I rarely go off the topic of food and travel, but this time I just couldn't sit back and not say anything. As a soon to be father, the video of Willie Revillame and Jan-Jan, the little boy who was made to dance like a male stripper in front of the live studio audience was just too disgusting to be left alone.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch THIS VIDEO first.
First of all, I want to go on record to say that I have never EVER thought Willie Revillame possessed any semblance of talent. Have you heard any of his songs? He can't sing for crap. Hell, I'll even go on record as to say that I sing better than him. As a comedian? He's an obnoxious boor whose humor revolves around either A) Insulting someone's physical appearance or B) involving jokes with hidden sexual innuendos. That pretty much is the extent of his comedic repertoire. Not to mention, he's an ego maniac. Every business he has, bears his name. From a production house, or a building, or a shopping mall.. everything is Wil this or something with "Wil" in it.
But despite all that, I'm willing to put that all aside because the incident in the video had nothing to do with his (lack of) singing or comedic talents. It was Willie Revillame's lack of a single shred of human decency that has motivated me to write about him.
I'm sorry to say this (well maybe not really), but, for as long as he's been on TV, I've always thought that Willie Revillame was an ass. And this was waaaaaaay before his days in "MTB" when he, Randy Santiago, and John Estrada would get suspended for their green jokes. Those suspensions, by the way, were among the contributing factors to the demise of MTB. I saw him one time on a talk show with his "Friend" Nadia Montenegro (This is more than 15 years ago), and all he did was make fun of her weight. Whenever she would say something, he would interject something about her being fat. You could tell she was visibly getting pissed off, but it didn't seem to matter to him.
The only thing he was asked to do, during those days, was to refrain from vulgar jokes. But apparently, that was too much for him to do. Yet for some reason, despite all those suspensions, it was Willie Revillame that kept popping back in front of television.
How ridiculous is it that despite the fact that his actions helped lead to the downfall of the noontime show MTB, which for a time, was rated above the long running "Eat Bulaga", it was Willie Revillame that was given the show "Wowowwee", which would turn him into the "Messiah of the Masses" that he is today?
"Wowowee" (or however you spell it) worked this way: Cry in front of the live studio audience while telling your nation the sad story of your life, play a silly parlor game, and you'll win a prize. People believed that the money came straight out of Willie's pocket, but nope, sorry folks. The money came from the network.
The same network that forgave him time and time again, every time he would get suspended, or say something tactless and insensitive. The same network that he bolted, when they refused to fire a gossip writer that dared defy him and his ways. In a way, the problem that is Willie Revillame was created by ABS-CBN, simply because they enabled him for so long. They kept giving him slaps on the wrists, because they were also afraid of losing him. But if they never brought him back in the first place, they wouldn't have that multi-million peso lawsuit they have today, filed by their so-called former "Star".
To be fair, I don't want to touch on what he did during Cory's funeral, because I do believe he was misconstrued (See? I'm a fair guy). His arrogance just got the better of him, and his "good" intention came out all wrong.
Now that he's back on air on TV5 with his show "Willing Willie", he's back to his old antics. Taking less fortunate people, getting them to make fools of themselves for wads of money. That's fine, people do the strangest things to get on television, hoping its a way out for them. But when you subject a 6 year old boy to that sort of humiliation, that changes the ball game.
You could tell from the way the boy was dancing that he was embarrassed and maybe even scared.. Just as you would expect a 6 year old boy to be when placed in front of hundreds of people who are cheering you on.
While the boy was doing his "macho dance" (which was taught to him by his father by the way), you could see the look on his face - he was terrified. He was embarrassed. He did NOT want to be doing what he was doing.
So how did Willie, the idol of the masses, their benevolent Demi-God that they see as their ticket out of poverty, react?
By letting out a laugh so evil, it made Satan himself look like a cherub. He was even kind enough to point out to the people, (In case any one had missed it), "UMIIYAK PA YAN!" (He's even crying!).
Believe me when I say this - as much as I loathe Willy, had he had the decency to stop the boy from dancing when he saw him crying, and wipe his tears off, give him a hug, and send him on his way (with or without the prize money), he would have earned even the teeniest amount of respect from me. I wouldn't nominate him for Time's Man of The Year, but still, at least I would know that deep down, somewhere between all that filth, was an actual human being.
