Friday, April 15, 2011

They Engaged in Filth, Now They Engage in Cowardice

Last Friday, April 8, it was announced on Channel 5 that the station would file libel charges on me for calling them pedophiles. Last Saturday, the libel suit was reiterated by Ch 5 with the approval of Willie Revillame’s lawyer, Leonard de Vera.


Today, it was announced that libel charges will be filed by the parents of Jan Jan instead, and included Froilan Grate, Dr. Honey Carandang and myself with unnamed John and Jane Does.


In an apparently devious and rather naïve move, Manny Pangilinan who owns the station and Willie Revillame have made the parents be the accusers instead of them.


Few will believe that the parents are doing this on their own volition and that they have the funds to sustain a legal battle.


I will respond to their libel charges in due time but I can categorically state that I did not call Channel 5 pedophiles. That constitutes name-calling and that’s beneath me. And for me to have branded the whole station as pedophiles is terribly unkind. There are many more apt and precise descriptions of that station and its owner which decency inhibits me to state.


What they are really upset is my persistent education of the public about Republic Act 7610 for the Special Protection of Children. It is a criminal offense and four government agencies have categorically asserted that the Jan-Jan dance was in violation of that law. And today, it has also been opined by the Dept of Justice Head de Lima that she too feels that the incident violates the law. That same law is what our government uses to go after and prosecute sex traffickers, child pornographers and pedophiles. The severity of the accusation by the Philippine Government on the station and Willie Revillame and the implications as to the sort of company they are now lumped with and possible jail sentences is what unsettles them. They have therefore resorted to a libel case to attempt to silence me, Froilan, Dr. Carandang and the tens of thousands of people who have expressed righteous outrage over what is a clear display of child abuse.


But their bumbling move to make the parents carry the suit will blow up in their faces.


To the companies who once supported the show, your dropping ad placements were an admission that the incident was repugnant as well and you did not want your brand logos to be replaced with a crying sex dancing boy. You have asked for guidelines from the station to plan future ad placements. Their slimy move to make the parents carry the suit shows extremely bad faith on the station’s part by pitting the parents with consumer advocates, diverting the issue, and silencing the critics that warned you about this filthy segment in the first place!


Since you are tracking Facebook and social media reactions, you will note the massive outpouring of anger in today’s announcement which will qualitatively expand and your companies will be the first affected. Consumers see through this ruse very clearly so we warn you not to consider ad placements until all libel charges are dropped. In fact, you all have a direct line to Revillame and Pangilinan. So, give them a call. They listen very well to those who hold the purse strings.


For foreign multinationals (P&G, Unilever, et al) you are painfully aware of the worldwide reporting of this incident and you will have a lot of explaining to do should you return to advertise in that sordid show. You now have Filipinos and worldwide consumer activists to deal with and they can exact worse consequences than you ever dreamed.


To our supporters, please keep up the pressure on our government (write on their websites, on their FB, to their e mails) letting them know we are watching and that we support the full application of Republic Act 7610.


Write to the companies and tell them we find no redeeming value whatsoever in continuing ad placements with the show. If they should capitulate, we have the power of choice and a continued boycott will be our forceful solution.


This righteous consumer anger was felt and heard from tens of thousands of Filipinos and friends around the world. So do your share in e mailing your concerns with the companies. You have seen better TV programming abroad. Imagine working hard and missing your family and children only for them to be subjected to prime time garbage. Do not let bad programming destroy your family values.


I am of the utmost certainty that we will prevail. We have truth and decency on our side no matter how they try to cow us. They have just made the supreme debacle of making us have to fight the parents. They have decided to hide behind them and use them. This despicable cowardice is apparent and will only hasten the end of the squalid programming they’ve inflicted on us for so many forlorn years.


Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Topping the Grossness of Willing Willie

April 6, 2011

Fifteen boys came out of the van, ages ranging from seven perhaps to 18. They were held up in traffic and were late and I was getting a little peeved waiting.

They had come from the Pangarap Boys Shelter and their volunteer leader, a young German named Felix was sheepishly apologetic.

They looked out of place – not the jeans or the oversized t-shirts or the sneakers - in the American Military Cemetery. It was in their faces:

Why are we here? Who is this guy greeting me?

Looking detached, they looked hardened.

Felix contacted me weeks ago asking if I could give his boys a tour. I said yes, hoping to find a sponsor for them but if not, I’d do it for free. I heard good things about the shelter taking care of 100 male street kids and several dozen girls.

