Has Willie Revillame sparked a “class war”?

Since the Willing Willie debacle started on March 12, the day a six-year-old boy named Jan-Jan did a “macho dance” in front of millions of viewers across the Philippine airwaves, much has been said and done about the incident and the show’s host, Willie Revillame–who is certainly no stranger to controversy.

Filipinos on Twitter expressed their indignation and called the episode an incidence of  “child abuse.” A few days later, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) weighed in on the issue. Although the show has issued a statement of apology, that wasn’t enough for many Filipinos. Giant advertisers, such as Mang Inasal, Jollibee, and Procter & Gamble pulled out of advertising on the show, and, eventually, Willing Willie was taken off the air for at least two weeks.

It sounds like a simple case of cause-and-effect, but when one reads tweets and Facebook messages posted all over cyberspace about the issue, one is led to wonder: Did Willie Revillame spark a class war?

For those who were aghast at Jan-jan’s dancing on TV, the incident showed the desperation of the masses–who were willing to do anything and subject their children to even the most demeaning and humiliating of situations in order to win some extra cash. For those who defended Willie, “he was just trying to help people.”

Obviously, Willie and his handlers have done a very good job of turning this entire issue into one of class, status, and survival, diverting attention away from the delicate issue of child abuse and the impropriety of what has been transpiring on Willie’s stage through the years.

 

Obviously, the word “help” has many definitions–and pundits, celebrities, and ordinary Filipinos alike have wondered how “help” should be defined in this instance, and where to draw the lines. Milwida “Nene” Guevara, a noted civic leader and former Finance Undersecretary, borrowed Randy David’s definition on her Facebook status this morning when she posted:

“Randy David defines how it is to help:”It must focus on enhancing capacities of people or helping them help themselves rather than merely attending to their short-term needs.” Willie’s charity makes people donor dependent and does not develop their self-worth.”

Celebrities and politicians have also weighed in on the issue, using Twitter as their platform against the Almighty Willie.

However, rabid Willie devotees aren’t the type to take this sitting down as well. Many of them have lashed back at the rest of society, claiming that those who were against Willie have not done enough to help the poor. Some Twitter accounts seem to have been created solely for the purpose of trolling anti-Willie netizens, pointing out, again, that whatever these personalities’ high-profile accomplishments (and luxuries) were, they were not enough to feed the poor.

Obviously, Willie and his handlers have done a very good job of turning this entire issue into one of class, status, and survival, diverting attention away from the delicate issue of child abuse and the impropriety of what has been transpiring on Willie’s stage through the years.

So, now that one issue is unfolding into another, and the so-called “masses” have been turned against the so-called “elite”, where do we find ourselves? And what do we finally do to address the real issues of poverty and desperation that have made Willie and his dole-out antics a nationwide hit in the first place?

 

Niña Terol-Zialcita

Niña Terol-Zialcita is a “Communicator, Connector, idea Curator, and Changemaker” who uses the power of words and ideas to advocate causes and promote the Philippines at its best. She is ProPinoy.net’s Deputy Editor, as well as Editor-in-Chief of asianTraveler, the longest-running travel magazine in the Philippines. When she is not writing, blogging, or traveling, Niña is conducting writing workshops with Writer’s Block Philippines, hanging out at art galleries and cafés, and performing poetry with her husband, percussionist and performance artist Paul Zialcita. She is also the author of the book "[r]evolutionaries: The new generation of Filipino youth and youth organizations".

  • GabbyD

    ok. something interesting happened today that might shed light on this jan-jan issue…

    thought experiment number 1:
    a picture of j-crew president painting his 5 year old (?) son’s toenails pink.

    Q: is this psychological abuse? is this forcing the kid to be something he is naturally not? if this kid found nothing wrong, did his parents warp his conscience?

    whatever the answers are, people are speaking out against it, essentially calling it brainwashing, an attempt to sexualize the child, turn him gay.

    is it abuse? does it cause him indignity?
    ________________________

    thought experiment number 2
    the CBCP says that sex with artificial birthcontrol is MORALLY WRONG. they give reasons that make sense given their religion.

    they criticize couples who dont follow their advice. they say it is wrong, and they should repent.

