Oh Kris!
- Doreen G. Yu () - February 12, 2012 - 12:00am

Cover photo by Mark Nicdao

 MANILA, Philippines - When The Philippine STAR began publication over 25 years ago – on July 28, 1986 – it was a six days a week paper, since our founder, the late Betty Go-Belmonte, insisted on a day of rest as the Christian faith mandated.

But when the clamor for a Sunday edition mounted, Betty decided, instead of a regular issue, to have a news magazine-type edition on Sundays. Thus was born STARweek, with its first issue coming out on February 14, 1987. It was on broadsheet format, and contained summaries of the news of the past week, as well as feature stories and columns.

On our first cover was Kris Aquino, youngest daughter of then President Cory Aquino. It was Kris’ 16th birthday, and she was on the threshold of a career in show business.

Kris Aquino with her mother President Corazon Aquino. Val Rodriguez/Star

Although she was the youngest of five children, Kris was easily a standout. At age seven, when her father, the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., ran in the 1978 parliamentary elections, it was Kris who stood in for her imprisoned father at campaign rallies, wowing the crowds at every stop. She even made it to the front page of the New York Times and Time magazine.

She joined her family in exile in Boston when Ninoy was finally let out of prison to seek medical treatment in the US, and the family spent several happy years there, even as Ninoy made the rounds rallying support for the anti-Marcos movement.

In 1983, Ninoy decided to return to the Philippines, despite warnings from the Marcos government that there was a plot to assassinate him. He was indeed gunned down at the airport even before he could set foot on Philippine soil, but not by “communist assassins” as claimed by the government.

Kris came home with Cory, her three sisters Ballsy, Pinky and Viel and brother Noynoy, and was a strong if precocious figure at rallies against the Marcos regime. She was then 12 years old.

Then the 1986 People Power revolution, which 26th anniversary will be marked later this month, happened, Marcos fled and her mother Cory was president of the Philippines.

Her brother President Benigno Aquino III (left) and the Aquino family at Malacañang after his inauguration.

Through all these upheavals and historic events, Kris was a dynamic presence – articulate, forceful, convincing, at ease in the spotlight, unperturbed by all the attention. It was no wonder then that she would gravitate towards show business, and despite her mother’s – and perhaps the rest of the family’s – objections, she made her first television appearance in 1986, and even starred in a short-lived comedy show that bore her name.

Fast forward to a quarter of a century later, and Kris is one of the hottest, most sought after celebrities in town. She has a string of television talk shows (the most successful of which was “the Buzz” which she co-hosted on and off with her best friend Boy Abunda for ten years) and game shows to her name, as well as a magazine, “K The Kris Aquino Magazine,” chronicling her style, her personality and her lifestyle.

Her movie career started in 1990 with the comedy “Pido Dida,” a blockbuster that saw her crowned box office queen of the year. While her acting has not always drawn rave reviews, she did get the critics’ nod with a nomination for “The Fatima Buen Story.” In 2002 she picked up a best supporting actress trophy for “Mano Po,” Regal Films’ commercially successful series about a Chinese-Filipino clan.

President Cory is joined by her children and grandchild Joshua as they view the bloodied clothes of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. at the exhibit at the Aquino Center. Val Rodriguez/Star

She has had more hits than flops, with the 2006 horror film “Sukob” becoming the highest grossing Filipino film.

What accounts for her celebrity though is much more than television and movies; it is, to a large degree, Kris herself. Then presidential daughter, now presidential sister, TV host, actress, campaigner, product endorser (she is ranked number one among celebrity endorsers), you may love her or hate her, want her out of the country for the duration of her brother’s presidency or can’t get enough of her... Kris Aquino is an unmistakable force, a presence in Philippine life that cannot be ignored. As we started our publication with her on our cover, we are marking our 25th year with her again on our cover, this time with her sons Joshua and Bimby, in this photo taken exclusively by Mark Nicdao for STARweek.

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