Philippines: TV Host Accused of Child Exploitation

Controversial TV host Willie Revillame from the Philippines has once more stirred a hornet's nest, this time drawing the ire of concerned citizens who used the Internet and social media to organize efforts in addressing what they believe was a case of child exploitation on prime time TV. The incident occurred on the March 12 airing of his game show ‘Willing Willie’ at TV5 network wherein a six-year-old Filipino boy was a contestant in one of the show segments where it was routine to do a song or dance performance before the game itself.

When a Snoop Dogg hip-hop tune was played, the 6-year-old boy did a provocative dance pretending to be a ‘macho dancer’ in a night club. Willie Revillame didn't appear to be bothered by the dance which is unusual to be performed by minors and instead he cheered on the audience to applaud the boy. All the while, tears were running down his cheeks as he repeated the macho dancer routine every time the song was played.

Definitely Filipino denounces the incident as child exploitation:

This is entertainment? The child was obviously humiliated the first time he had to do it, but performed the dance several times upon the inducement of Willie himself, his staff and with the encouragement of the people in audience — some of whom can be seen brought to tears in laughter. This is not funny at all. The ‘performance’ should have been allowed only once to qualify for the ‘talent’ portion of the contest, and that should have been the end of it. The child’s father was also ridiculed by Willie for owning a parlor, seemingly trying to coerce the child into revealing the sexual orientation of his father. What is wrong with trying to make a decent living by cutting people’s hair? Straight or homosexual, so what

Dennis believes that a line has been crossed and it's time for concerned citizens to act:

It’s time the silent majority stood up and stated in no uncertain terms exactly what it feels about the TV show.

It’s time to refuse to let an egoistic celebrity and his misguided group of TV executives dictate what our moral standards should be.

Dennis Sy scores the kid's parents for teaching him the provocative dance:

For the parents of this boy who pimped their kid to come out of national TV – shame on you. No loving parent would force their kid to do this.

Ramblings of Adam and Eve zero in on how TV host Willie Revillame takes advantages of such situations:

While it’s true that Willie may have helped a lot of people already, it’s also true that he helps himself while he’s helping these people. Besides, it’s not Willie himself who helps them, it’s actually the sponsors of the show. Willie’s just doing his job and is actually earning a lot from it. But money can’t buy class, intelligence, taste and sensitivity. Too bad for Willie because maybe he thought he could.

Trisha appeals to the show's producers and the boy's family:

When I watched this video, I felt really really uncomfortable. The show should rethink what their show really wants to achieve. To Jan-Jan's father and aunt, I don't know why you chose that dance move to teach him.

Prayers for the boy, his family, and the audience are offered by Better Filipinos so that they may see the error of their ways:

I'm praying for that this kid will be blessed to have his mind protected by the corruption being instilled by his guardians. I am praying that Janjan's parents will understand soon enough that they need to love their child more and that this way of milking money from this child is not God's way. I am also praying for the audience – laughing and approving this vicious thing to this child – to realize and repent from this way of life.

Patricio Mangubat points out that the powerful men behind TV host Revillame will also be dragged into this new mess:

What I am surprised about is that this man is being supported by big businessmen, like Manny Pangilinan and Manny Villar. These people are supposed to be the shakers and movers of this Nation. These men are supposed to be of high integrity.

Do these businessmen realize that their names are also being dragged as protectors of Mr. Revillame, every single time this man gets caught with a misdemeanor or a crime?

On the other hand, Katrina Stuart Santiago posed a crucial question to Revillame's critics:

when I say ngayon lang, I mean this concerted effort to stand up for little boy Jan-Jan and the perceived abuse he suffered on the show. when I point out this fact of public outcry happening only now, I mean what of those countless — countless! — times that these Willie Revillame shows have offended, are offensive, which is really pretty much most of the time.

bakit ngayon lang tayo na-offend? is a question that is not about forgiving Revillame or his show. it’s a question that’s about figuring out how these current conditions with regards Jan-Jan are different from the five years of Wowowee and the less than a year’s existence of Willing Willie. or maybe it isn’t different at all, we just got this one on a youtube video. in which case what does this really say about us?


we are farthest from the point. our anger towards Willie and Willing Willie will barely scratch the surface of possibility of both being cancelled out of local TV. in fact at this point it’s almost something they can shrug off, and something to use against us. because here we are shooting from the hip, angry and disgusted, in the process revealing our social class. we forget that Willie will know to see this for what it is: the class divide at work, one that we refuse to deal with, one we will deny, and ultimately one we will not put out P10,000 pesos for. even if we could.

As of this writing the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development has sent communications to TV5 network which airs the “Willing Willie” show about this incident while the the Commission on Human Rights and the MTRCB have also taken notice. Bloggers and netizens continue to debate the issue and organize support for the 6-year-old boy. Clearly, things are far from over.

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