    Q: should they have a right to speak when they see something wrong in society? should they impose what they think is right on others?

    it seems that many people would say NO.

    but why is it NOT OK for CBCP to impose their views on society, but its OK for some people to impose their views on society (ie. which dance is appropriate to dance)

    _________________

    just for fun, try these thought experiments 🙂

  • GabbyD

    ok. something interesting happened today that might shed light on this jan-jan issue…

    thought experiment number 1:
    a picture of j-crew president painting his 5 year old (?) son’s toenails pink.

    Q: is this psychological abuse? is this forcing the kid to be something he is naturally not? if this kid found nothing wrong, did his parents warp his conscience?

    whatever the answers are, people are speaking out against it, essentially calling it brainwashing, an attempt to sexualize the child, turn him gay.

    is it abuse? does it cause him indignity?
    ________________________

    thought experiment number 2
    the CBCP says that sex with artificial birthcontrol is MORALLY WRONG. they give reasons that make sense given their religion.

    they criticize couples who dont follow their advice. they say it is wrong, and they should repent.

    Q: should they have a right to speak when they see something wrong in society? should they impose what they think is right on others?

    it seems that many people would say NO.

    but why is it NOT OK for CBCP to impose their views on society, but its OK for some people to impose their views on society (ie. which dance is appropriate to dance)

    _________________

    just for fun, try these thought experiments 🙂

  • GabbyD

    PART2:

    3) The following day (or so), they came on to explain.
    A) they werent forced to dance the dance. its of their free will.
    B) no one felt that it was erotic. not willie, not the staff, not the audience, not the parents.

    the weird thing is, NONE OF THAT MATTERED. to people that made it worse. now people are imposing their view on the parents.

    but question: arent the parents, the staff, studio audience, etc.. willie’s views VALID at all? dont they have weight?
    .
    for many people — the answer is no. i’m like: bakit?

    4) now, we arrive at the present. they explained. everyone said “NO ONE CARES, its abuse anyway”.

    think about it. if you explained your side, and you think you are right, but everyone is basically ignoring you, arent you gonna be a little short too?

    think about it: people who should have waited for facts, been more humble about it, WERE FULL OF CERTAINTY AS TO WHAT HAPPENED. without the benefit of an investigation. by completely discounting their POV of the event.

    is that the webster definition of “unfair”? di ba maiinis ka din?

  • Nina Terol-Zialcita

    In that case, Gabby, please explain your side so we will understand it.

    • GabbyD

      my pleasure, but i’ll keep it brief. alot of this is a summary of what i said to raggster.

      these are the facts as i recall:

      1) a video was released. boy danced (a dance akin to a macho dancer dance) on a game show. was given money for it. he cried at the start, but wasnt crying later on.

      2) public outroar. many reasons were cited, among them.
      a) kid dancing lewd dance, b) crying while dancing, c) accepting money after dancing (which happened once), d) danced several times (not given money each time), e) danced with women and willie.

      they said: a)-d) or combinations thereof… are psychological abuse of a minor, which is a crime. [debate has since shifted to how bad TV is, but i’ll ignore that here]

      3) counter-arguments:

      A)– yes, he was dancing the dance. BUT he wasnt being erotic. he wasnt taking off his clothes. there is no danger that the boy believes he is doing something wrong with the dance. for him, his parents, its just a dance move. no one is putting 100 peso bills into his pants. that fits the music. ==> the child isnt doing this to be erotic.

      B)– malaswa tignan: this speaks to what it looks like to others, to adults specifically. to this i have a long, but hopefully reasonable explanation….

      … a child was dancing it! i think, its equally valid to assume innocence, because its a kid doing it. anyone, with the right mind, cannot view that and be turned on.

      think of that argument as this: when innocent kids do something, they subtract the real negative effects of some acts, while reminding adults about its context. thats the source of humor: it only APPEARS wrong, but it actually isnt.

      a good example of this is dreamworks’ shrek. there are lots of jokes that are in the film that look funny so the kids like it, but fly over kid’s heads so adults get it. [i.e double entendres(?)] see? one can definitely say, ang bastos naman ng film na yan! but thats certainly NOT abuse. and you (as an adult) can enjoy it, and kids can have fun with it too.

      to sumarize: kids ought to have an assumption of innocence in the things that they do. when they do something that remind adults of uncomfortable things, adults CAN believe innocence and good faith on part of the child and family.

      instead, the first thing people do is assume the worst: “oh, they must have been paid! oh, its coz they are poor! oh, they are so immoral, etc…”

      to be clear: its ok to ask questions. to be concerned. BUT THAT DIDNT HAPPEN. instead, people rushed to accusations and assumed the worst.

