Entertainment

A captive of Captive

Gritty, in-your-face, a mirror of Philippine society. These are some of the words I associate with Brilliante Mendoza’s films. This director doesn’t mollycoddle the viewers that’s for sure. He paints reality as how he sees it – no more, no less – and hopes that by showing the ugly reality, his films would somehow serve as a vehicle for change.

Captive is no different from his other films. The 2 and a half hour film is based on the Dos Palmas kidnapping of missionaries and Filipinos by the Abu Sayyaf group more than a decade ago. Most of the events in the film really happened, about 25% were added for dramatic purposes and to help the story move but they’re mostly fictional characters and scenes. One of the fictional characters is Therese Bourgoine, played by French actress Isabelle Huppert, whose perspective it is we watch. Bourgoine is a missionary who was abducted together with her motherly companion Anita Linda, two other foreign missionaries, and tourists of Dos Palmas Resort. The story progresses with ransoms paid, captives freed, captives killed, and even a Stockholm syndrome which was surprising but actually happened between a tourist and one of the Abu Sayyaf bandits back in 2001. Brilliante Mendoza used many of his staple actors like Ronnie Lazaro, Coco Martin, Sid Lucero, etc. The acting wasn’t stellar for some however because they were overshadowed by Huppert and the more commanding Raymond Bagatsing and Ronnie Lazaro.

The film made me squirm the whole time as Brilliante captured the harsh realities of kidnap-for-ransom, religious fanaticism, terrorism, and the government’s indifference neigh shady cooperation with the kidnappers for a share of the ransom money because these facts are hard to swallow, but in the back of the Filipinos’ collective mind, they all ring true.

What amazed me about Captive is Brilliante’s research on what really transpired that ghastly 18 months and how he was able to show as much details in the 25 days he shot the film. That’s saying a lot about how talented and organized he is. My film experiences scream that such a film is impossible to shoot in 25 days but Briliante was able to do so. Not only that, he made everything seem believable. I thought the film was shot in Basilan but he admitted to us that the locations were in Batangas and Quezon.

Captive will premiere at SM Pampanga, Brilliante Mendoza’s hometown, on September 2, 2012. There will also be a Manila gala premiere in Greenbelt 3 the next day. Regular screening at SM Cinemas and Greenbelt will begin on September 5, 2012.

Terno at Ten

I pose ten questions to Toti Dalmacion, head of Terno Recordings, which marks its “tenth” anniversary this year with a concert featuring the French indie pop sensation, Tahiti 80.


Q1: What made you think of starting your own record label back in 2001?

Technically it was around 2003, but the thought of starting my own label has been around since high school, and that’s in the 80’s for those who don’t know. Anyway, I jumped the gun by a year, calling it the “10th” anniversary, because we never had an anniversary, ever; and well, the world is supposed to end next year!

Q2: Did you draw inspiration from the main character of Nick Hornby’s book High Fidelity (Rob Gordon) who went from owning a record store to starting a label? Like him you owned a record bar.

Actually, it’s the other way around. I might have been his inspiration because the story is just so autobiographically spot-on; it’s uncanny! Seriously, it was inevitable, really, and the most natural progression for me.

Q3: Is there a particular Terno Recordings sound or ethos? How would you go about recruiting bands; or perhaps more to the point, what do you look for in a band before signing them?

At the start, it was supposed to be strictly “indie pop” in the jangly and twee sense, but being that I really like all sorts of music under the “indie” umbrella, it became more of a varied bunch.

I never really made it a point to seek bands. They’re mostly recommended, or I chance upon them, or they approach me. I look for good material first and foremost, and if that’s not apparent, then at least good musicianship which can be developed with some guidance from me. Or if the band has neither of those two, then it has to have some interesting quality which hopefully translates onstage.

Q4: The diversity and breadth of talent under Terno is truly amazing. They seem to appeal to different niches that no one in the local scene seems to be serving at the moment. Is that your basic strategy? To tap into those unserved sections of the market?

It is the basic strategy particularly because I wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s just me and my penchant for being different. I don’t think I’d get a band that’s a dime a dozen in the scene or just typical. I have made some decisions and choices before wherein I chose to deviate from this to adjust to the bigger market or play the local music industry game a bit, and I’ve suffered for it. But yes, I’m interested in those bands or segments that no other record company, major or independent would want to touch with a ten foot pole… as long as they tickle my fancy.

