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Sharlene San Pedro focuses on celebrity bashing online in study

Charmie Joy Pagulong - The Philippine Star
Sharlene San Pedro focuses on celebrity bashing online in study
The former child star Sharlene posts this photo on Instagram to mark her 18th year in the industry.

MANILA, Philippines — Sharlene San Pedro just finished her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology course from AMA University Online Education. It “hasn’t sunk in yet” and she is still on cloud nine following her recent academic milestone.

In an exclusive virtual chat with The STAR, the former child star generously gave an account of her educational endeavors and music career.

But first, she expressed her gratitude to her parents, relatives and professors, who helped her complete her thesis titled In the Limelight: A Phenomenological Study on the Social Media Bashing Experience to the Emotional Health of Selected Public Figures. When pressed for her grade, she shyly answered, “1.25.”

She chose the research topic because it is close to her heart and relevant to the industry she belongs to. In fact, the informants for her paper were her colleagues in showbiz.

“They (bashers) looked at public figures or celebrities na parang walang nararamdaman (as people with no feelings),” said the 23-year-old actress-singer. “Just because you’re in the limelight, it seems OK for them to judge you whenever they want to. But that’s not the case. They are also humans. They also feel emotions. Aside from the judgement in showbiz, they also have their own problems outside showbiz.”

Most of the celebrities were greatly affected by the bashing, her study showed. But they realized that these bashers have no control over their lives. “Nandiyan lang yan kasi matapang sila dahil may screen,” she explained. “We don’t know the bashers. That’s why they’re so bold in passing judgment. Social media bashing can be lessened by pressing on the mute button, mute the words, etc.”

Sharlene further urged her colleagues to use social media for common good and set an example for their fans, saying, “Kapag may na-experience sila, (they should give information) to their followers na ganito dapat ang gawin natin na ‘wag tayong masyadong manghusga. Especially in the industry (where) fan-based groups are really competitive to the point that it gets personal.”

“These followers would follow what you say. So kung sasabihin mo sa kanila na, ‘Guys, ganito, may nararamdaman din mga yan.’ Di natin alam na baka naapektuhan yung kinakausap mo ngayon,” she said and stressed, “Think before you click. You should think it over before you say anything because pwedeng hindi lang yun yung makakita, pwede pang may ibang makakita kahit zero followers ka.”

On a personal note, she had her own previous encounter with bashing because she changed her style. “Malala po kasi to the point that they thought they can make decisions over my life. My private life, that’s the only thing that I’ve left for myself but tinitingnan pa rin nila, they would still judge you. Nag-co-conclude pa rin sila,” she shared.

“The way I dress, my hairstyle, my actions, style, parang lahat gusto nila (pakialaman). Tapos ‘pag hindi nasunod, parang kasalanan mo na hindi mo sinunod,” she lamented.

It’s like a love-hate relationship with some of her followers, she admitted. She would assure them that “it’s just work.”

“You can’t control a person because she is in the limelight,” she added. “That’s when the bashing started in my case. Dahil hindi ako sumusunod sa halos gusto ng mga ibang supporters ko. Parang sabi ko, if you really support me, kung ano yung makita niyo na gagawin ko, (you have to accept it). I’m very open to any improvements but not to the point na i-ibahin nila kung sino ako. It’s impossible, it’s no longer (my) authentic (self).”

To the bashers, she said, “Whatever you say, it is still me who will decide for myself.” To her “super competitive supporters,” she really appreciates their support, “Wala naman ako kung wala sila. But for me, think first before you say anything. Dapat ang mga sinasabi natin ay yung makakapag-correct din. Kunwari may kaaway man sila, i-correct niyo. Pero ‘wag niyong awayin. Kumbaga, pangaralan niyo lang… That’s why I am super proud of my fans who defended me nung dinamay ako, pero hindi sila nakipag-away.”

Sharlene was not spared from the Marites culture online. Few months ago, she called out a social media personality for dragging her name into the relationship of basketball star Ricci Rivero and Andrea Brillantes.

“Ba’t ako nadamay diyan? We were just promoting our movie (with Ricci). It was funny, lahat ba ng artista na nagkaka-partner (in movies), nagkaka-something talaga sila? Hindi naman. For me, work is work. I don’t like the fact na tuloy-tuloy siya sa ginagawa niya. Walang nag-ca-call out,” she explained her reaction.

“Parang tsismis ang puhunan mo para maging relevant ka in the industry. That’s how I look at it. Paghirapan mo naman. You pry into the personal lives of other people. Kalalaki mong tao, dalahira ka (laughs),” she continued.

According to Sharlene, the same person commented about her “living a lonely life in Quezon City (QC).” “I got paranoid because I was alone in a coffee shop in QC at that time,” she recalled.

“When I called him out, parang na-shake siya,” Sharlene went on. “He deleted all his posts about me.”

Her piece of advice to celebrities or public figures who are victims of the Marites culture is to speak up and clarify things right away. “Linawin mo kung anong nangyari kasi alam mo parang kung hindi mo siya i-ca-call out, magtutuloy-tuloy yan,” she said.

She also asked netizens to be careful about what they read online, especially if the information has no credible source.

Although overposting on social media is not really her thing, she doesn’t judge the public figures who often post online because it is their “way to express themselves.” She added, “Expect lang na laging may masasabi at masasabi ang mga tao, they will always react.”

Cancel culture is something that she does not agree with. “What if you cancel a person, pero nag-spe-speculate ka lang pala. There’s no confirmation. For me, OK ang cancel culture if that person did something really wrong. But if you cancel a person dahil may ilang beses ng nasabi tapos he admitted his wrongdoing, who are you to cancel at para manira ng career ng isang tao na pinaghirapan niya ng pagkatagal-tagal,” she shared.

“Use cancel culture sa taong deserve ma-cancel talaga. Hindi yung isang mali lang ng tao, then he said sorry and apologized, i-ca-cancel mo na agad. If that person already knows his mistake, hindi po talaga OK for me yung cancel culture,” she concluded.

Meanwhile, after her single Running, Sharlene is up for another track under the record label Yellow Room Music.

She also formed a band along with other artists from the same music label. Her dream collaboration would be to release a powerful song with alternative rock band Mayonnaise.

The former Goin’ Bulilit star also wants to take on more challenging acting roles in the future and perhaps pursue a Master’s degree. In the meantime, expect more music from her anytime soon.

SHARLENE SAN PEDRO

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