      C) the context: its a game show. a game show is when you perform for money. its normal to be paid to dance. or sing. or act. or whatever your talent is.

      now, you can argue that kids performing on TV is wrong. but first you have deal with the abuse issue first.

      D) the worst thing is that happened (and you can see this in the video) is that willie made fun of the kids dad. but as can be seen, he dialed it back immediately. and in fact, to cheer up the kid, he said” di ba you have a talent. sige do your talent. go.”

      E) to support that kid, other people danced with him. this is not a bad thing — in fact, its better to dance WITH others right? its less stressful and more fun. [di ba? i have been dancing before; its great to perform, but when others RISE UP to join you, thats even better]

  • Nina Terol-Zialcita

    Hi guys,

    Interesting comments, but aren’t we veering off-topic already? This isn’t just about social media–although social media has become sort of a barometer for the kind of backlash and the kinds of sentiments that we’re seeing out there. It’s about how one person and his followers are twisting an issue to turn people against each other. Of course, he didn’t say that outright, but that’s how it’s shaping up and it’s not helping to resolve the issue.

    So,moving forward, what do you think is the next best step to do this, policy-wise?

    • GabbyD

      its hard to move forward when the situation is characterized by bad faith, for example: “It’s about how one person and his followers are twisting an issue to turn people against each other”

      well thats certainly how ONE SIDE views it! the other certainly DOESNT!.

      nines, this isnt STAR WARS where one side is the noble rebellion and the other the EVIL EMPIRE.

      if you wanna move forward, how about the simple recognition that other people dont see the situation the same as you.

      and these people arent blind followers, they arent stupid.

      people can however, if you will, be WRONG. but smart people can be wrong too. and the good thing is, being wrong can be fixed with sound arguments.

      is that possible? i hope so!

      if its not clear, let me explicitly say it: i hold a different view than some here. but i’m waiting for logical arguments. (beyond, “kid’s dance is wrong” which is NOT an argument, but an assertion/belief/preference).

  • Class war nga ito. Millionaires against a billionaire.

    • Or middle-class versus billionaire class. Take your pick. 😉

      • maybe it’s about race. Tinanong kasi ni Willie sa mga bumabatikos sa kanya, “pinagiinitan ba ninyo ako dahil sa kulay ko?”

    • GabbyD

      nah, its people with twitter VS people without twitter.

      pansin mo? when cocoy posts, its social media revolution.

      those without social media presence NEED NOT APPLY.

      • Cocoy

        Really??? Last I checked, Cocoy isn’t an Internet god who says who can and can’t join. Hell, there are 5 year olds i know who are on Facebook. As John Gilmore once said, “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” The beauty of this Social Media is that anyone can join. That’s the whole point of it. Power to people. Voice to the people.

        Willie wants to define it as a “Class War.” GabbyD you want to define it as a war between the digital divide: those who are online, and those who are offline, which can be distilled to “who can afford to go online, and those who can’t.” The MRTCB defines it as what we permit to be broadcast on the air.

        As I wrote in “Social Media: not armchair revolutionaries,” What’s even more fascinating is the introspection being done. Fayemartel on her blog, published “The Box, The Abuser, and the suitcase.” Fayemartel is a mother, a media educator, and has worked in television for almost 18 years. She looked at the Willing Willie incident through the prism of being a scholar. She talked about how the death of childhood in the Philippines coincides with the quality of programming we air on television. She concluded her entry,

        “After Holy Week, I will be attending the Prix Jeunesse Suitcase workshop for Children’s TV Producers. I was tickled pink upon reading my boss’ email saying that he will send me to the workshop. It only means that our big bosses are taking the issue of children and television seriously and are taking up on the responsibility of producing more child friendly content.