I don’t really tailor fit or plan according to the “market” here. Crazy as it may sound, I’m my own market in the sense that other similar individuals who are more adventurous and open to new ideas and sounds will tune in to the same thing. They’re out there. Not in the millions, yes, but there’s THAT market for sure.

Q5: What were the obstacles and challenges you faced in building the Terno label at the onset?

The major difficulty has always been money. It was then, as it is now. Terno’s not making money because it’s purely about the music first and business second, being pro-artist in the creative sense as well. It’s that passion for music that’s fuelling it. If Terno was probably a label abroad then we would see financial rewards due to the size of what being ‘niche” there is.

Here, with piracy, illegal downloads and my 50-50 policy with bands–and as an aside, I don’t even own the material forever–makes it difficult for me to recoup my investments, but somehow we find ways to get around that and continue. Terno could use some funding, definitely, and it should be bigger; but for the past years, it’s more about the passion, blood, sweat and tears.

Q6: What would you say were the major milestones or memorable moments in building the label?

I really think the initial label gigs, TERNO AU-GO-GO, held quarterly from 2005 to 2006, were a huge factor in creating the buzz for the label and the hype for the bands. Up Dharma Down for example gained their initial audience from Terno Au Go Go then, creating the buzz that propelled them. So, yeah, the early days were very memorable when we would pack Saguijo with 500-700 people with the crowd spilling out on to the street.

Early days: an old poster promoting Terno Au Go Go, the quarterly event that was instrumental in generating a buzz for Terno artists like Up Dharma Down.

It’s still fun these days, doing the various Terno nights in other venues and at Saguijo wherein I’m told Terno’s is still the biggest draw. It’s a continuous process building the label and the bands on the roster, and this is done through the gigs. I don’t really feature anyone outside of the roster, except for opening slots for aspirants and new bands who want some help. Terno is not a “prod” wherein I get big name bands to pull in the crowd. As you can see, it’s triple the effort for Terno ever since, just relying on its own roster.

Terno just promotes those who are on Terno, and we build our audience as we go along. Amazingly, it does grow with new faces every year joining the die hards. Other than that, it’s the recognition the label gets for pushing the envelope. As far as milestones are concerned, Terno has loads of medals and accolades. Hopefully, money follows at some point.

Q7: Can you compare the domestic scene from when Terno began a decade ago and the present? Have there been major gains as far as the music and the audience are concerned?

There was definitely more of the usual then and not many of the new and global sounding acts. Typical Pinoy rock and “opm” but that has changed and presently, there’s a plethora of new bands that are fearless with their music, knowing they will not reach a wider audience but still having a go at their dreams.

Music appreciation has definitely improved from what I’ve seen when we’re booked for other events, at schools, etc. As far as the Terno audience goes though, it has always been about the music, and you really feel and see it via the gigs where people really “listen” to the bands playing.

Q8: What changes would you still like to see in the future as far as the music scene is concerned?

(I would like to see) Help from the government via grants, especially for acts that have the potential to reach a wider international audience as is the case with most Terno artists, to be able to tour abroad. It’s connected to tourism as well as these bands represent the country wherever they go. Other changes might just include raising standards, really: raising the benchmark for good quality in order to really compete with what’s out there.

Q9: For your tenth anniversary, you have chosen to bring in a French indie pop band, Tahiti 80. Why Tahiti 80?

Well, there are loads of other favorite foreign acts of mine that I could have brought in. The Blue Nile for instance would’ve been a nice coup or The Wedding Present. Paul Weller–I wouldn’t be able to afford. XTC’s out of the question but I wanted a band that was neither too “in” nor too new and current. An act, that had longevity and made very good, accessible pop songs that were of good quality. Not pop in the Black Eyed Peas sense but good, timeless pop that grabs the ear easily at first listen.

