harm in trying. Make it an early birthday present!