The smaller ones got to me, some bearing scars on their faces, a few looking too skinny. The older ones, having lived on the streets weren’t sure how to deal with my do-gooder smiling face. But despite appearances, I caught their stolen gazes of the whole expanse. Acres of perfectly landscaped garden, endless precise lines of crosses, never before seen huge trees, and an unusual open sided cylindrical building. They were at least curious.

I faced the boys slightly nervous that my Filipino language skills were being put to the test and even more important, calibrating my tour to children and young people which I’ve always felt to be challenging. But there was Felix, an idealistic German who came to the Philippines to offer a year of service with poor boys, probably paid nothing. He guilt-tripped me. But he wasn’t helpful by whispering before we started, that the tour may have been a silly goody-two-shoes idea. These boys have had it tough, many sexually abused and a cemetery wasn’t exactly on their bucket list.

A light-bulb moment. It was a week now, writing letters, signing petitions, going into a full Facebook war against advertisers, Channel 5 and Willie Revillame who decided in one of his sleazy segments to get a crying boy to dance like a hustler and have the crowd hooting like savages. (Since this piece was written, the show has been temporarily cancelled set off by a massive exodus of advertisers).

So, I decided, if that bully was going to make a boy cry and dance like a sex toy so he can get ten grand, Screw It, I’m going to give 15 boys with REAL LIFE nightmares the grandest tour they’ll ever know if only to relieve them of the REAL pain they’ve been through.

We started with the huge war maps, a challenge since it wasn’t a TV screen. They had to get out of their couch potato passive mode and make them examine countries, battleship formations, the arrows of engagement with the enemy, the history of World War II in the Pacific. Yes, the whole Kaboom for a bunch that were not my usual overeducated guests. My scholarly illuminations would have to be put on hold.

Where is the Philippines in this map, I bellowed for attention?

Aha, yes, young man you got it.

On this battle map of Manila, where is your home? There was quiet. Some mumbled, we have no home.

Shit, wrong question.

Ok, where is the shelter? They strained looking for a clue and I kept egging them on. A boy found it, shouted “Pasay” and his finger aimed directly to the place they now called home.

Each time they bested me with the correct answer, I allowed no time for gloating. Off we went to the next wall and to the next and to the hallways outside before they could act indifferent.

My usual lecture script was out the window. What do the boys frigging care about the battle of Guadalcanal, or the China Burma Theater or the expansionist motives of super powers. That’s for another day.

So I got them to touch the smoothness and porosity of the Travertine walls. I made them look up to the frieze, commanding them to read important battle sites, Bougainville, Leyte Gulf, Bataan, Solomons. I made them stroke a gravestone, reading the engraved words together,

HERE LIES A COMRADE WHOSE IDENTITY IS KNOWN ONLY BUT TO GOD.

They pronunciation was askew at times, but they read it loud and in unison. I tried explaining the problems faced with the over 3,000 remains that were not identified. That was hard until a boy said quietly:

It’s like me before I got to the shelter. I didn’t know who I was.

We walked to a vantage point in the cemetery with a commanding view of the long entrance, the memorial court, and the chapel. I made them appreciate the straight lines of the Mahogany trees, the Memorial circle, the color of grass, the composition of the Acacia trees, framed by Travertine columns, and the vertical secular chapel. It was a crash course on aesthetics.

It’s usually halfway through the tour when I consciously stop talking to look back at my guests. The boys were now quiet, some taking in the distant clear views of Laguna Lake, and the mountains of Antipolo. Others had fingers tracing the etched names of the departed. Others were filled with awe and the majesty of space. They had lost their hardened, cynical looks, replaced with serene faces. They were engaged once again with their humanity.

They started to whisper among themselves. I sensed a question. The group chose the smiling one who asked:

How do you engrave a name? Can I learn that?

Another asked: Is it hard to climb a tree and trim it?

And another: Will I need dark pants to apply here? I like this place.

I looked the other way when they asked, so they won’t see my lament and rage. This is the sort of Q&A that you don’t see on TV. Instead we have shows that dangle thousand peso bills provided by Belo, or Smart, or Pepsodent, or Knorr, to dancing boys, girls, and begging old women for guffaws and a perverted notion of instilling brand loyalty and audience ratings.