There’s but a limited number of bands, who are consistent like that, and with Tahiti 80, I was supposed to bring them in as far back 2007 and the years that succeeded, but I didn’t have the funding or the sponsors. (It was) Not much different this time around, but I figured why not grab the bull by the horns and celebrate Terno’s existence with a really good, credible fun band. Not commercial enough but not too underground, ear friendly for first-time and/or female listeners. Just as an aside, 95% of the ticket reservations so far have been made by women who make up quite a chunk of Terno’s audience.

Q10: After these ten years, what’s next for Terno Recordings?

Hopefully, we continue to trudge on, make some money, and put out more good stuff, not just for the local market but for an international one and really put the Philippines on the map, cliché as that may sound…. Well there’s that and the further fuelling of my ‘messianic complex’, ha-ha!

After all these years, Toti Dalmacion’s passion and determination seem just as fervent as ever. There aren’t that many individuals in the Philippine music scene who have contributed to the flourishing of new talent while sticking to their principles the way he has. If the last ten years is anything to go by, we can expect much more creative talent to blossom from his label in the future.

In celebration of Terno Recordings’ “tenth” anniversary, Tahiti 80 will be playing for one night in October, Friday the 21st at The Tents, Alphaland / Southgate. They will be supported by Terno’s very own Up Dharma Down and Radio Active Sago Project. 

Forget Paris

Sex and politics have been front and center in recent days.

Three controversial events have brought sex and politics to the forefront of the news recently. First, the installation of artist Mideo Cruz of a crucifix and a penis drew the ire of the Catholic faithful, art patron Imelda Marcos and the president himself. Congressmen and Senators have opportunistically gotten on the bandwagon breathing fire into the debating embers of our society.

Second, the inclusion of the RH now RP Bill on reproductive health and responsible parenthood by the president along with a dozen other bills in his proposed legislative agenda for Congress to consider. His willingness to work in a bi-partisan way with the sponsors of the bill and with the clergy is a mark of true statesmanship.

Third, the faux pas committed by a reputable news agency in sewing confusion over whether Hollywood celebrity and hotel heiress Paris Hilton would meet with PNoy during her visit to the Philippines gained much oxygen when Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte deemed it necessary to deny such reports via Twitter.

As the title of this piece suggests, this is all about the third event.

After all the serious debates and theological arguments surrounding art and religion or sex and religion, the light-hearted controversy of such “girly goss” is probably a very welcome distraction. The timing of it could not have been better planned in my opinion. I am not suggesting that it was (planned), but I sense a certain tendency among palace officials to boost the president’s “macho image” every chance they get at times.

Fanning speculation

Remember the photo released of him and a lady having a lively night on the town with some of his communications people in the background? This came after the president had been linked to an image consultant within his own team. The porsche incident also portrayed the president as an avid motoring enthusiast.

This of course back-fired, but initially the president did not mind telling the press that the sportscar brought a large smile to his face. Similarly, the president’s fondness with guns caught some attention, and then back-fired on him (no pun intended) when his shooting gallery buddies whom he had appointed to sensitive posts got caught up in some unflattering situations.

I also recall reading an article a while back (but can’t find the link right now) in which Budget Sec Butch Abad admitted to feeding the press stories about PNoy’s supposed links to certain female celebrities during the election season. This was a bid on his part to boost the president’s own status among voters. Abad was then a ranking member of the president’s campaign team.

In a country where tobacco chomping generals, philandering husbands and strict authoritarians are considered top dog, it wouldn’t hurt to project the image of a swinging bachelor this time around…or would it? I think it sometimes runs counter to the other messages that the palace wants to send. What made PNoy so appealing to the electorate was that his persona gave a strong contrast to the often flambuoyant or charismatic character of other prominent leaders.

He was in effect, in a world full of Pepsis and Cokes, the “uncola”. His simple, mild manner contrasted with the extravagant wining and dining of his predecessor. He was patterned after his mum, a president who rode the same car when she first strode into the palace and when she stepped down from it. His geeky, balding and awkward demeanor were just the sort of antidote the country needed at the time when the field was full of bombastic individuals with sexy dancers and starlets in tow.

It is quite understandable though that given our country’s fascination with Hollywood that the media advisers surrounding him would want to engage with that side of our culture. After all, most people tune out when conversations turn to politics, religion or the economy. It is also quite understandable for the president to want to have a social life despite the heavy demands of his job (or even because of it).

