In a celebrity-crazed country like the Philippines, show business is said to be the most convenient jump-off point to politics. You are given credence simply for being popular. While this is partly true for Herbert Constantine “Bistek” Maclang Bautista, better known as Bistek, being an artista also served as a challenge for him to prove that he’s more than the komikero and underdog roles he has portrayed on television and in movies.
Some of us probably remember him as Napoleon Guidote in the comedy show, “Kaluskos Musmos,” in the late ’70s; as Reneboy, brother to Janice’s character in “Flordeluna;” as Bistek in the BBC 2 TV series “2 + 2;” as one of the stars of the 1980s hit Bagets; as Teng-Teng, the junk collector who transforms into muscled superhero Captain Barbell; and as Jill, the gay sibling of Sharon Cuneta in the movie Jack and Jill. These roles and more, he has essayed during his career as an actor, spanning almost 40 years.
The transition from show business to politics almost comes naturally, says the Quezon City mayor, who is serving his final term. He says it’s probably because he was raised by his parents, Butch and Baby Bautista, in a very Pinoy culture—helping the disadvantaged. In his growing up years, he was also surrounded by people who are known for being charitable—Dolphy, Erap, and FPJ—among his dad’s barkada. “What I learned from them is that: your left hand doesn’t need to know what your right hand is doing,” he quips in the vernacular. In other words, you don’t need to broadcast the good things you are doing to others.
“Papa, Erap, and FPJ were together in Lo’ Waist Gang, when they were 19 years old. They were really friends. So when we were born—me, Gracia, Jinggoy, and JV—we would see each other at family gatherings. Then eventually, I co-starred with Sharon, who is the niece of (Senator) Tito Sotto and now the wife of (Senator) Kiko (Pangilinan). Sharon’s father, Pablo Cuneta, was Pasay City mayor,” Mayor Herbert ruminates on the showbiz-politics connection.
He admits to feeling offended when people say, “ahhh taga-showbiz lang `yan” (he’s just from showbiz). To people who look down on people from the entertainment industry, he says: “You don’t know the backbone of the entertainment industry!”
Mayor Herbert argues that show business has in more ways than one prepared and molded him to become a good public servant. One of the virtues he gleaned from show business is inclusivity—encouraging teamwork to achieve a common goal. “I was trained in an industry where everyone listens to the director, where there is a production manager who takes care of the location, an assistant director who takes care of the shot list, a scriptwriter who takes care of the script, and so on. I was trained to be inclusive,” he says.
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