        But this is not the sole responsibility of just one person or agency, it’s everyone’s responsibility and its about time that we all assume it.”

        It is a question of what is right, and what is the law. Did Willie and his show violate the law on Child Abuse? Isn’t that what we have courts of law to decide? Do we need to rethink what we allow on network television so our kids can have childhoods? Those are the questions we are faced, not this whole “Class War,” mess that Willie pontificates.

        • GabbyD

          cocoy,

          never said you were an internet god. i did say that when you post, you frequently cite social media as examples of public opinion. diba? tama? merong mga link to people’s twitter?

          cocoy, rags,

          its true that anyone can join. but not everyone is on twitter — let admit that!

          in fact nines herself said: ” Some Twitter accounts seem to have been created solely for the purpose of trolling anti-Willie netizens,…” SUGGESTING that these twitters didnt twitter initially, but were led to do so AFTER this thing blew up!

          there is an internet access divide; and even among those with access, there are those who “get” twitter, and those who “dont get it”.

      • @GabbyD, doesn’t that presume that Twitter has some sort of exclusivity, prestige or cliquish nature to it? Because in reality, anyone can join Twitter and comment to their heart’s content. It is a platform among other platforms such as Facebook, blogs, and even comments sections like this in other websites. That dichotomy is utterly false and misleading. It doesn’t exist, except in Willie’s head.

      • GabbyD

        hhmmm… this is just the latest example of how social media “gangs up” on someone — whether or not they ended up being right.

        remember 3 years ago, about the guy being beat up in the golf course! walang video yun, just a girl writing on her blog. later, turns out the blog omitted a few things…

        so now it takes video evidence to stir up online twitter outrage. not just the jan-jan thing, but Tricia Gosingtian’s comments on video ruffled a few feathers too!

        all she said was that ” in the Philippines, it’s not that fashion-forward.””

        that was blown out of proportion. let the kid talk.

        what about krip yuson? i;ve read a few blogging about it, but its certainly NOT the level of MVP’s or the SC justice’s plagiarism…

        naging trending topic ba ito?

        which is WEIRD — if there’s anyone we should criticize for plagiarism its PROFESSIONAL WRITERS. they earn money solely for writing, not for their legal opinions or for inspiration!

  • UP nn grad

    If many Pinays and Pinoys do not want the CBCP’s definition of right-and-wrong to decide if condoms should be sold at Mercury Drug …. If many Pinays and Pinoys expect the CBCP to be respectful of differences of opinion, then shouldn’t these same Pinays and Pinoys be respectful of the opinions of Willie’s fans?

    In the end, maybe the correct approach is to let deLima Dept Justice lawyers and CHR social-workers decide if Willie has broken any Pilipinas laws.

    • UP nn grad

      … plus, of course, that great-equalizer called individual action. So ManuelB whispering into Ochoa’s ears about some deputy Ombudsman’s laziness or tax-returns — legitimate. A corporation is an individual, so the CBCP pulling its advertising out of Willie’s show is legitimate; likewise the CBCP asking Mercury drug to pull its advertisements away from, or asking Mercury Drug not to sell condoms — legitimate.

      • plus, of course, UPn propagating his profound views is the great equalizer. Where would civilization be without his intellect and wisdom?

    • I agree. I think Willie’s fans should respect the opinions of those who do not like him

      • UP nn grad

        hindi ba dapat, iyong may angal ang dapat magtrabaho? Tingnan mo si si Noynoy angal ng angal about “GMA graft corruption”, tama na pinupursugi niya ang EO/Truth Commission-2010, at kung paltos iyon, ang susunod TruthCom 2011 at BIR tax investigations here or there plus “Merci-merci, talsik diyan!”

        Kung gusto ni ManuelB ay “Willie-willie, talsik diyan!”, bakit ang tinitingnan niyang tumulong ay ang mga bilib-sampalataya kay Willie… medyo does not make sense (.. sa akin, my individual opinion). Ang bulung-bulungan (my personal opinion) ay si deLima at maghanap ng butas para maisara iyong TV show ni Willie-Willie.

        • “Kung gusto ni ManuelB ay “Willie-willie, talsik diyan!”, bakit ang tinitingnan niyang tumulong ay ang mga bilib-sampalataya kay Willie… medyo does not make sense (.. sa akin, my individual opinion).”

