Posts Tagged ‘willie revillame’

pop goes the world: choosing the light

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 28 April 2011, Thursday

Choosing the Light

My first “Pop Goes the World” column came out April 29 last year, and was about David Byrne’s “Here Lies Love” rock opera on the life of Imelda Marcos.

Has it been a year already? Time speeds by at maximum velocity when you’re enjoying yourself, and writing these pieces do count as fun.

I initially envisioned this column as touching upon matters related to cultural studies, and over the past year I’ve opined on a wide range of topics – the serious, such as the BP oil spill and the trifecta disasters in Japan, and the personal, on the multiculturalism of my sister and children and on relationships.

Do they all have to do with culture, though? Yes, because culture is the context in which human activity is embedded. You can’t throw a stick without hitting something to do with culture, which in its broadest sense has been defined as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group,” or, as I’ve read  elsewhere, “the way we do things around here.”

As a social constructionist, it’s interesting to see how different people create their societies based on mutual agreement, notwithstanding the opposition of any vociferous minority that may exist, since the majority prevails – unless we’re talking dictators (a minority of one), and that’s a whole ‘nother thing entirely.

“Far Side” cartoon by Gary Larson here.

We can see the construction of culture within our society happening before our very eyes. An example? Jan-jan’s “macho dancing” on Willie Revillame’s “Willing Willie”. I wrote in a previous column about how I deemed it obscene for a six-year-old to be made to gyrate in that suggestive manner on national television.

After it was published, I got several comments saying, in effect, who was I to judge what was lascivious or not for a young boy to do and where to do it, and that different people have different tastes and just to let each other be. “Live and let live,” they said.

In my not-so-long-ago youth, such a dance would never have made it on TV. Such a dance would never have been taught to young children. Such a dance showing the sexualization of minors would not have been tolerated in the wider society.

Now, however, it is disconcerting to read how a great many people see nothing wrong with Jan-jan’s teary performance, with his parents even suing the sundry people who have taken up the cudgels for their son and others who might be exposed in a similar manner in the future.

Our culture is changing before our very eyes, even as you read these words. For better or for worse?

The good thing is that in this society, we still have a choice. We can choose not to allow our own children to be sexualized prematurely by not teaching them suggestive dances and by not exposing them to such activities. We can choose not to watch “Willing Willie” nor any other show Revillame may be on. We can choose to create a better life for ourselves and our loved ones.

The sad part is that when our culture changes around us, there is no way we or our children won’t be affected somehow, eventually.

But we can try, and rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

Since this is still a free country (more or less, the last time I looked), I will, within my jurisdiction as a parent, pro-actively shield my children as much as I can from what I personally consider negative influences. That means a block on Internet porn sites and no shows featuring Willie Revillame.

I will encourage my children to read more. We started way back when they were toddlers, when I read Dr Seuss aloud to them, which resulted in both my girls being able to master diphthongs in 24 hours. This was followed with childrens’ classics such as “Alice in Wonderland”, and we memorized the hilarious poem “Jabberwocky” as an added bonus. Right now they are into Eoin Colfer and other young adult books – no “Twilight” in our house, thankfully.

The John Tenniel illustration of the Jabberwock.

I will take them to more art exhibits and book launches and other similar events. Last February we saw the paintings and multi-media art of Bea Lapa, Chris Dumlao, and  Rebie Ramoso. We also nearly got Neil Gaiman’s autograph the last time he was here but were turned off by the long lines, something we regretted after.

I will take them regularly to Baguio, where creative self-expression is a part of many residents’ lives. I was up there the week before Holy Week for the 50th UP National Writers Workshop (as a Fellow for English) and was blown away by how vibrant and sincere the art scene there is.

As colorful Tibetan prayer flags flutter above them, 50th UP National Writers Workshop panelists and UP professors Dr Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Dr Gemino Abad, and Dr Jose Dalisay (back to camera) sit awhile at the BenCab museum cafe.

Anthropologist Dr. Padmapani Perez’s Mountain Cloud bookshop at Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, is the place “where your soles touch the ground, rumbling in your tummy, dancing where your heart pulses and your breath moves, filling the space between your ears,” as their slogan goes. It’s right beside Hill Station café, and you can move back and forth between the two, settling in the bookshelf-cum-chairs of Mt. Cloud with a coffee or beer from the café.

It’s a small place with a big heart – Mountain Cloud Bookshop in Baguio City. Books are not wrapped in plastic, inviting browsing. The bookshelf/chairs are cozy.

A view of the Mt. Cloud bookshop counter from the loft above.

I participated in a Poetry Slam event there and loved how welcoming and warm the audience and other contestants were. They will be having the third edition of that event in June – do go, and witness something special!

A quiet corner at Hill Station.

VOCAS on Session Road is where you will find food and drink with art and interesting interiors, and where a drumming session might begin – or not. There is no pressure to do, everything simply flows, and one goes with it, flowing in and out as moved by intuition and desire.

Inside VOCAS (Victor Oteyza Community Art Space).

It’s a good way to live, peaceful and meaningful, and I look forward to applying in Manila the lessons learned in Baguio. I choose to fill my life with art and books and love, because I have the right to live my life the way I want to, as long as I do not break the law.

