Besides having Enchong Dee (right) as endorser, Samira also had a friendly meeting with Robin Padilla and was a consultant on the films Bagong Buwan and The Sarah Balabagan Story
Samira Gutoc and her showbiz connections
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - April 18, 2019 - 12:00am

She had us with her “Hello!”

We at the Entertainment Section recalled that famous line from Jerry Maguire (starring Tom Cruise and Renee Zelwegger) when Samira Gutoc dropped by to say “Hello!” with a big smile last month when she and some members of the Otso Diretso team came for a session with STAR editors and reporters. If memory serves, I think she’s the only Muslim (and a woman at that!) running for senator in next month’s midterm elections.

Had a survey been done during the few minutes she stayed in our room, I bet she would have topped it hands down. All because of that sweet hello and that sweet smile.

You wonder, how did Samira land in this paper’s Entertainment Section? Well, she has actually a lot of showbiz connections that more than qualified her to be here ­— that is, aside from her formidable curriculum vitae and myriad achievements.

She’s being endorsed gratis et amore by Enchong Dee who posted this on his Twitter account: “Ang swerte ng bansa natin na may kandidato tayong katulad ni Gutoc. It’s time to shine a brighter light on our brothers and sisters in Mindanao.”

On his Facebook account, Robin Padilla posted that he would vote for Samira but not campaign for her because of their political differences, Robin being a staunch DU30 believer while Samira is on the opposite side.

“I’m thankful that he would say he would vote for me, openly, maybe because he is also a Muslim,” said Samira who disclosed that she asked Robin for advice before she agreed to be part of Otso Diretso (a grouping of candidates from different parties).

“Had he decided to run,” surmised Samira, “the Muslim voters would have flocked to him instead of to me, hahaha! So I asked for his advice and when he said he wouldn’t run, it was parang, ‘Sige, go ahead!’”

A Maranao civic leader and peace-builder, Samira obtained her degrees in Communication and Master in International Studies at the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman, law degree from the Arellano School of Law and a fellowship at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies.

She is a Marawi siege evacuee (bakwit), a former Bangsamoro Transition Commission member and former ARMM Assemblywoman. As a senatorial candidate, she’s running on a platform anchored on her long-standing advocacies: peace education, rights of women, children and Muslims, and monitoring of Marawi rehabilitation. “Mindanao is critical (in the elections) because it’s the land of promise, and there’s never been a Marawi girl who won in the Senate.”

On why she’s so outspoken, contrary to common perception of Muslim women as “conservative” and “timid”:

“Maybe because I grew up with foreigners, ‘yung upbringing abroad. I grew up in Saudi for 15 years because my parents were diplomats. My father, at least, Candidato Gutoc who started as foreign service officer 1, 2, 3… he was a career diplomat,” she said, adding, “I also studied in UP.”

The campaign has brought her back to her hometown, as well as to markets, OFWs in Hong Kong, to the Muslim traders in Port Area, near the STAR office. It has been a punishing campaign that made her lose a lot of weight (but taking Berroca and salabat keeps her healthy) and where she has encountered all sorts of reactions, including those who don’t care, but the wooing of voters has to go on.

“We have to go beyond singing a song and dancing. We try to change the way it’s done although each one of us has celebrity endorsers.”

Before becoming active as a civic leader and now throwing her hat into national politics, Samira was a newspaper journalist for seven years.

She isn’t stranger to the movie industry. She was once a student of Ricky Lee and became a consultant to films like Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Bagong Buwan (2001, also co-written by Ricky Lee) about the Muslim rebellion and its impact on the civilians, and Joel Lamangan’s The Sarah Balabagan Story (1997), a biopic on an OFW who was sentenced to death in the UAE.

She is aware that a film is being made on the five-month-long siege in 2017 that caused unimaginable loss and damage on her hometown, Marawi City. She hopes the film will also feature local heroism.

“We would like to ask Direk Joyce (Bernal) to also honor the locals who helped the Christians kasi parang nakita sa Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK) na hindi daw masyado na-appreciate ‘yung local heroism ng mga locals,” said Samira. “So parang feeling nila it wasn’t even as truthful daw, and since Maute group is Muslim…parang nag-condone pa daw ‘yung locals, so we’d like to see those other stories…that the locals also helped in protecting the Christians who were escaping the war. So sana po mga ganung inspiring stories.”

A little brother for Zia

Zia, Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera’s daughter, now has a little brother who will call her ate. Zia is turning four years old in November. Named Jose Sixto IV after his father who is Jose Sixto III, the boy was delivered by Caesarian section at 1:35 p.m. last Tuesday, April 16, at the Makati Medical Center. In his IG account, Dingdong wrote that Marian labored for 10 hours. He revealed no further details as of press time.

*  *  *

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

DINGDONG DANTES MARIAN RIVERA SAMIRA GUTOC
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