          Eh sino pa ang tutulong kung hindi yun bilib sa kanya? Ako ayaw ko nang talsik dyan si Willie magmula nung pinahayag niya na ipagpapatuloy niya ang magbigay ng saya at pagasa kahit wala siya ni isang sponsor, kahit manggaling ang perang ipamimigay sa mahirap mula sa nulsa niya at ni Manny Pangilinan. Gusto kong tulungan si Willie itupad ang pangako niya.

          “Ang bulung-bulungan (my personal opinion) ay si deLima at maghanap ng butas para maisara iyong TV show ni Willie-Willie”

          Ang bulung-bulungan requires more than one person so to put “my personal opinion” in parenthesis after typing “ang bulung-bulungan” seems to me medyo does not sense.

          Ngunit kung madalas ang isang tao makipag bulung-bulungan sa sarili niya eh ibang istorya na yan at medyo it will make to get psychiatric help na.

      • To be fair, Willie’s critics must also be sensitive (to a degree) of his fans and followers. We can disagree all day, but I think we should limit the criticism to Willie and his actions, and try not to point out his excessive character flaws. You can go to jail for child abuse, but you can’t go to jail for being a deeply flawed creature.

  • GabbyD

    ““Randy David defines how it is to help:”It must focus on enhancing capacities of people or helping them help themselves rather than merely attending to their short-term needs.” ”

    why is this the only meaning of help? can’t we help in our own way?

    nines, i agree that this is the “better” kind of help.

    that doesnt doesnt mean that , if you dont do this, you are necessarily “hurting” (vs helping)

  • macky

    Merong akong karapatan sabihin na umalis si willie, yung nga lang wala akong authority para sundin ni willie yun.

    Kung karapatan lang, meron ako. dahil opinion ko yan at public figure sya.

    Ang problema kay willie lumaki masyado ang ulo nya, kaya sya binitawan ng abscbn, maganda sana ang show na nag bibigay ng kaligayahan sa mga tao, kaya lang inaabuso na ito at ine exploit na nila ang kahirapan ng tao para gumana ng viewers at revenue.

    Dati pa naman obvious naman na hindi talga galing sa puso ang pag bibigay nya ng pa premyo at kita naman sa mukha nya ang insenseridad nya (artista sya daat advantage nya yon, pero hindi eh, basura naman kasi sya as an “artist” to start with). pwede natin palampasin yon, kaya lang, sadyang lumaki na talga ang ulo nya at akala nya kung sino syang nilalang kung makapag asta sa TV.

  • Nelson

    si Senator koki pangilinan, nakikisali, gusto rin ma expose ang pangalan, bakit ka i sue ni willie, papasikatin ka lang niya, i”ll bet you tatalunin ka ni manny villar dahil dikit sya ni willie, kita mo na expose si manny villar dahil sa pagtulong niya sa mahihirap, ikaw mayroon ka bang style na ganyan, tsaka huwag kang gaya gaya, willie he should go, salita ni obama iyan e, kay momar. wala kang karapatan para sabihin mo kay willie na dapat na syang umalis dahil ba natatabunan din ang show ng misis mo, hindi nag re rate, Utak crab ka kiko, may isang programang nakakatuwa at same time may mga malalaking papremyo, house in lot, money at kotse only in willing willie show. tapos isa ka CRAB MENTALITY. umaasenso ang isang programa hihilahin mong pababa, at gusto mo pa syang umalis, alam ko ang sagot ni willie sa you kiss my a_S. sino ka ba para diktahan mo sya. hindi ba? tumahimik ka na lang at panoorin mo ang show ng misis mo.

    • cipriana b. lee

      kiko p hindi ka puedeng maging senate pres, ayaw ni tito sen sotto kaya umiyak si sharon ,wala kang alam kundi makisawsaw ,si sharon matagal ng host singer pero bakit ganoon naungusan ni willie sa popularidad at kayamanan ,dahil sa iyo kiko hinila mo pababa si sharon at ngayon gusto mo hilahin si willie pababa

  • Another sign of how that guy’s head is just gonna get bigger and bigger the more controversy this kind crap that we get from him.