Doppelganger

Rosita of PDALucy Liu

A couple of weeks ago my cousin was here for dinner and her sons glued themselves to the TV while us oldies sat around the dining table chitchatting about the latest family news. Suddenly, the boys started ooohing and ahhhing over a mestiza girl crooning on some singing show. When I asked them who it was, they told me it was Irish, a Filipino-American from California, one of the contestants of ABS-CBN’s Philippine Dream Academy. She was pretty enough (although, I thought, a tad over-rated. She seems prettier because she’s half white) and could sing, but she was not interesting enough to stop any of us from hearing the latest gossip from my cousin.

Several commercial breaks later, the boys started hooting again, but this time out of disgust. “Ka law-ay man gid sa iya.” (She’s really ugly) said one, “Ngaa ari pa da sya?” (Why is she there?), asked the other in Ilonggo. Their angry protests broke our little party and we were forced to look at the telly again. What was all the fuss about? I stared and saw this tiny, fragile-looking, morena, belting a classic Filipino song. I did a double take, not because she was a particularly good singer or a beauty, but because she looked exactly like Charlie’s Angel Lucy Liu. Okay, she’s not attractive as Lucy, but she could be her twin—the one who was given up for adoption and grew up poor, while her sister was raised in luxury in the US. Someone should cast these two in a sappy telenovela!

I mentioned the similarity to the boys and they both howled and declared that I was not only blind but was also insane. Hey, if you look past her bad skin she really does look like Lucy and could even be called pretty. She could look better though if she gained a few pounds. She looks like she could break into pieces if she stood next to Regine Velasquez, as the Philippine songbird screeches one of her signature songs. I honestly think that, given a chance, Rosita (La Pinay Lucy), would brush up well and could look even more like her long-lost twin.

According to my nephews, Rosita was the most controversial competitor in the group. Apparently, she was very annoying and difficult to handle. She was prone to bickering with the others and would have crying fits. The people were also unwelcoming to her because she was uncouth and quite gruff. She became an interesting specimen to watch when a short video of her was shown—she came from a very underprivileged family, was from Dubai, and worked there as a domestic helper. She almost failed to enter the competition when her boss would not let her go. Whoa. What a story. And I thought I was creating a telenovela for her.

When I asked the boys if they thought she was going to win, they looked at me with exasperation and said I should really have my head checked. Hello, there is no way in hell she would win. Why not, I asked them. She’s still there so she must have a strong following. She’s a good singer. Would people boot her out because she was difficult? No, they answered. She will not win because she’s ugly.

Their logic irritated me, but at the same time I understood their point. She’s dark, short, and un-lady-like. For most Pinoys, that means panget (ugly). She seemed insecure, even. She can sing better than the others, but she didn’t have the star power to back up her talent. I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad for her and secretly wished that she would win. I wouldn’t go out of my way to vote for her (I haven’t even watched an episode since then!), but it would be nice if someone like her would win. She still could, you know. She is the underdog of the bunch, the champion of the masses… she could even be the next Superstar! She does have the Nora Aunor aura about her, so the people might actually vote for her just because they feel she is one of them. It has happened countless of times in the past. Who knows, right?

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