You know I was honestly pleasantly surprised at Vicky Belo for once, that Sunday when she dared say the unsaid, joke or otherwise, about competition and advertising. Because in recent years, since the whole beauty industry became all-powerful and all-encompassing, we have been bombarded with images that want to make us believe that everyone is equal where a cosmetic surgery and a beauty clinic are concerned. And while this all seems like the best thing to say, it is absolutely false. The inequality is even more clear when you put the billboards side by side:
Boy Abunda is obviously at the center of the “To C is to Believe” — a campaign that’s about looking at the physical (not at all about inner beauty, as Abunda says), and seeing what the clinic has done for Abunda among the many artists on the billboard. It is clear too, that if seeing is believing, than there is nothing more believable than Dingdong Dantes‘ body on the Belo billboard. Aminin nating lahat na yummy lang siya. At aminin natin that there’s nothing on the Calayan billboard that will catch our fancies, other than, well, the fact that those faces are familiar, and that we see most of them on TV everyday — a bombardment as well of the Calayan enterprise.
Looking at these now, I think that if there was anything wrong with what Belo said, it’s that this was a false comparison, seeing as in terms of age, sexuality, and yes, looks, Abunda is not in the same league as Dantes or Piolo Pascual. If comparison was the point, then Belo could’ve dealt with this billboard instead of Abunda’s:
At aminin ulit nating lahat, na yummy ang mga boys na ito (Rafael Rosel just makes me swoon, I swear!), and they are who the Calayans are pitting against Dantes. The difference of course, is that none of them are near as famous as Dantes (or Pascual for that matter).
Here is where Abunda could have graciously accepted the fact that he isn’t in the same league as Dantes in terms of looks, yes, but in terms of fame, apparently so, at least for the Calayans. I imagined that Abunda was going to take this jab at his looks as a matter of course. He allowed himself to be put on a billboard, alongside so many others where heterosexual/metrosexual kaguwapuhan is the point. He sells a cosmetic and beauty clinic. He should’ve been prepared for this kind of backlash. For someone who dishes it, who asks difficult questions of artists, this should’ve been a question he knew to answer: what is your right to be on a billboard?
To which Abunda could’ve said: because I am revolutionary, this is the only time that an average looking person is allowed to be on a billboard that speaks of beauty.
Then we wouldn’t be siding with Belo now (check out the comments here), and thinking Abunda petty and immature. Then we would also have a more intelligent discussion about advertising and beauty, and the whole capitalist enterprise of these clinics — Belo, Calayan, and otherwise.