Last update: April 06 2011, 11:56 PM

What about you, MVP?

April 05, 2011

WORD HAS it that a couple of big advertisers, including a leading fast food company, have pulled out their TV ads from “Willing Willie.” This may be the result of an online campaign to convince the advertisers to show their displeasure with the way host Willie Revillame treated six-year-old Jan-Jan, the boy he forced to perform a sexy dance on TV in exchange for P10,000.

During that episode and later, Revillame with the boy’s parents even tried to show that the cash reward justified the boy’s repeated humiliation. But in fact paying for the boy’s performance only made things worse, with the element of exploitation, if not prostitution, thrown in.

So even if the advertisers may have been pressured by earnest pleas to withdraw their support from the show, including a threatened boycott, I could also believe that they were motivated by self-interest. Advertisers I know are quite choosy about shows that not only rate well but also reflect the qualities they want to be associated with. Child abuse and exploitation are certainly not desirable qualities for a consumer product!

This won’t be the first time that pressure has been exerted on a show’s producers and the broadcast station by its advertisers. Some years back, I remember advertisers of a leading noontime show banding together and demanding the axing of an offensive segment or else they would all pull out their ads. That segment, which involved contestants ingesting all sorts of disgusting forms of life for the prize money, was immediately taken off the show. Why can’t the remaining advertisers do that to “Willing Willie” now?

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SOME reactions to the tempest raised by Jan-Jan’s macho dancing on the show are baffling, to say the least. A prominent entertainment columnist, for instance, reacting to Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman’s letter expressing concern for Jan-Jan’s welfare, wants to know what the secretary plans to do about street children. As if raising one’s concern about Jan-Jan negates any concern or action about the problems of other poor Filipinos, including street children.

Nothing stops Soliman from doing something about the street children proliferating on the streets of Metro Manila and other urban centers—and I’m sure the DSWD already has programs in place for them. And just because she was moved enough to write a letter about the plight of one six-year-old boy, doesn’t mean she can no longer look after other children in need. And is it so wrong to be concerned about a single child?

I would think Soliman, as well as CHR Chair Etta Rosales, should be commended for responding to the plight of one child who symbolizes millions of other children abused by their parents (who think they can do with their children as they please), exploited as cheap entertainment by giant broadcasting outfits, and humiliated by a billionaire TV host egged on by an uncaring audience.

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IN A letter to Channel 5’s Manuel V. Pangilinan, culture critic John Silva asked the wealthy tycoon what kind of a hold Willie Revillame had on him that he would sacrifice his good name, his reputation and his history of accomplishments just to keep Revillame on his (so-far) unprofitable station.

There are greater things than money, for sure. There is, for instance, the credibility of not just a TV station but of a conglomerate. People need to know that the businesses the conglomerate engages in will serve the public good, will provide products of quality and worth, will not be shoddy or harm consumers in any way.

And more than toxic materials, unsafe production methods or deceitful promotions, it is poisonous ideas and behavior that erode our culture’s values and morals that present the greatest threats to the Filipino public.

I would think Pangilinan, and the companies he heads, would be aware of that. So why are they still allowing Revillame to represent them?

* * *

YOU have until Sept. 15 to nominate your favorite senior citizen for the “Sampung Ulirang Nakatatanda (10 Model Seniors) Awards” of the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE).

The awards have been around for the past 21 years, with awardees from all over the country, with most of them generally coming from the basic sectors like farmers, lumad (indigenous communities), women, the differently abled, urban poor. A few well-known individuals have also been recognized, among them Bishop Antonio Fortich, Atang dela Rama Sr. Mariani Dimaranan. Majority of the awardees have been women.

To qualify, a nominee need only be over 60 years old, have served the community for a large portion of his/her life, and nominated by the group he/she serves. Nominations should contain the nominee’s basic data (age, address, etc.) plus a one-page write-up on the nominee’s achievements and form of service.

COSE will shoulder the round-trip transportation expenses, accommodations and a cash prize for the winners, who will also each get a carved trophy. COSE also invites as jurors representatives of government agencies and NGOs to select the 10 awardees.

During the awards night, awardees usually give a short response. Ed Gerlock of COSE says this is usually the “most inspirational” part of the entire program. One Muslim community health worker from Tawi-Tawi, unable to speak Tagalog or English, performed a beautiful Muslim dance in lieu of a speech. Another awardee, who had spent the greater part of his life at the service of leprosy patients, remarked: “I think you have given the award to the wrong person—people with leprosy taught me more than I could ever have taught them.”

The awards night falls on the first Sunday of October.

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