When Kris Aquino was asked in June why she liked to flaunt her expensive clothes and jewelry during press events, and talk about her income and the taxes she’s paid, she replied it wasn’t meant to brag but to inspire. It was also a response to critics who’ve tried to put her down and say her showbiz career has come to an inglorious end.
For many years, Aquino, who is also the youngest child of former President Corazon Aquino and the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was one of the country’s highest-earning entertainment celebrities. She consistently ranked as one of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)’s top individual income taxpayers from 2009 to 2014. (See infographic)
In 2014, the latest year in which the BIR list is available, Aquino’s taxes alone reached Php54.5 million. Based on the calculations of tax-consulting firm Asian Consulting Group (ACG), that meant she had an estimated taxable income worth Php170.5 million.
That is far more sizeable than the net worth that her brother, former President Benigno Aquino III, declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) of Php68.7 million in 2015. A bulk of his assets consisted of properties inherited from his mother.
But in 2016, Kris Aquino suddenly left the country’s largest television network, ABS-CBN Broadcast Corp., where she worked as a host for many different shows for many years, prompting some of her critics to predict the end of her lucrative career.
That seemed to be the backdrop of her viral social media post in June: “To all those who were written off, to all those who were told you're gone & done, and to all those who feel that it is the end of the road—I AM LIVING PROOF that w/PRAYERS & PERSEVERANCE—YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN.”
It also helps explain the huge public interest in her being a part of the Hollywood movie Crazy Rich Asians, which is showing for the first time in the Philippines on August 22. In the movie, the first major Hollywood picture in 25 years that will be predominantly led by actors of Asian descent, she plays the role of a Malay princess described in one scene in the book as clad in diamonds from head to toe.
Not surprisingly, her attendance at the world premiere of the Hollywood movie in Los Angeles, California on August 7 was another occasion for Aquino to showcase expensive clothes and jewelry said to be worth “millions of pesos.”
It may be difficult to find out how much Aquino is earning these days compared to what she was making when she was one of ABS-CBN’s most popular talents. The BIR has not updated its list of top taxpayers since 2014.
But what’s far more interesting is how Aquino not only maintained her prominent place in Philippine media but how well she has adapted to the rise of digital technologies and platforms by creating and growing her own internet-based businesses.
The long-time TV host migrated her traditional television show and extensive entertainment experience into her online platforms. Aquino started producing videos lasting anywhere from one minute to half an hour long and posting them on Facebook and YouTube.
In 2017, she formed a new company, Kris Cojuangco Aquino Productions, to house her online ventures. That adds a digital component to her portfolio of companies that include a movie production outfit formed in 2012, Kris Aquino Productions, and a food stall franchising company established in 2015, Nacho Bimby Pilipinas Corp. (See infographic)
Aquino, once the face of traditional television, started to take inspiration from the new breed of entertainers online.
Kris Aquino formed a partnership with Potato Corner to establish Nacho Bimby and opened it up for franchising
As of August 2018, Aquino has gained 3.7 million followers on Instagram, 1.7 million followers on Facebook and 274,000 subscribers on Youtube. Just recently, she also launched a TV show on online streaming site iFlix. The online personality also claims her videos in all platforms have reached a total of 400 million views.
In the world of online entertainment, views and clicks mean big bucks for content creators. And that multiplies exponentially when they are tapped by big major brands.
It’s no different with Aquino. With her strong following online, she is more popular than ever with brands. Based on our research, Aquino has mentioned and/or featured at least 31 brands or companies in her social media accounts. (See infographic). While it would be difficult to determine how much she earns from each brand partnership, industry sources say each post about a certain brand or product can easily mean hundreds of thousands of pesos.
In contrast, it's traditional television broadcasters that seem to be facing challenging times as they begin to feel the impact of digital disruption. Aquino may yet have the last laugh—all the way to the bank.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz