Because Making Fun of a Poor Child Sells?

“It was not funny. It was insensitive… It was not genius. It was tasteless… It was not entertainment. It was exploitation.” – Gabriela


MANILA – Known for his high professional fees, flashy cars and yachts, alleged wife-beating, previous charges of violation of the code of ethics and the fatal stampede of a crowd hyped up to vie for some anniversary prizes, Willie Revillame again courted controversy on his new primetime show in a newly aggressive TV network.

Willie is under fire today for his treatment of a child participant during his show. This time around, Willie has managed to catch the ire of Gabriela Women’s Partylist, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and more recently, the MTRCB. On top of that, showbiz artists such as Monique Wilson have issued strongly-worded statements against Willie’s latest misdeeds.

Last March 12, Willie Revillame’s Willing Willie featured a six-year-old child dancing repeatedly in slow, gyrating movements. The moves seemed to channel the dance shown in the 80s Lino Brocka movie “Macho Dancer”, which has been described as “a searing indictment of the hypocrisy and police corruption rampant under both the Marcos and Aquino regimes”. In Willie’s show, the child was seen crying while dancing. But instead of asking the child to stop and comforting him, Willie Revillame even taunted and egged him on. Now Willie is drawing flak and accusations of having committed child abuse and exploitation for the sake of ratings.

‘The whole incident is an atrocious act of child abuse and exploitation aired primetime on local TV,” said the Gabriela National Alliance of Women. The women’s group scathingly denounced the segment, and Willie Revillame in particular, saying “It was not funny. It was insensitive… It was not genius. It was tasteless… It was not entertainment. It was exploitation.”

But like his usual response to charges of wrongdoing, Willie Revillame denied it. He even implied that some viewers were just being malicious. After a long explanation, he also tried to dismiss what he had done by saying that instead of castigating his show, there are more important national issues that should be tackled.

“It was like saying that children’s rights have less importance than other issues,” fumed Lana Linaban, secretary-general of Gabriela.

The women’s group pressed the management of TV5 and concerned government agencies to impose “immediate and appropriate sanctions on Revillame and his show for violating the rights of a child”. They also urged the management of TV5 to acknowledge via public statement the “gross acts of violation committed by Revillame and the show Willing Willie and to commit to exercising its oversight function as a network to ensure that no such incident of exploitation will happen again in Willing Willie or in any of their programs.”

Spotlight on Poverty and Unemployment

According to Gabriela, the March 12 episode underscores how shows like Willing Willie are exploiting the condition of the poor to boost ratings. “With unemployment at its highest in the country, queuing up for game shows has become an alternative source of income especially of urban-poor women and their families, even if it means being subjected to humiliating jokes and made to do even undignified acts,” said Linaban.

“The multiple pressures exerted on Jan Jan by the TV program’s host, audience and his parents to perform a humiliating act in exchange for P10,000 constitute child abuse,” said the CHR in a statement last week.

Indeed, Willie Revillame has carved a niche in Philippine showbiz hosting with his talent for squeezing the peaks and lows of the life stories of mostly underprivileged people who queued up outside TV network studios so they could be chosen as game participants and thus have a chance to win prizes. Part of Revillame’s stardom emanates from the image he has cultivated of helping the poor, or the lucky, and selecting from among thousands who came to his shows the ones with the saddest sob stories and gutsiest show of “talent”. It was due to this, in fact, that Willie had been said to be culpable for the huge crowd that flocked to his defunct show in another network a few years before. They had reportedly failed to institute proper crowd management, resulting in a stampede.

Today, after Revillame had been shunted by rival networks for having come under fire due to varied misdeeds, he came to roost in this latest network, which is now also coming under fire if they continued covering his back. “The show’s director, producer and TV5’s management grossly erred for tolerating the tasteless antics and exploitation of children and women that is signature of Revillame and his shows,” charged Gabriela. They added that “TV5 is especially disappointing for taking the path of the “ratings war” via a trivial and tasteless show such as Willing Willie when it, in fact, promised to deliver alternative and quality shows to the audience.”

In another statement, the Mass Communication Department of St. Scholastica’s College in Manila, cited Willing Willie as “a classically crass TV show which should not even see the light of day.” They pointed out these programs as “uniquely insensitive and even violative of children’s and women’s rights amounting to downright abuse and oppression of those who are at a disadvantage due to age, gender, education or financial situation.”

If Willie Revillame’s latest network will not act decisively, the Mass Communications department of St. Scholastica’s College said it is “a reflection of the values and ethics of TV5 management.” This college department promised to encourage people to monitor and stop patronizing the sponsors and advertisers who continue to support such program. (

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5 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. GO! GO! GO! St scholastica’s college. tama ang tinuran ninyo. dapat na ngang mawala si revillame sa mundo ng telebisyon!!!!! I salute you!!!

  2. napakaganda po ng pagkakasulat ng article na ito. saludo po ako sa inyo. sana po ay mabasa ito ng nakararami at makagawa na po ng nararapat na kastigo di lamang kay revilame kundi pati sa tv5. maraming salamat po sa inyo.

  3. kung may isa mang dapat sisihin ,ay ang magulang ng bata,bakit ngayun lang umakto itong ating mga kababayan?eh maraming mga bata ang sumasali bago yang JanJan na yan? kadaming problema ng ating bansa ngayun ito pa ang kay tungkol kay JanJan ang inuuna nila sos grabe kayo,yun ang talent ng bata ,dapat unahin muna nila ayusin yang prostitution dito sa Pilipinas dahil nawala na ang moralidad ng iba nating kababaihan,pangalawa yung tulak druga ,pagtuunan nyo muna yan ng pansin dahil nasisira na ang imahe ng ating magandang lipunan,mas marami pa kayung matutulungan kung unahin nyo munang tulungan na mawala ang prostitutions at ang mga drug addicts sa ating lipunan dahil marami ng buhay ang nasira dahil dyan, last po kasuhan nyo yang parents ng bata (JanJan) dahil sila ang nagdala ng bata dyan sa programang Willing Willie Show.

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