Here in this expanse of green, mosaic patterns and a sheltering sky, these boys were checking their self worth and the possibility of a decent job. A few days or months before, a few of them probably had to macho dance for some pedophile before the Shelter saved them. How bizarre if not abominable that there are TV programs, supported by companies that mimic what poor boys actually do.

We rounded the memorial circle examining all the maps which fascinated them and ended inside a 60-foot tall chapel covered floor to ceiling with a mosaic of a maiden bringing flowers to lay beside the gravestones. The artistry and the diligence in creation captivated them, seeing yet another vocation to learn.

I told them about the lives of some of these young men, how they fought bravely, how they saved their comrades, how they died many, barely 20 years of age. They listened intently to the carillon striking the hour and playing a hymn.

The boys are light footed, expansive, with smiles all around, having seen something today other than shampoo commercials, macho dancing, or the grime of their neighborhood. The unusual breezy day is tonic; they fill their lungs with rare clean air.

It was hard to say goodbye to them. I told Felix to send me more and I’ll find the sponsors. He said thank you and I told him THANK YOU for being the foreigner who cared for our boys. Better than the local turds who’d peddle them on the street or on television.

I shook each boy’s hand giving them a lesson in civility.

I said Thank You. They said Salamat.

I said Salamat, looked quickly away and walked briskly to my car.

If you want to know more about Pangarap, make a donation, or sponsor the activities for the boys and girls, please call Tel: 834 1061 / 551 3733.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Letter to Ben Chan of Bench, one of the Willing Willie Advertisers


Ben Chan

Bench

Manila


Dear Ben,


You’ve had some incredible hunks up on your billboards, sixty feet high, really great eye candy. All my beef about billboards destroying the landscape and causing accidents and even toppling over people get a momentary pause when Piolo appears in your face larger than life showing off his pecs.


But lately, you lost it. I drove down EDSA one day and my jaw dropped seeing Willie Revillame on your billboard hawking cologne. WILLIE?


Did this country suddenly run out of cuties? How could you, the master of the male beauty cult, have equated Willie with the likes of Richard Gomez?


And now, I see Willie and I see pudge.


Ben, no matter what Audition tells you, WILLIE’S NOT CUTE. He’s nowhere close to the hunk material you’ve foisted on our nanosecond fantasies which made us buy the briefs and everything else.


Since he’s not cute nor my fantasy I think of everything else he represents. Like 74 women and children trampled to death on his dangling-money TV show. Or him sneering at President Corazon Aquino’s funeral. Or now, making a little boy cry while coaxing him to macho dance.


When you made Willie part of your sales harem, people got a whiff of reality. We all realized that you would overlook all the scandals and sleaze that Willie represented and market a cologne named after him. It was about making money and, sadly, nothing else.


That’s pathetic Ben. You got a clothes and lifestyle empire with family auxiliaries like Oishi and you could be headed for prominence, written and lauded about for being the country’s eminent guru in creating wealth through beautifully photographed bodies.


Instead, you’ve decided to cast your sales fate with a guy riddled in scandal and whose show has been slammed by the country’s social welfare department (DSWD) and Human Rights Commission as having committed serious child abuse.


And pissing off a lot of people, many of them your customers.


Unlike Jollibee who nobly decided to pull out their ads, it seems you’re still plugging the cologne on a show you actually keep alive.


No matter how much you’ll spray his cologne on that set, we have the abused crying Jan-Jan on YouTube and on rerun and the smell of sleaze isn’t going away soon.


Why don’t you just realize the serious pickle your company is in and withdraw your support for the slimiest show in the world? You must have some smarts to make money elsewhere without having to use bullies that abuse boys.


Ben, listen: MACHO DANCING IS PROSTITUTION WITH A DANCE BEAT. And in our country with pedophilia around, it’s bad enough that a boy, somewhere at this very moment, is actually doing the dance FOR REAL. What’s the point simulating it on national TV? To make more call boys? Is that your company strategy of what the youth market should be?


See how low your empire has stooped to for the bucks?


You stick to Willie and we’ll shop at Pennshoppe and all the other alternative places. We’ll forego Oishi and get Jack and Jill. Have you checked out the massive, angry, world-wide talk about Willie on Facebook? Boycotting your goods is no idle threat. And it will only expand. Think Egypt.


There’s some great billboards out there. The new Folded and Hung guy with the six-pack leaves me breathless.


All you got is Willie and his pudge and a crying boy seared in our memory.


Don’t associate with sleaze. You’ll ruin your whole life’s work.



John L. Silva