I will create my personal culture while remaining a part of mainstream culture, an individual yet still Filipino to the core.

And as I celebrate my first year on MST’s op-ed page, I invite you to continue along with me on this journey together, as we explore more of Filipino and world culture and society.   ***

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pop goes the world: the price of innocence

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 7 April 2011, Thursday

The Price of Innocence

What price innocence? What price childhood?

Many of you have seen the infamous video by now: Jan-jan, a six-year-old boy dressed conservatively in a plaid shirt and pants gyrates lewdly and suggestively on national television while tears stream down his cheeks, as the show’s host eggs him on and the audience of adults cheers and screams for more.

Some of you were sickened and disgusted. Some said, “What’s the big deal? If not him, it would’ve been some other kid.” Others said, “But it was really funny!”

This is the state of Philippine society now – that a child can grind like a macho dancer on TV and the Internet for the world to see and get paid off with ten thousand pesos, and most Filipinos see nothing wrong but find it amusing.

“Nothing wrong” because the boy’s father has said that he is proud of his son’s performance and thanks the host, Willie Revillame, for having given Jan-jan a chance to show off the dance that he himself, the father, and the boy’s aunt, taught him.

“Nothing wrong” because Willie and Willie’s camp, including co-host Valenzuela councillor Shalani Soledad, have come out with no sincere apology but a long-winded defense and explanation, saying Jan-jan cried not because he felt humiliated but because he was afraid of a tall former pro basketball in the studio, why do you only see the bad, don’t you see the good that we are doing for the poor people of this country by giving them cash handouts after they humiliate themselves in public, blah blah.

“Nothing wrong” because only a few sponsors – Jollibee Group’s Mang Inasal and Del   Monte Philippines – have expressed their disapproval by pulling out. CDO foods backpedalled. The rest are still in, putting ratings and money above decency. TV-5, the show’s network, still airs the show which they revived, having been killed in the first place by its previous network.

“Nothing wrong” because as of presstime, there has been no statement from the majority Roman Catholic Church, which is so fast to condemn the RH Bill, even calling for civil disobedience from its believers to suppress a measure that will help control the rampant population boom of this country and raise its standard of living, yet drags its collective feet on this blatant episode of sexualisation of children.

The Church condemns contraception, encouraging its believers to “go forth and multiply”. Yet where are they when children need to be fed, clothed, educated, kept safe from predators and molesters, when their parents cannot care for them properly because they have too many children, because they are poor and their church has forbidden them contraceptives?

To be fair, no other church group has come out with a statement. So let’s just ask instead – what now, organized religion?  If it works, why is our society sexualizing and exploiting its children?

It’s good to see the government standing up for Jan-jan and other exploited children, but also because of public pressure. Perhaps the largest and most vocal group got its start as a Facebook group set up by Froilan Grate – “Para Kay Jan-Jan (Shame on You, Willie Revillame)!” As of presstime, the page has 10,490 “likes”.

Screenshot of the “Para Kay Jan-jan” FB Page.

Partly because of letters written by Grate and supporters of the cause, and columns and articles written by journalists, artists, and others, Department of Social Work and Development Dinky Soliman wrote a letter condemning the March 12 incident, saying it is “clearly a violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and a blatant manifestation of child abuse.”

Sec. Soliman has also written TV-5 head Manny V. Pangilinan, asking him not to allow the show to “cash in on the plight of the poor.”

The Commission on Human Rights has said it will seek “to identity the persons accountable for violating Section 10 of RA 7610…”

Apart from government agencies, non-government organization Gabriela and others have also scored Revillame and those connected with the show for child abuse.

But it’s not just the children. It’s also Willie’s dancing women, his “Kembot Girls” of whom I’ve written about before as being in poor taste for a daytime variety show, sending messages to young girls that shaking your scantily-clad body on TV is okay, because with sex you will lift your family from poverty.  I thought that was what education was for!

And we think nothing is wrong with this.

As I’ve said before, we are a nation for sale. Not so much our goods, as our people. It used to be, when you asked about a nation’s export products, you’d answer “Rice. Coffee. Iron.” or whatever natural resource or manufactured good.

Instead, our number one export is humans. Never mind the social cost of children growing up without their parents, believing that all is justified for the sake of money.

Even our kids are for sale. We are raising them to be fodder for pedophiles. “Come on down to the Philippines, it’s a perverts’ paradise! Here, see how well they bump and grind on mass media!”

Nothing wrong with that? Really?

But why did Jan-jan ‘s father train him to do this dance and get on Willie’s show? Because of poverty and corruption, the root causes of many social ills. This is the reason for our country’s diaspora, for our large OFW population – because our country does not have enough jobs for all the people that are being born on its soil. Because endemic corruption and the culture of impunity have eaten away at funds for social development and poverty alleviation to line the pockets of those in power at the expense of the rest of the country.

Many will say, “We have no choice kundi kapit sa patalim.”

Don’t we? But there are people who have not taken that route to earn an income. Instead, they got an education; they got jobs; they refused to be on the take.

