Monday, 28 March 2011

Willie Revillame and JanJan: A New Low to an Old Show

This was an issue that has been around for a couple of weeks now, but has only come to my attention recently. It's a well-known fact that here in the Philippines, entertainment shows abound (though their methods of "entertaining" are rather dubious at times) and one particular show, hosted by a certain Willie Revillame, takes the cake for appalling "humor".

There is a video of this incident, but I feel it is not necessary to spread it around until the kid's face is obscured to spare him further humiliation, degradation, and loss of respect. Here is a post with a screenshot of the performance. Basically, this is the picture:

The show's host, Willie, has gained some notoriety on certain tasteless and allegedly exploitative acts in order to promote his show. He throws around money like cheap candy (in this particular case, he hands P3,000 to JanJan's aunt for hugging him. Yeah, he needs more of that.) and in the eyes of many viewers "struggling to make ends meet", he's the second Jesus himself. This show featuring JanJan, however, is just horribly wrong.

It starts off innocently enough. A poor kid from a poor family is featured on a show. Fine. He is asked to dance. Fine as well. However, the child's dance was akin to the sort that red-light district performers are prone to do, which wouldn't be as terrible as it became had the kid not been crying during his entire performance. He was clearly distressed, but the show's host, the kid's aunt, and the vast majority of the audience were egging him on. For the next five minutes or so, Willie repeatedly asked JanJan to perform over and over again. The distressed look on the kid's face never disappeared. He was given P10,000 (about $200) for his troubles.

Entertainment vs Morals
The issue that many people such as myself are bringing up in response to this show is not because we "hate" Willie Revillame. For some, that is indeed true. I am indifferent as to who he is. My personal problem is that this man allows unacceptable things to happen; a child of 6 years dancing provocatively on stage for money definitely counts as unacceptable in my books. Aside from that, the fact that many people find this practice "alright" for "poor people" is not only judgmental; it is a display of total dumbf*ckery (pardon the language, I'm pretty mad).

When the host was explaining "how difficult life is... he's [JanJan] doing this for his family..", did any of the viewers stop to think why a child would do this "for his family"? Yes, life is hard, especially in a third-world country like ours, but dignity and self-respect shouldn't be the first two things to be sacrificed for two hundred bloody dollars. In the video, the kid mentioned his dad operated a parlor (a barbershop) and the host was suggestively questioning the father's occupation, which he does not have a right to do. JanJan's family is much better off than many other Filipinos simply because his father has an occupation. Yeah, an occupation but not honor and certainly not the protectiveness expected of a father. Why am I putting so much of the blame on the father? The kid says he learned to dance that way FROM HIM. And of course, the father - along with the mother and the ecstatic aunt - would have given permission for him to appear on television the way he did. This scares me; parents and guardians have no qualms about sacrificing the dignity and self-respect of children for the sake of "providing for the family" and/or "making a living during desperate times".

Oh, and it also did not help that the host, the crowd, and the viewers that day I am sure, were hooting and cheering as a child (who should either be in school, watching cartoons, or playing in the park) showed the country what he is being taught to do all for the sake of making a quick buck.

We have prostituted our society.
All of us are liable, unless we speak up and stand up against this. United, we the people of the Philippines, can topple an institution that has made a mockery of our supposed Christian values and the familial ethics we claim to be so proud of.

Thanks to Definitely Filipino for the picture and some info.



  1. Well said Jay. I could cry just looking at the picture. This country really needs to reexamine whatever moral values it's claiming to have.

  2. It breaks my heart that the audience members (both live and at home) have kept these kinds of shows on air. Escapism is fine to a certain extent, but this particular episode has sold out the values that many Filipinos claim to be proud of.

  3. For some unfortunate reason, this is exactly how Willie Revillame gets his notoriety for his shows. And, for some reason, he always gets away with it.

    As a matter of fact, I saw that episode you were talking of. The child was actually crying because -- I don't know -- he seems camera shy, but yes, I agree with you that Willie shouldn't have forced that kid if he was uncomfortable, & I was also appalled by the thought that his own father would make his own son do such act against his will for just the mere thought of money.

  4. Just got in:

  5. So many people to blame, but you know what, we aren't going to get into the heart of the matter by pointing fingers. I just believe we need to reevaluate our society and culture; this did NOT happen overnight, and Willie Revillame simply happened to be the poster boy of celebrity jerk behavior in our country.

  6. That's... really shocking. Poor kid =(

  7. That's what many people here think so too, jie. You know what's even more shocking? Thousands are also standing up for the show's host :(