Respect begets respect

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Respect is hard to come by these days. It has such become a rarity that to see a person shine bright like a diamond, refusing to be cast in the dark, fighting against popular opinion and idolatry, gives one hope that all is not lost.

Chai Fonacier is among those standouts in social media who just refuses to be silenced. Her Twitter handle @rrrabidcat is among the most fearless celebrity accounts in the social microsite.

She will not back down on things she believes in. It takes courage for her to do that given that she moves in a circle where being agreeable and favorable will easily work to her advantage.

Her being vocal about her love for her sun-kissed skin, her standing up for basic human rights and her voicing out her opinion on important political issues that besiege our land should be a standard for a person with influence. Ironically, her haters and bashers are as rabid as her name.

Chai, the Cebuana who is currently making a name for herself in the independent film industry, refuses to back down.

“I don’t know if this will bite me in the ass but right now I feel like it’s important for me to say something,” she answered. I caught her at the After Party of the second Eddys held last Monday at The Theatre in Solaire.

And back down she didn’t, and she did it with such eloquence that will put her multitude of bashers to shame.

“I’m here to catch my own award now,” she jested, referring to her own Best Supporting Actress plum for her role as Bechay, a street-smart kid entangled in an ugly drug and gang war in Respeto.

The Cinemalaya entry had earlier reaped some of the technical awards at the 2nd Eddys. She came up the stage to receive the award on behalf of Jay Durias for Best Musical Score; Corinne de San Jose for Best Sound Design and Jay Durias; and Abra, Loonie and B-Boy Garcia for Best Original Theme Song.

After more than an hour, to her and the audience’s surprise, she won Best Supporting Actress in a three-way tie with Angeli Bayani and Therese Malvar, who both won for Maestra and Ilawod, respectively.

“There’s a lot of people I wanna thank. Thank God for social media. Please allow me to thank you guys there. I wanna take the short time to talk about Bechay and her friends Hendrix and Payaso. Out there, these three kids have real life counterparts who are victims of the things we adults do when we can’t get our crap together. And I’m reminded by this one line from A Quiet Place where Emily Blunt’s character said, ‘We have to take care of them. We have to protect them. If we can’t, what does that make of us.’ Indeed, if we can’t do that, what does that make of us. Thank you,” went her acceptance speech.

When I cornered her at the after-party, I had asked her about her being vocal and politically correct stance in showbiz. To my non-surprise, she remained the “rabid” woman who stands by her name.

“I’m at the age where I really don’t have time for BS anymore. And we all know na may sintunadong nangyayari sa lipunan ngayon, and this is not the time to be silent. Kasi out there, may namamatay. Don’t wait for your family member to die before you can relate.

Human rights are for everybody. Human rights should be afforded to everybody. That’s a basic thing. And so I stand by what I believe in. If you can’t stand by something so basic just because you want to protect the career, what does that make of you? So that’s what I believe in,” she bravely noted.

Her “brazenness” for some industry insiders might make them think twice of getting her. With her many past accolades as an actress or part of an ensemble, I am still surprised not to see her play even bit roles in mainstream TV unlike her many indie darling contemporaries. Has her being much vocal mattered? There are other stars who are very vocal in social media, like Agot Isidro and Jim Paredes, but their case are different since they have long been established in the business before social media came in and afforded them a platform to voice out their popular/unpopular opinions.

But whatever the case is for Chai, she still has an avenue to speak out and stand firm on what she believes in.

In fact, her next project is very much up to her alley. She’s set to star in the Pista ng Pelilkulang Pilipino entry Pinay Beauty. She will play the role of a young lady who is hell-bent on looking today’s standard of beauty of fair-skinned, Caucasian mestiza looker. But it’s all acting. At her core is still that woman who made “#sunkissedparinmgaulol” a battle cry for many Filipino women who love their God-given beauty.