Alpha males and eunuchs

This could all be considered a natural consequence of taking the reins. A study found that certain candidates (and their supporters) seem to experience a sudden boost of testosterone after winning a contest. Behavioral and evolutionary scientists link this to the pattern among animals where males fight over the right to spread their seed among the females in the pack. The rise in testosterone is perhaps a biological response in anticipation of the reproductive demands that come with being alpha male.

So perhaps, the country with its adherence to macho, feudal and primeval culture has not evolved all that much from this primitive state? Perhaps.

But there is one reason why I believe we need to celebrate the “single-blessedness” of the president and some of his men. In his most recent book, The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution, Francis Fukuyama describes how the Catholic Church’s insistence on priestly celibacy gave European societies an edge in developing the rule of law and how it was vital in the battle against corruption and rent-seeking within the church.

In societies at the lower wrung of political development, kinship is the primary criterion for conferring wealth, status and power. Fukuyama points out the role of celibacy in shielding the state from the patrimonialism and nepotism of tribal clans. From the imperial eunuchs under the Qin dynasty in China to the Mamluk warriors in the Sultanate of Egypt and the Janissaries, elite slaves of the Ottoman Empire, celibate public servants and warriors were used for this purpose.

It is perhaps not coincidental that the political movement that seeks to remove the artefacts of wang-wang culture and replace it with the rule of law should be so influenced by a small band of single brethren, the president himself being chief among them (either they are single or they are married to such wealthy women of substance, freeing them from the need for material accumulation allowing them to focus instead on the interests of the people).

Perhaps it is a mark of our political development as a nation that such a class of individuals has risen to the top. I hope it is an antecedent to our turning a corner on the rule of law. It goes against our political, cultural and biological programming, but I for one am glad that the president is able to refuse to go Hollywood on us by saying to the press corps, “hey, why don’t we just focus on affairs of the state and simply ‘forget Paris’.”

A-Stig-matics, pare!

“Here’s a song, baby, and I sing it to you” goes the opening line of the opening track from Straight Down the Bitter End the freshman album of the concept band Stigmatics under Terno Recordings the indie outfit of Toti Dalmacion which is based in the Philippines (hence the flag in the photo).

The duo is comprised of Grandi0s0, musical alchemist who manages the instruments and vocalist funb0y. With a name like theirs, you truly wonder what sort of scars both psychological and spiritual they intend to expose. No wonder these evil geniuses prefer to use stagenames in lieu of their true identities.

With its ominous sounding synths providing an eerie prelude for what is to come, you are swept in to the narrative as you get a sense of the pain, regret, and yes, the angst the tragic artist feels. This is vaudevillian rock at its finest: a confession set to music by “a broken man, without anymore plans” who is “only good for singing my blues.”

The wide expanse opened up by the “sinister-soul-blues” genre pioneered byGrandi0s0 the other half of the more popish sounding Dr StrangeLuv undulates naturally. Most of the songs in between the opener entitled Song and Dance Man and the closer to this opus Save Me switches frequently from the sonic pace of punk infused barbarity to the quaint, laid back style of country-Western laconicity.

These alternating currents charge the entire album and provide it with the tempo to carry you through all of fifteen tracks. The psychological journey involves ecstatic highs and the dolldroms of despondent lows.

It kicks into full gear with the tandem Killing Spree and Guilty Conscience. In their Facebook bio, the band writes that their music would not “sound out of place in Sergio Leone and Tarantino flicks”. This is the impression one gets from this initial pair of songs.

This Twisted Toxic Thing Love goes from a Pulp-styled techno-sounding indie rock song and morphs into a Euro-inspired dance inferno which you would expect to hear on the dancefloor of a Russian disco: futuristic and nostalgic at the same time.

The same kind of twist is spun on Something Got Lost Somewhere and Walking Down My Baby’s Street. The psychedellic space age vibe one gets particularly with the latter is utterly catchy and danceable, dare I say, like a B-52’s song on steroids.

