There has been something of an informal practice with fans of Philippine showbiz personalities to find commonalities between them and foreign celebrities. It may be attributed to the sentiment of “colonial mentality,” but sometimes that is how it goes. Gary V once got counterpart comparisons to the late King of Pop Michael Jackson, for example. Reactions of Filipino stars can range from positive to negative. Recording artist Rico Blanco, formerly of rock band Rivermaya, has recently expressed a pushback against this habit, alleging that Filipino celebrities are personalities in their own right and should not be compared willy-nilly to foreigners.
So did Rico Blanco express his thoughts on Twitter, according to ABS-CBN News. He had taken exception to a fluff entertainment article on PEP.ph where he was labeled on the headline as the “Keanu Reeves of the Philippines,” due to his current looks and hairstyle being similar to the actor and his most recent popular character “John Wick.” He had expressed his advocacy in that article that the Filipino fan habit of star equivalency like saying “Sarah G is the Philippine Adele” should not be encouraged. On social media following the prominence of that showbiz article, he expressed his concern that the headline might pass him off as sounding combative.
He did have some valid arguments in not being a fan of foreign artist comparison. Regarding his own equivalency with Reeves, Blanco asks, “How many gigs has he played? How many Hollywood blockbusters have I starred in?” His Twitter commentary admits that the “stupid” headline of the PEP.ph article might be enough to “get him in trouble” with certain fans. The once-Rivermaya member remarks that he is embarrassed by whatever gossip storm he may stir up with his commentary but is firm that celebrities in the country should not be just “versions” of overseas talent.
Fortunately other Filipino Twitter users have expressed their support for Rico Blanco’s sentiments. In doing so, they also lambast the stereotypical “colonial mentality” of their countrymen who have “inherited” from their ancestors the opinion that foreign and imported cultural touchstones are better than local varieties. Such internalized opinions come from the Philippines having been a Spanish colony for over three centuries, an American colony for several decades, and a Japanese conquest for a few years.
Blanco has been in the OPM industry for over two decades himself, with the prominent part being his membership in Rivermaya which produced numerous popular songs and is considered a pioneer in the development of the local alternative rock scene.
Image from The Filipino Times