Sotto: From Show biz comic to Senate President
Being known mainly as one of the Escalera brothers in the juvenile TV sitcom “Iskul Bukol” was a compliment, newly elected Senate President Vicente Sotto III said, explaining how such sticky association had led people to take him less seriously in his latest political role.
“That was how good we were as actors and comedians because until now, people could not move on [from our characters],” Sotto said at the Kapihan sa Senado forum on Thursday.
In the prime-time sitcom that ran for decades, Sotto played Tito Escalera, who plots harebrained schemes that often got him and his brother, Joey Escalera, played by Joey de Leon, into trouble at the fictional Wanbol University.
Acting as their more sensible foil was Vic Ungasis, played by Sotto’s real-life younger brother, Vic Sotto.
The three actors were also known collectively as the comic trio “Tito, Vic and Joey,” who played their schoolboy antics in several movies.
His show biz persona so eclipsed his public image as an elected official that he had decided to quit hosting the noontime TV variety show “Eat Bulaga,” Sotto said.
“I might not be able to host [the show] not only because of [my] work [in the Senate], but I’d [also] like to make sure that people would not associate us with the TV show in the meantime,” he added.
According to Sotto, “Eat Bulaga” is a “public affairs program masquerading as a noontime entertainment show.”
Dole for ‘poor’
For one, the show’s “Sugod Bahay” segment features the TV hosts going to different barangays in search of “the poor” to whom they give dole, he said.
The show also has the hosts paying people P500 for plastic trash that, in turn, will be recycled as classroom chairs, he added.
“But people do not see this,” Sotto said. “What they see is our comedy.”
The newly minted Senate President said not everyone knew that he had authored significant pieces of legislation, including the law that established the family court, the seat belt law, the law against illegal drugs, and the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Code.
“Do [people] know I am the author [of these laws]? Most likely they don’t. What they remember is the Escalera brothers,” Sotto said.
“As far as public service is concerned … my record will speak for itself,” he added.
Focus on job
His goal, Sotto said, is to focus hard on his job in the Senate instead of paying attention to his bashers on social media.
While he considered the bashing he has been getting since being elected Senate President as “natural reactions to public figures,” he described many of the criticisms as “silly accusations and fake news.”
“I don’t mind them anymore, I will remain positive and will not pay attention to these distractions,” he said.
Sotto said he would introduce changes in the Senate, including starting the session at exactly 3 p.m. from Monday to Wednesday, and devoting the Thursday morning session to local bills.