Because for some people, it’s not just money. For some people, morality and decency and family are not just dictionary words but principles to live by and die for.

The price of innocence, of a pure and untainted childhood free from abuse? Our answer should be, “Priceless.”   ***

Jan-jan image here. Mang Inasal logo here. Willie and Kembot Girls here.

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pop goes the world: “wawa we”

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 27 May 2010, Thursday

“Wawa We”

“Wow” is an apt prefix for the title of a show whose huge popularity spans the globe. “Wawa” (a contraction of the Tagalog word for ‘pitiful’) now describes the condition of the show’s host whose antics rocketed the program to the peak of the ratings charts.

Few local television programs have enjoyed the phenomenal success of ABS-CBN’s noontime variety show “Wowowee”. Over two hours long, the show features the usual song and dance production numbers, games, and other staples of Philippine TV. But it broke the mold by giving away more money and products than others and encouraging audience participation with atypical games and other gimmicks.

The cash handouts and scantily-clad dancing girls attracted immense viewership. Since it is carried by The Filipino Channel which broadcasts the network’s shows in the US, Middle East, and other countries, it has even gained foreign fans.

According to a Taylor Nelson Sofres Media Research Philippines report, on May 14, the show posted ratings of 18.1%, well above the 12.2% charted by rival “Eat Bulaga”, the long-running noontime program on GMA Network.

Much of the show’s popularity in its early days may be credited to its host Willy Revillame’s high-energy, down-to-earth performance. The show is said to rake in many millions a day for the network, with Revillame’s compensation at P1 million a day as he himself has said elsewhere. This wallet-busting figure does not include the millions more in fees that he earns from product endorsements.

Willy Revillame. (Image here.)

Sadly, one can’t buy manners or morals. When ABS-CBN’s dzMM radio host Jobert Sucaldito criticized Wowowee for creating a game played by students with low grades, saying in effect that this was fostering mediocrity, Revillame erupted. He called upon network management to fire Sucaldito, citing the big bucks his show was pulling in all due to his efforts. “Either he goes, or I go”, was the gist of what he said.

Jobert Sucaldito, host of dzMM’s “Showbiz Mismo”. (Image here.)

The staggering arrogance of that declaration hits you right in the sternum and cuts off the stream of oxygen to your lungs.

Revillame has been suspended several times from Wowowee and “Magandang Tanghali Bayan”, another show he used to host, for cussing on air. The potty-mouthed celebrity also earned public ire for his ungracious manners when he bawled out his own network’s traffic department – on air – for putting an inset of the live coverage of the late Philippine president Corazon Aquino’s funeral during a Wowowee episode.

Wowowee’s format has also been severely lambasted for fostering a culture of mendicancy. Many of its games revolve around making people do embarrassing things for money. It pains me to see game participants humiliated and taking it all, at a cost to their self-respect and dignity, because times are hard.

And the gyrating nearly-naked Kembot (shimmy) Girls? They are pretty and talented, and the show has made them popular and famous while dancing in scraps of fabric and heavy makeup. What message does this send to young girls? Never mind getting that college degree, anak, just be a Kembot Girl when you grow up? What signal does this send to men? That women are all about the curves and booty-shaking? Where’s the respect?

During the recent election campaign, Revillame, who endorsed Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Manny Villar, sent the Kembot Girls to the campaign rallies. Pro-women senatorial candidates Liza Maza and Pia Cayetano, dismayed at the skimpiness of the dancers’ costumes, asked them to dress more appropriately. Maza and Cayetano were running under the NP banner. Like the song says, “Isn’t it ironic?”

The Kembot Girls with Revillame (center) at a Manny Villar campaign rally. Screenshot of an ABS-CBN ‘TV Patrol’ report on the Maza-Cayetano complaint.

Does Wowowee have any redeeming social value whatsoever? Does it uplift attitudes, promote good morals, encourage excellence and self-sufficiency? Revillame claims his show “helps” people. Perhaps, in the way you give a man a fish for a day – and make him do tricks for it first – instead of teaching him how to fish. Does that benefit society in the long term?

ABS-CBN management, to its credit, ignored Revillame’s tantrums and refused to fire Sucaldito. Revillame stormed off for a vacation, leaving the show to co-host Pokwang, whose comic antics now account for much of the show’s drawing power, as Revillame descends into the maelstrom of believing his own spin. On May 15, action star Robin Padilla was given a chance to host; his stint ends Friday. The day he began, ratings shot up to 20.1%, proving that it’s not only Revillame who can steer the show and pull in viewers.

With public opinion against him, it’s significant that Revillame went on leave, asked ABS-CBN to release him from his contract, and apologized for his actions. After a meeting, the network announced that the host will not be released from his contract, which ends next year. Meanwhile, he is on indefinite leave from the show.

It’s painful to watch a person climb from ground zero to the summit of his ambitions, only for him to fall into the yawning crevasse of public contempt, toppled by his own ill-considered actions. It’s too bad that Revillame wasted his chance to make a genuine difference in people’s lives and institute positive values and attitudes.

Someone should take away the happy juice Revillame’s been drinking, before he hurts himself more. ***

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