Wait a minute, how did we end up liking Kris Aquino?

A cursory search of “Kris Aquino” on Facebook shows an aggregate of reactions towards her over the past three years and it shows a sharp shift. Try it. Around 2015 it ranged from vitriolic to sheer embarrassment. In an ABS-CBN news article, she talked about walking in high heels in cobblestoned floors. A Facebook friend shared the link and captioned, “Try walking around underdeveloped areas without footwear, puta ka.”  This same guy shared a link of Kris Aquino’s romp around National Bookstore, and said, in June 2017: “I want a Kris Aquino reality show.”

Same. Kris Aquino has always been one of my guilty pleasures, but in terms of publicly declaring my affection for her, I was always cautious. But now, people from all over my feed — of different political colors, gender identities, universities — eagerly await her next video, and tag each other with every new one. “Spirit animal!!!” random people would declare, whether it’s because of Kris’ passion for makeup, strategic packing, or vintage Chanel bags. “My siblings always ask me, ‘Kris, how many bags do you really need?’ But I have an excuse kapag Chanel! Kasi it reminds me of my mom! O, diba??? Walang excuse ‘yan!!!” And we cheer her on.

Kris Aquino has always erred on the side of scandal. The image of her that is seared into my brain is of her tearfully admitting, on national TV, that her boyfriend at the time, comedian and ex-Paranaque city mayor Joey Marquez, gave her chlamydia. She had to call a press conference because Marquez threatened to blackmail her in a fight that escalated to physical violence and the pointing of a gun. This proclamation was deemed shameless and, as I understood it as a 10-year-old, was frowned upon by society. Scandals are to be avoided at all costs. But Kris Aquino understood her celebrity in a way that was ahead of her time. And we are just catching up to her, thanks to think pieces about the Kardashians.

“There is no scandal when there’s nothing to hide, nothing to hack when you’ve made your entire life accessible since before we even knew you existed,” wrote John Saward in a Vice article about the Kardashians. The same can be said of Kris, though I doubt Tetay will be posting nude selfies soon. They have a few similarities, but these are important similarities. Both have established the perfect tone of interaction with their fans. Both are brands. They know how to monetize their mere existence. We adore them for the same reasons. We love seeing them just be.

Kris Aquino is perennially switched on. But then, so are we. The quirks of our everyday lives provide material we can all gleefully share virtually. This is something that Tita Kris intuitively understands.

Although the starkest difference is that Kris is the child of her parents, and her last name will always carry symbolism and historical baggage.  The reason she was thrust into the very spotlight that she enjoys was because of a tragedy and a victory — her father’s death, and her mother’s presidency. It’s a name that will always pop up when people talk about the Philippines, democracy, and peaceful revolutions. And let’s not forget — it’s not the easiest last name to have these days, especially during these times.

But Kris has managed to transcend her last name, and has successfully been a brand of her own precisely because of her brand of vulnerability. She is #goals but she is also Tita Kris. Aspirational but familial. We are the generation that is perfectly capable of appreciating the absurdity that is Kris Aquino, who has been meme-able even before the Internet reached our shores and was available to everyone. To us, she is not excessive; she is extra. She is not corny, baduy, or jologs; she is simply a Tita. She is not oversharing; she is just being herself. With us, she doesn’t have to be Queen of All Media, but simple, our Queen.

Kris Aquino is perennially switched on. But then, so are we. The quirks of our everyday lives provide material we can all gleefully share virtually. This is something that Tita Kris intuitively understands. When she says that she has to do her kilay and her PJ’s have to coordinate when she goes to bed, we get it. We don’t have to do it ourselves, but we empathize with the cost of what it means to be a personal brand like Kris Aquino.

A lot of things had to fall into place for us to be able to appreciate Kris the way we do now. Her migration to YouTube was because she left ABS-CBN. She became a bit more legit in our eyes ever since it was announced that she would be in the Crazy Rich Asians film. Bimb had to say what he said so we could create the definitive Kris meme of early 2017. Living in a post-truth world where a group of macho men are threatening to break the protective embrace of democracy in our society makes watching Tita Krissy feel like a breath of fresh air. Perhaps what we truly need is a mumsh, our mumsh, the definitive Tita, with eyebrows always on fleek, who can make us laugh just by saying what’s true. Have I told you that in 1993, the year I was born, Kris Aquino starred in a movie called, “Humanda Ka, Mayor!: Bahala na ang Diyos” How prophetic. Bless you, Tita Kris. May your mouth runneth free forever.

When this article was originally published, it included a screengrab of the Facebook posts mentioned in the article. We have since taken the screengrab down, as we uploaded it without the permission of the Facebook user. We apologize for this oversight.

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