But we're talking about Willie Revillame here, folks. He is NOT a decent human being. Instead, he makes the boy do the dance over and over again. comparing him to the "Burlesque Queen" who cried while doing her strip tease. Of course, the only difference was, the Burlesque Queen, whether it was Vilma Santos or Ina Raymundo, were adults. Little Jan-Jan is six years old. He doesn't know any better. The man claims to be sympathetic to the plight of the "everyman", but when a little boy is already in tears, you make him go through that ordeal over and over again?
In the end, Willie closes the show with Jan-Jan perched high above the rising stage, doing his dance again, and Willie bragging to everyone about his new "Discovery". A star is born.
I don't want to accuse the father of anything, but the way his little boy cried while dancing made me think that he feared he would get hurt if he didn't do it.
The final straw for me, was when I read TV5's "Apology letter". Their apology claimed this:
So they gave three reasons, none of which faulted TV5 or Willie in any way. So which was it, TV5? Was it because he was serious about his.. umm... "role"? Was this 6 year old boy practicing Method acting ala Robert De Niro? Or was it because of his missing front teeth? Or was it because of the scary giant?
Seriously, TV5.. That's the best you could come up with? Couldn't you just have said, (in a more sincere way, of course) "We were insensitive, we are sorry, we won't do it again, all the proceeds of our next show with celebrity guests shall be donated to a kids foundation of their choice."? But to blame the little boy - that was totally disgusting.
To the people at TV5: The people who are angry at the way Jan-Jan was treated aren't going to buy that crap. I'm not one of the members of the Willing Willie mob that hangs on to every word your star says. I demand a better apology than that. Perhaps something with a little more logic, and even the smallest ounce of sincerity would be very much appreciated.
To Jan-Jan's aunt, whose life long dream has been to embrace Willie (she is living proof that if you dream big, and you are willing to offer up your 6 year old as pedophile bait on national TV, dreams do come true. Congratulations, by the way), how could you have let Jan-jan, whom you said you love so much, humiliate himself like that? You DID see the tears in his eyes, didn't you? Or were you too bedazzled by Willie's glorious visage that everything else shut down for you? You were so intent on getting your hug on with Willie that you practically zipped through your message to Jan-Jan, like it didn't matter, just to ask for your request for a little cuddle. I have an eerie feeling you weren't there as Jan-Jan's guardian. You were there for YOU and no one else. Oh, except for Willie, of course. But then again, you got your hug, and your three thousand, so you were set. (Did anyone else think she was waiting for more money when she started screaming and crying about her mother, hoping Willie would ask her further about her sob story, or was it just me?)
And just because Jan-Jan has the "talent" doesn't mean his family should have showcased him like a prized Pony, especially when that talent makes him look like a young exotic dancer. If my six year old son could rap the song, "Me So Horny" (wow, is that the best I could think of? I really need to know more rap songs.) in six different languages, with matching dance movements ala Jan-Jan, is that something I would be proud of? Something I would want the entire world to see? Don't get me wrong. Jan-Jan is a very talented little boy. I can't dance for crap but I recognize how good this little boy can be with proper training and continued practice. But there are so many dance styles to choose from - why teach him to dance like a stripper?
True, I'm sure Willie didn't think he was abusing the child when he was egging him on to dance like a stripper.. but you see, that's EXACTLY what the problem stemmed from - He didn't think he was abusing the child when he was egging him on to dance like a stripper. It SHOULD HAVE occurred to him.
He has children himself.
But then again, what he did to his wife, Liz Almoro, while she had their baby in her arms, is common knowledge (but of course, is lost upon his legions of fans), and his first wife wouldn't have filed for an annulment with the reason of "Psychological Incapacity" if the man had his head on straight, so maybe this shouldn't come as to a surprise to anyone anymore. Maybe expecting him to do a genuine UNSCRIPTED act of kindness was too much.
I know Willie's next move. Watch him tomorrow go on air and start crying that cry he does that has no tears, talking about how he does everything for the people - never for himself. Not for his mansions, yachts or sports cars. It's all for the people. The sad part is, it is very unlikely that the show will get cancelled or Willie will lose his job. He's the crown jewel of the network right now, and don't expect that to change anytime soon.
I'm just glad that DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman has acted on this incident and has already written TV5 a letter of reprimand. I hope other government agencies follow suit, because truth be told, Willie believes he can pretty much do anything he wants, and get away with it.
Willie Revillame, what you did was wrong, and handing the boy Ten Thousand pesos does not change that one bit. He was scared, and embarrassed. You had the capacity to end his humiliation. A chance to do the decent thing. But instead, you chose to exploit him.
For Shame, Willie Revillame. For Shame.
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