writings, projects and exhibitions of Clarissa Chikiamco

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Condemning the incident of child abuse on "Willing Willie"

Normally I reserve my posts for updates on art matters.

However, as a member of the Philippine media, I feel it is important to state my thorough condemnation of the incident on the Willing Willie TV show earlier this month on channel TV-5. In the March 12 episode, 6-year old little boy Jan-Jan cries as he gyrates and does a sexy macho dance to the raucous delight of the audience and notably the show's host Willie Revillame. Jan-Jan is obviously visibly upset while performing but, from a family of very limited means, he does this for the promise of cash (those who hope to appear on this show and who watch it are usually from the lower income demographic). TV host Revillame noted himself in between his bouts of laughter, "Ganyan ho ang hirap ng buhay ng tao. Jan-Jan... sasayaw bilang macho dancer sa edad niyang 'yan para sa kanyang mahal na pamilya. Pinahanga mo ako, Jan-Jan." ("That's how hard life is. Young as he is, Jan-Jan will dance like a macho dancer for his beloved family. You've impressed me, Jan-Jan.") Revillame sees and points to Jan-Jan's distress while continuing to laugh and encouraging Jan-Jan to do the dance again. He gives Jan-Jan Php 10,000 (a little over $200) as reward (or payment or compensation, depending on your perspective).

As someone in the arts, I am used to shock tactics but this video has truly appalled and horrified me. It is also appalling that his parents see nothing wrong with this, as they said on a visit to the show the other day defending themselves and even calling Jan-Jan "talented." They had Jan-Jan perform again on the show as well his sister who seems to be 2-3 years old (in a dance with music which was not appropriate either). Revillame, on the other hand, seemed proud of the number of hits the video is garnering on youtube. His own apology smacked of insincerity as he said "there are more important issues which people should be concerning themselves with" and that "w
hat's important is that we were able to see that this family was made happy."

This incident truly pains me, particularly thinking that the paradigm of the parents - that there is nothing wrong here - could be widespread in this vastly poverty-afflicted nation.

I have more thoughts to share but will keep it here for now to update on this post later.


Carren said...

That is disturbing. :( I'm saddened that "mass media" would even condone this or allow it to happen. The lines are drawn and I can only hope no one crosses it again.

Clarissa Chikiamco said...

Yes, it's especially disturbing that some people don't see anything wrong with it! It's also sad that people are turning this incident into a class war.

Also quite appalling is the lack of a statement from the CBCP, who have been utterly vocal about being against the RH Bill but strangely silent on this incident when I think they quite obviously have bearings on each other. There are several hundreds of "Jan-jans" in this country who are surely being exploited but whose cases haven't been videoed and put up on youtube.