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Kung ang HIV celebrity endorsers ay tumatanggap ng TF, are they real ‘advocates’?

Celebrities are being tapped to promote causes, including by extremely well-funded NGOs in the LGBTQIA and HIV advocacies. But if your celebrity endorsers accept talent fee, are they still “advocates”?

Photo by Ron Lach by

We have seen celebrities being “tapped” to promote causes; some of the extremely well-funded NGOs (in the LGBTQIA and HIV advocacies), in fact, use these celebrities to both highlight issues and – let’s be blunt here – to popularize themselves (i.e. that they are “supported” by popular people).

This is why it’s a big deal in the HIV community when the crowned winners of Binibining Pilipinas moved from the Positive Action Foundation Philippines Incorporated (PAFPI, which was a partner organization in 2017) to The LoveYourself, Inc (TLY, which became the go-to organization of past winners including Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray).

The use of non-members of the communities that need representing is, in itself, an issue; or at least it should be. Seriously, if you need Heart Evangelista to wear a rainbow pin (accompanied by an IG post) before you support LGBTQIA human rights, then… you’re a sucker (and I don’t mean that in the – good – sexual way).

Because this “approach” says you only follow what popular people tell you, instead of doing something because it’s what’s right. And in the case of LGBTQIA people themselves, because the issues at hand personally affect you (and not necessarily the celebrities promoting them).

But this is why you have organizers of LGBTQIA “Pride” that focused on heterosexual celebrities, and NOT LGBTQIA people. Celebrity culture elevated over LGBTQIA human rights ang peg.

Gawain ito ng ilang NGOs para sa (Some NGOs do this for) marketing – i.e. use celebrities. This is “beneficial” for both, obviously; NGOs get media mileage, and celebrities create a “kind” persona (for many beauty queens, with the impromptu “partnership”, they auto-gain an “advocacy”, no matter how fake).

TRUE STORY: A few years back, an HIV community-based organization applied for funding to develop a project responding to the mental health needs of PLHIVs. They were rejected by the funding NGO (that did NOT know anything about HIV, and yet were given control of the money – and thus direction – for the HIV community). Instead, this same NGO gave money to hold a photo exhibit, mainly of “big people” who supposedly “support” HIV advocacy in the country. So money was NOT given to PLHIVs to answer an urgent need; instead, money was given to photographers, make-up artists, videographers, caterers, studio, and TF (talent fees). The first model of the photoshoot, BTW, was the one who approved this project.

The big, BIG question now is this: if your celebrity endorsers accept TF, are they still “advocates”.

Definition-wise (as my partner pointed out), they DO qualify for simply “publicly advocating about an issue”. But in the REAL sense of the word, are they really advocates? Kung pino-promote mo lang kasi binayaran ka para gawin yan, endorser ka na, hindi advocate (If you’re only promoting something because you’re paid to do so, you’re an endorser, not an advocate).

Pero andaming implications nito (But this has lots of implications).

  • The one promoting your cause is a fake, and may just be using you and your cause for money.
  • The one paying for the faux advocates are, themselves, fake, who can only gain traction through marketing, and not actual best practices.
  • Money is “wasted” on marketing (e.g. aside from the TF, the videographers, make-up artists, photographers, et cetera), when the amount can actually benefit the people who need the money most (in HIV, the PLHIVs themselves).

Gamitan is real sa celebrity culture (Using one another is real in celebrity culture).

And those who solely favor this approach should be called out not only for promoting celebrity culture when it’s the affected who should be highlighted. Andami pa ring namamatay sa HIV, halimbawa, at nagsasayang pa rin kayo ng pera since famewhoring pa rin ang approach mo (Too many people are still dying from HIV, as an example, and yet you’re still wasting money since the only thing you know is famewhoring).

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Tama na ang (Enough of) fake advocacy, please.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia; and Master of Development Communication from the University of the Philippines-Open University. Conversant in Filipino Sign Language, Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, and research (with pioneering studies under his belt). He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Art that Matters - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).


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