This video, courtesy of Pinoy Rickey, shows a Starstruck episode aired two weeks ago where Paulo Avelino was asked about his seeming lack of pride in his Igorot roots — in Lorna Tolentino’s words, “hindi niya ipinagmamalaki na siya ay half-Igorot.” Whether this is true or not is something we do not know but he must have given that impression otherwise the issue would not have been raised in the TV program itself. Paulo’s answer wasn’t very straightforward. But in fairness to him, Lorna’s question was also confusing. The Lorna-Paulo exchange is in the middle of the video. This was also an episode where Paulo was nearly eliminated, as you will see towards the end of the video.
ON THE SPOT QUESTION & ANSWER
Lorna: Paulo, mula nung nag-start ang search hindi mo ipinagmamalaki na you are a half-Igorot. Umaasa ka ba na dahil dito makukuha mo yung suporta na natanggap ni Marky Cielo last year?
Paulo: Hindi naman po. Actually po sinasabi rin, inaadvise rin po sa akin na sabihin ko po. Sinasabi ko naman po. Last na po na sinabi ko yung nasa Baguio, tapos eh medyo na-edit out po yata. Pero ngayon po kinakausap na rin po ng parents ko, actually….. (He gets cut off because of the time limit.)
Is it just me or is the question badly phrased and therefore confusing? Why would Paulo expect to get the support (which mainly came from Igorots) that Marky Cielo obtained last year if he has not been proud of his Igorotness? As I said, I am confused with the question so I wouldn’t be too critical of Paulo’s so-so answer. At any rate, the issue now appears to be moot. According to Paulo, he has stated that he is a half-Igorot but this was edited out and not shown on television.
Now, although we all know that Igorots do not get crazy about celebrities, I think it is good that some of us are trying to become movie/television celebrities. Why? Because Igorots in show business have the most potential in changing the negative stereotypes about us. These stereotypes persist mainly because those who hold them have not really met or seen an Igorot. If they see what an Igorot actually looks like then it is very likely that they will change their negative conceptions.
Of course, in our own little ways we can open the eyes of those we meet but our impact will be limited to the small circles we are a part of. In contrast, Igorots in show business will have a much wider audience and will naturally have a much bigger impact. So should we support Paulo because he is one of us? I say yes, if only because he will increase our visibility as a people and in the process change how others look at us. Visibility is a very important tool in combating stereotypes especially those stereotypes that have no basis in actual fact which is usually the case with stereotypes about us Igorots.
Of course, Starstruck being a talent search, we should also also ask whether Paulo has the talent. It would be embarrassing to be supporting someone merely because he is one of us even though he is not up to par with the talent tests and the competition. Thankfully, mukhang may ibubuga naman ang bata as he has been cited for his confidence in singing and his skills in acting.
So go ahead and vote for Paulo here. Hindi ka naman siguro mapagkakamalang fanatic. He he. If he wins and have a long showbiz career (rather than just 15 minutes of fame), you will have done your part in increasing our visibility as a people which, at the risk of sounding repetitive, is very important in changing the negative stereotypes associated with us Igorots.
UPDATE: Sandati makes several points on this issue and comes up with the same conclusion that we should support Paulo. I pretty much agree with his/her assessment. S/he also raises a very important point about the role of parents in keeping our culture alive: “Our elders worry about annihilation of Igorot cultures if those in power submerge our communities by building dams, but in their very homes they kill a facet of the culture/s they want to preserve by not teaching their kids at least ten Kankanaey/Ibaloi/etc sentences?” Read the entire article here.