Ethics

Notes on the Kris-James-Hope Saga
POSTED BY || 7 April 2007

An ‘investigative report’
Notes on the Kris-James-Hope Saga
By Elvira Mata

I MISS Kris.
She stopped hosting her daily TV shows when she came to her senses and announced in early March that she would take a break from showbiz and have her baby like normal people do—full term, in a hospital, and, hopefully, without TV coverage.
The seven months pregnant Kris said in a  statement: “I now say a temporary goodbye to all of you. In the coming weeks, my one focus is to be the best mom I can possibly be to Josh and his baby brother. The only way I can succeed at this is to leave the spectacle behind me and totally retreat from the public eye.”
The spectacle being the alleged affair between her husband, cager James Yap and Hope Centeno, a former receptionist at the Belo Medical Clinic, who, before she was let go, scheduled facials and scrubs for VIP clients. The scandal had taken a toll on Kris’s health. She was rushed to the hospital twice in one week due to premature labor pains.
As I write this, looking for Kris has become the “sentiment ng bayan.” And it’s only been three weeks since she announced her temporary leave from showbiz. But you see, before taking a break, she had appeared on TV (ABS-CBN) seven times a week: Pilipinas, GAME KNB? which aired lunchtime, Kapamilya Deal or No Deal, shown at dinnertime and The Buzz which gave meaning to our otherwise dull Sunday afternoons.
Edu Manzano, who took over Kris’s hosting duties on Game KNB? (Kapamilya Deal or No Deal just ended its first season), is a witty and capable host. But my house help doesn’t find his wardrobe as fascinating as Kris’s glittery outfits with the plunging necklines.
Ruffa Gutierrez, who’s now hosting The Buzz is a riot, but not quite as annoying as Kris. Why, on one Sunday, she even allowed guests, like her mom Annabel Rama, to answer a question. That would never have happened if Kris were hosting the show. I mean, does anyone remember the exclusive James Yap interview on Rated K which turned out to be a Kris Aquino monologue? Hosted by Korina Sanchez, it aired on ABS-CBN on Feb. 25 which interestingly enough, was the 21st anniversary of People Power.
The day before, which was a Saturday, Lolit Solis interviewed Hope, whose face was hidden from the camera, on Star Talk. On Sunday, the woman who claims to have had a 10-month affair with Kris’s husband James finally showed her face!
I was shocked. Hope wasn’t nearly as pretty as Kris. To borrow a line from the Professional Heckler’s blog, “she needed a facial.”
Hope’s exposè quickly became conversation fodder at the office water cooler, the beauty parlor, and several blogs. People wondered why her pet name for James was Big Bird, whether it was possible to go “all the way” in those tiny cubicles at the Belo clinic, and more importantly, could a facial every week be good for the skin?
I decided to play investigative journalist, called Belo Medical Clinic at their Timog branch (where the facial, scrub, etc., allegedly took place) and made an appointment. Now na!
I was told to come late in the afternoon. One client did not confirm her appointment and I could have her slot. Great!
Good thing I had a pimple under my nose that needed professional popping. They would never think I was having a facial simply to check out their cubicles.
Ricky Lo had a tour of the now-famous Belo cubicle. In his March 2 “Funfare” column for The Philippine Star, he wrote: “[It] is one of about eight located on the second floor, measuring no more than 6 by 10 feet and equipped with high-tech gadgets. The door, with partial glass cover, remains ajar and unlocked throughout the scrub, the cubicles are well-lighted so from the narrow corridor, you can see the shadows of the people inside.”
Ricky also quoted owner Vicki Belo: “It’s impossible for what Hope alleged to have happened to be done inside the cubicle without them being noticed.”
So there I was in one of the cubicles, waiting for my facialist to give me a glycopeel cleaning and to pop my pimple. The room was exactly as Ricky described—it was small, it had equipment that included a tiny bed, lamp and steamer. There was also a sink and, yes, the door had a partial glass cover.
During my 30-minute facial, the door remained closed and the room was dark, save for the light on my face (the better to see my blemishes). My facialist could have slit my throat if she wanted to, and no one would know, except for the mess I would leave on the floor.
As for the premise that the cubicle was too small for anything other than a facial or a scrub, I disagree. I have seen smaller spaces in inner cities (squatter areas) that housed a family of four plus lolo, lola and the family cat.
I left the clinic with zero zits, face glowing and satisfied with my findings. Maybe next time, I’ll try the micropeel.
The following day, a receptionist who identified herself as Nikki sent me a text message, inquiring about my skin. “Hope ur ok. Pls advise.” Hmmm. This was probably how it started with James and Hope. I decided to save my text message, just in case I get a phone call from Lolit Solis.
I wonder how many people had booked facials at the Belo clinic to play CSI? I wonder when Hope will join Pinoy Big Brother or perhaps host her own talk show? I wonder why we are so fascinated with Kris Aquino?
Honestly, I’d rather watch Kris tell the world she was not only threatened with a gun by ex-lover Joey Marquez but that he gave her a sexually transmitted disease than hear or read news reports that one out of five Filipino families go hungry, that the Philippines is No. 1 in corruption in ASIA, and that nothing has been done about the spate of extrajudicial killings.
Kris is the best reality show on TV because like the game shows she hosts, she takes chances.
Kris is our very own Paris Hilton. Which reminds me: in February, the Associated Press made this unusual experiment: for one week, they did not put out a single word about Paris on the wire.
They wanted to see “what would happen if [they] didn’t cover this media phenomenon, this creature of the Internet gossip age, for a full week?  Would anyone care? Would anyone notice? And would that tell us something interesting?” the AP reported after the weeklong ban.
“It turned out that people noticed plenty—but not in the way that might have been expected. The reaction was to the idea of the ban, not the effects of it. There was some internal hand-wringing. Some felt we were tinkering dangerously with the news. Whom, they asked, would we ban next? Others loved the idea. ‘I vote we do the same for North Korea,’ one AP writer said facetiously,” the AP reported.
I think local media should do the same with Kris. But it should be permanent.
But I already miss Kris.

Elvira Mata is a copy editor for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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