Blinding Light is monotonic, repetitive, and sinister as it calls on you to “pick up the pieces, clean up the mess…give it a rest.” Vocalist funb0y on much of the album does not so much as sing his lines as much as recite them in a droll reminiscent at times of Johnny Cash, Lou Reed or Nick Cave depending on the mood he is in, I suppose.

Nightsong with its reggae beat is an interlude for the entire album. It is a perfect accompaniment for any nocturnal journey inviting the ghosts of the artist or whoever is listening to come out and haunt him as he makes his way through a thick forest of painful memories. No wonder he attempts to “drink the wine of forgetfulness.”

The second act revs up with Metamphetamine Blues. Indeed much of this album sounds a lot like a drug induced hallucination complete with frantic highs mixed with crashing waves spiralling out of control. The industrial guitar riffs and whiney solos mixed with sampled spoken word would make William S Burroughs or Tom Waits proud.  The disintegrating cacauphony that unravels gives you a mental image of a wax museum at 100 degrees or a conflagrating super-8 film.

At the troughs, confrontations with reality occur as in My Heart is Famished which evokes a gospelly church setting with its moog organic feel replete with gonging bells. An intervention seems to be occuring here with the artist conversing repentantly with his mother and then his sister.

The final act brings things to a head with the Blues Brotherly baseline of God’s Eye ushering you into the final scene. The translike mumbling of funb0y here weaves in and out of the sonic effects of guitars, synth recordings and samples in a confused frenetic manner.

With Save Me, we return to the ballady feel of the opening track. I can’t help but make comparisons once again to Nick Cave as the artist repetitively implores in mantra-like fashion the object of his desire to save him from “the darkness inside of me”. The sense of impending doom is apparent. He is right on the cusp of ending it all: totally cathartic. My only suggestion is that perhaps in their next album, the band might give this muse a voice to provide a complementary perspective.

And then finally in This is My Home, very much an epilogue, you are left with the remnants of the conflict. Perhaps in the end, a sense of acceptance and contentment emerges, with the artist acknowledging “I should have been dead” as he waltzes you off into a happy oblivion.

All in all, Straight Down the Bitter End chronicles the journey of a man who has been to the other end and back: a Nietzchean tale of someone who has stared into the abyss and self-destructingly recreated himself.

A grandiose design accomplished that should be given a listening ear by anyone open enough to explore such mental states and frames. It makes me nod with approval, as I admiringly pronounce Stigmatics a band that is well and truly astig (Philippine colloquial for super-cool)!

Green Lantern is good clean family fun movie

Do you have the ability to overcome fear?  This is the premise of Green Lantern.  The movie is a space opera.  Green Lanterns are space cops.  It is ridiculous enough to say it, they get their power from a power ring and “green lantern” battery.  There have been many reviews of Green Lantern.  Mixed review of a movie, and many of the geeks who have seen it aren’t pleased.  To expect this movie to surpass “The Dark Knight” in storytelling will only disappoint you.  To expect his movie to live up to the genius of Geoff Johns, would also disappoint you.  The movie is better than Thor, but it does not reach for greatness.

There are many things “wrong” with the movie in the “technical” sense.  It just isn’t clever writing that has thrilled readers for years.  Yet the story captures the essence of who these characters are in the book.  The CGI was something we could expect from movies these days.  The score also captured the essence of the movie and of the characters.

Ryan Reynolds who plays the protagonist, Hal Jordan is more than suited for the role.  He brought the right level of comedy and angst, and arrogance.  The script was decent enough to show the essence of character.  A Green Lantern isn’t without fear, he just has the ability to overcome it.

The lead actress, Carol Ferris as played by Blake Lively was also written well, and written to perfection.  There was just enough moments to show her heartbreak, and her love for Hal.  Other critics have said that Lively wasn’t perfect for the role. I beg to disagree. She was vulnerable, smart, savvy, and feminine.  She also was able to rescue Jordan in an important scene.

The script also got the Lanterns right.  There was Sinestro, Kilowog, and Tomar Re.  The awesomeness of getting them on screen was that spectacular.

Many geeks have argued that Green Lantern was too much talky.  This is a weakness of the script. And I have to agree with the Multiverse, it was as if the writers didn’t think the audience could get it that this was a man with a magic ring that the script kept spoon feeding the audeince.  In many ways it was a history lesson.   And maybe that was the problem for Comic Book readers.  We expected to be wow’d in the same level we are wow’d by Geoff Johns’ words in the series.

