Beso-beso: When & how to do it

STARBYTES - Butch Francisco -
Beso-beso. As far as I know it started out as high society practice that was picked up and eventually popularized by show business.

Maybe it was this showbiz influence that prompted even the male crowd in Laguna last Wednesday to exchange beso-beso with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

I am not exactly a big fan of the President, but I think she had every right to get irked when people in the audience came up to her to kiss her – although she could have sent the message across in a nicer way.

Actually, you just don’t kiss the President (a lady President especially) even if you are female. To begin with, you can never tell what the presidential security can do to you because it’s the job of these PSG people to see to it that not just anybody can approach the President.

But back to showbiz and its beso-beso practice. Marichu Maceda claims that movie people already exchanged beso-beso in the Sampaguita Pictures compound even back in the ‘50s. (In LVN, I think Dona Sisang preferred her stars to kiss her hand — as attested by a picture in the book Dona Sisang & Filipino Movies that shows Lourdes Medel kissing the hand of the LVN matriarch).

There was an unwritten rule back then, however, that boys just didn’t kiss girls even as a form of greeting — unless they were very close to each other. But in showbiz today, there are no rules regarding beso-beso anymore and these sometimes leave ugly consequences.

I learned my lesson in a rather embarrassing way. In Startalk one time, I was asked to interview a Binibining Pilipinas winner and after our segment, I bent over to kiss her on the cheek because that’s a showbiz habit that I’ve been doing all these years and it’s an accepted practice.

But even if beauty contests are in a way related to show business (it’s a stepping stone to the movies after all), this beauty queen I kissed was obviously unaware of showbiz practices because she was taken aback by my kiss (it was actually a buzz on the cheek) and I immediately sensed her discomfort. I wanted to apologize to her, except that I didn’t want to make an issue out of it anymore (aside from the fact that there was no more time for apologies because I was already being dragged away by the floor director to do my next segment).

Immediately, I realized that I committed a faux pas there. She was a young single girl and I should not have done that. (Imagine if her boyfriend was around).

That incident, however, made me think about the absence of rules about the practice of beso-beso in show business. I therefore have some humble suggestions on how it should be practiced in this industry. (Much as I’d want to bring back the habit of kissing the hand — as in mano po — as a form of greeting the elders, that won’t do anymore in this business where people refuse to age.)

As a rule — showbiz or non-showbiz — it is the younger person who should always approach and kiss the older one. Parents of child stars should therefore train their respective kids to pay respect to everybody.

The teen set should also be aware of the fact that they should always make the first move to say hello and kiss people older than them.

Making this the accepted norm will also prevent awkward situations because can you imagine an older man reaching out to kiss a female adolescent? The young girl may cry sexual harassment even if it was just an innocent kiss from the older man.

To draw an example, I think this is how it should be: Young star Yasmien Kurdi should greet first and may even kiss Richard Gomez. Richard Gomez, on the other hand, should make the first move to greet, kiss and show respect to Gloria Romero.

Now, I said that Yasmien may kiss Richard — stress on the "may" — because it is up to her to decide if she is comfortable about kissing Richard. If it’s their first meeting, she should not. An introduction from her end and a warm hello should be sufficient. But in their subsequent meetings, she may kiss him — but only if she’s comfortable about it. (Now, I’m not saying that she should worry about Richard Gomez taking advantage of the situation because he is the perfect gentleman. We’re just using the name of Richard as an example.)

From Richard Gomez’s end — given his stature in the movies — he may also make the first move when he bumps into a showbiz newcomer who may be too shy or even intimidated to approach him. He can probably say hello or even extend his hand to the new young star.

Strictly speaking, a man should wait for a woman to extend her hand. But I guess we have to make an exception in show business because when a male star is dealing with his public, it is always a nice gesture for him to extend his hand first to the fans.

For movie stars in the same age bracket, maybe the rule here is that the boys may kiss the girls — depending on how comfortable they are with each other. Richard Gomez, for example, may kiss Janice de Belen because they’ve known each other from way, way back.

It should actually be the boy who should size up the situation because it is he who will suffer the consequences (by getting slapped? — no, that’s too much) and end up getting embarrassed depending on the reaction of the girl he is kissing.

To stay on the safe side, if you are not very close to the girl, just approach her and say a nice and warm hello.

Now, I’ve long been seeking an answer to this rather ticklish situation.

What if two women — rival movie queens of equal stature — find themselves in one showbiz affair, who should make the first move to get up, say hello and kiss the other?

There is actually no rule here yet. But if you ask me, the one who initiates the first move will get my respect and admiration. And for that, I can kiss her — but depending only on how comfortable we are with each other.

As for the other one, well, you can kiss her off my list of favorite actresses.

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