I didn’t want to click on the link and watch the clip. After all, I know how much of a jerk Willie Revillame is and how he’s done so many other outrageous things in the past. And while many immigrant Filipinos watch his show, I can’t even look at his face.
I know contempt isn’t something I should hold in my heart, but when it comes to this man, I really, really can’t help it. From the very start, he has always come across to me as a pompous fool who takes advantage of the impoverished to feed his star.
But last night my sister and I finally watched the clip. And couldn’t finish it. Yes, it was that bad.
For money Jan-Jan, a six-year-old boy, was brought to Revillame’s show. That alone rang a warning bell.
It started badly. The boy sent a shout out to his parents. As soon as he said his father worked in a parlor (salon), you could just imagine Revillame’s eyes start to gleam. Like a predator, he honed in on something he suddenly realized he could exploit for cheap laughter. He started making insinuations about the father, and the audience responded as expected.
This aunt, whom Jan-Jan acknowledged with what I thought was fear and ready tears in his eyes, was a Revillame fan. As she was introduced, she asked for permission to hug him. It was her long-held dream, she said, to hold him. He let her, then gave her money. I watched his face as he received the woman’s adulation. Smug and proud, the man acted like he truly deserved this. And more. Sick, I tell you. Sick.
So the little boy was made to dance–repeatedly–like a stripper, to the amusement of Revillame and the brainless chortling of the audience. And the repeated oily platitudes dripping from the man’s mouth. You can watch the clip on You Tube. Grab a barf bag if you do.
As much as I hated what happened, I wasn’t going to say anything. I didn’t want to add to the attention the guy was getting. After all, he looked like he loved publicity, good or bad. And he has survived other controversies before, emerging barely unscathed. It looked like the money he was bringing in would keep talking and drown out the voices of decency and respect.
But then I read what others had to say. And I figured, what the heck, it may be a losing fight but I’ve never been one to sit on the fence on anything that touched my heart. So I’m adding my voice, and my blog, to those who are speaking up against the man. Maybe, just maybe, he will leave.
But I was also thinking–it is the audience and viewers who give Revillame his platform. Without them, the advertisers and then the network would drop him like they would the newspaper print used to wrap yesterday’s rotting fish. Which is the equivalent of his actions.
So you have to think about the implications of fact. Has our nation’s grinding poverty really reduced us to this–that we should easily trade common decency for a few cheap laughs and the chance to take home a few hundred pesos?
If the answer to this is yes, I must rest my case. There’s nothing I can say to that. After all, I partly hesitate to even ask the question because unlike many of my fellow Filipinos, I know where tomorrow’s bread is coming from.
But then, I also know many who are less fortunate and yet show more dignity and respect for hard work than I could ever have in my little finger. So really, it’s not a question of poverty.
It’s a question of how much our nation really values decency and the worth of others, particularly of our women and children. The answer to this will determine whether men like Revillame will continue to rule from their staged thrones.
I know our country has bigger problems to solve. But in the working and the worrying, let’s not forget about children like Jan-Jan nor allow a fool like Revillame to make bigger fools of us all.