There were instances that were gems.  The script touched on dad and children relationships. Like Jordan’s and Hector’s.  It barely touched on Carol’s relationship with his own father, which is also a shame.  Another gem of course is Lively’s performance of the heartbroken Ferris.  It was also great that Lively’s character, Ferris was able to see through the Green Lantern mask.  Carol Ferris is no Lois Lane.  Also the inclusion of Amanda Waller was a good one, which I hope is a start that she would appear in other DC live action movies.

As I mentioned, if you were expecting the level of storytelling sophistication to rival “The Dark Knight”, for Green Lantern, then you will be disappointed.   For the most part, the plot is dull, and slow.  It is hard to relate to a big gigantic cloud for a foe.  The story though isn’t terrible like Jonah Hex or the Priest, but it isn’t awesomeness either.  Yes, even the gorgeous Blake Lively, or the many easter eggs sprinkled throughout the movie couldn’t make it a great one. They just prevented it from being a bad movie. It is in a word, ordinary, yet fun enough that people ought to go see two hours with their kids.

Should DC make a sequel?  Yes it should, but it should keep the cast, and have better writing that doesn’t dumb down the material for the audience too much.  People did get The Matrix, and the Dark Knight, they ought to get Green Lantern too.

Image credit: DC Entertainment

Time for some strange luvin’

It is not that hard to picture the lads of Dr StrangeLuv a band out of Laguna in the “greater” part of the Greater Manila Area, trudging along the terrain of their suburban environs like the mythological Sysyphus moving back and forth from home to school to mall to church and so on for all eternity. Sissypuss their debut album is no doubt inspired by such travails.

The duo comprised of the “obnoxious brothers” Grandioso and El Scum aka “the Ingenious Bastards” are the strangest thing to come out of Manila’s outer rim of late. It is out in suburbia where bands like this (Pavement that quintessential alternative rock band out of Stockton, California being a prime example), comprised of perfectly normal kids isolated from the city-center, with loads of time on their hands, are able to lazily stumble into a sound that teases out the mundaneness, absurdity and sinister aspects of middle class existence.

Sissypuss their freshman effort can only be described as a dis-assemblage and repackaging of various cultural forms both musical and lyrical into a strange but familiar mix. In it, a lo-fi quality is layered with complex samples and sonic punk melodies. It’s sort of Fantastic Plastic Machine meets Beck.

The closest comparison the band claims their listeners make of them is with American indie band, Guided by Voices, but for me that is too superficial a comparison. As I mentioned, their style is really a pastiche of different musical artifacts from different periods.

In Be the Boss a kind of country twang is combined with an almost spoken word-ish delivery and some funky guitar riffs reminiscent of the Velvet Underground. In Aight’ Ma, their lead vocalist mimics Bob Dylan. In one track I listened to at the maiden voyage of The Show with No Name (SND.FM) their sound approximated an apocalyptic Johnny Cash.

They describe their style as “space age blues funk and anti-folk”. Nowhere is this more evident than in Gimme Some Mo’. It is a track that could provide the auditory background to a scene in a Quentin Tarantino movie (you know d

uring that part where the villain is about to cut off an appendage from a hapless bystander). A clever fusion of disparate elements that creates a cinematic feel to it.

This visual appeal is maintained in I’m Still Breathing where they serve up a dreamy sound track that conjures up a starry scene from a Western flick where the cowboy rides off into the sunset, in this instance brandishing an electronic raygun flashing in the darkening skies.

Some might say it is inappropriate to compare music to film, but with Dr StrangeLuv I think it is inescapable and what makes their debut so triumphant. In dreaming up Sissypuss, visual imagery and atmospherics serve as just as important an aesthetic reference point as chords and beats.

In this sense, listening to Sissypuss is like watching an indie flick comprised of disparate narratives woven into one. Each track represents a different scene with a unique sense of time and place. Some might regard this an ambitious effort for the newcomers, but in the end, the collection amazingly hangs well together.

(Dr StrangeLuv is the latest signing of Terno Recordings)

 

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?

 

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?