We often hear of celebrities, usually movie and TV actors, running for public office. And if they ever win, their acting stops there. Naturally. Their craft has no place in the higgledy-piggledy world of politics.
But Pagsanján Mayor Girlie “Maita” Ejército beats them all: she makes use of her craft that has been in the back burner for years.
Not many people today know that she used to be an actress back in the 90s. Once known as Maita Sánchez, she wasn’t as popular during that time compared to her contemporaries because she usually played minor roles, as a character actress, much like her now esteemed husband, La Laguna Governor Emilio Ramón “E.R.” Ejército (son of the late actor George Estregan and nephew of former president Joseph Estrada). She was further relegated to obscurity when she became a full-time housewife (a mother to four children), hiding under the shadows of her relatively well-known husband who, like her, played supporting roles and cameo appearances. Using various screen names from Jorge Estregan to George Estregan, Jr., Governor Ejército’s salad days in cinema wasn’t that delectable as well to moviegoers for he usually accepted roles as a notorious villain in many action films.
But it was during their later years when they achieved mainstream success albeit in a different industry. The movie villain changed his one-dimensional persona and somehow managed to make himself one of the best and efficient mayors in the entire history of Pagsanján. When his term came to an end, he ran for a higher position, winning the gubernatorial seat by a landslide in the last 2010 general election.
Governor E.R. wasn’t the only Ejército who was victorious during that election year; his wife stood tall beside him. Breaking out from obscurity, Mayora Maita (as she is fondly called nowadays) successfully snatched the mayoralty seat of the same town that her husband had administered for a full nine years (2001-2010). Aside from other duties as a public servant, she now continues various projects and programs which were started by her husband. One of these projects is the annual Bangkero Festival, a tribute to the boatmen of Pagsanján (Bumbuñgan) River.
The “Pagsanján Bangkero Festival” is held every first week of March. The Tagalog term bangkero pertains to the people whose job is to provide transportation over sea or river through a bangka (boat). Welcoming summer, every first week of March, Pagsanján, Laguna celebrates its Pagsanján Bangkero Festival and is fast becoming popular through its lined-up exciting events on both land and water such as the Palarong Bangkero, street dancing contest for students from different schools dressed in colorful costumes swaying to the upbeat music, drum and lyre band competition, choralefest cultural night, trade fair, sports events, and many more.
—From the town’s official website—
Actually, the spelling should be banquero; but what the hey, my animosity against today’s mangled orthography will have no place in this blogpost at the moment. ) Anyway, as I was saying…
And then came last year’s multi-awarded action-art flick Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story. Governor Ejército won not only the prestigious Best Actor’s Award in the recently concluded Star Awards for Movies last 14 March, he also inadvertently won an audience who is not in-the-know about the province he is governing whenever he is away from the glitter of showbiz (trivia: some scenes from Manila Kingpin were shot in Pagsanján).
Last month’s Bangkero Festival (March 27-31) was extra special — a music video entitled Bangkero, Lahát ay Masayá was launched during the five-day event. Created by prolific TV/music video director Louie Ignacio, the music video is another lasting tribute to the sturdy boatmen of Pagsanján River who bring excited tourists to a pulse-pounding ride of their lives to catch a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of the world-famous Pagsanján Falls tucked deep in the forests of nearby Cavinti.
This medium is one-of-a-kind because, to the best of my memory, this is the only music video which serves as a town’s promotional material and at the same time the performing artist is none other than that town’s chief executive herself! And yes, Mayora Maita can sing, even hitting that coveted high note, her voice effortlessly joining the mellifluous yet upbeat tune that was composed by prolific songwriter Marizen Yaneza.
In the words of Ronald Yu (publisher/editor/photographer at In-Frame Media Works), this music video will serve as a for other municipalities and cities who might take that extra step to promote their respective turfs’ tourist attractions (I try to imagine Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim belching out a tune to promote Intramuros, and then I start to weep). Why, it’s not everyday that you’ll encounter your town/city mayor doing a catchy music video for the sake of their town’s local heritage.
This is simply pure genius.
Check out the awesome video below!
Artist: Pagsanján Mayor Girlie “Maita” Ejército
Composer: Marizen Yaneza
Director: Louie Ignacio
Watch out for cameo appearances of Governor E.R. Ejército and the holy image of the town’s patroness, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.
This music video is being blogged in celebration of LA LAGUNA The Festival of Life whose soft opening falls today. Come celebrate with us and enjoy La Laguna’s best!
Watch out for Mayora’s next video. It’s guaranteed to give you an idea of how María Maquiling looks like!
“(La) Laguna is the number one province and best place to visit, to invest in, and to live in.”
—Philippine Information Agency—