Driving along the familiar roads of Makati, I find that it is almost impossible for one to never see a homeless person begging, literally, on the street; their gray, unwashed hands knocking on windows of cars, their faces pleading for some of your change, and for food that they may eat. It can be heartbreaking sometimes, especially when the beggar is a child.
But in my country, these people are a familiar sight. Poverty is the rule, not the exception. And when I say poverty, I mean knee-deep in the muck kind of poverty, and I can almost mean that literally. Forget about quality of life or even dignity; in a lot of cases, these people just want to survive. And you can see it in some of these homeless people's faces, their eyes conveying nothing but desperation.
There are con artists to be sure, who simply go out on the streets to beg, acting like they were handicapped or insane, just so they wouldn't have to do an honest day's work. But in a country where the poor outnumber the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy in mind-boggling numbers, it is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between the two.
Willie Revillame, an extremely popular celebrity in the Philippines especially among the poor, is now under fire for allowing a child named Jan-jan to simulate the dance of a male stripper on his game show. There are several clips all over the internet, and the first thing you would notice is that the child was crying while it was all happening, and that the audience, in a cruel display of heartlessness, was laughing. Revillame, who obviously possesses very little intellect, even went so far as to say that he admired the child for doing what he did just so he could help his family. He then gave Jan-jan P10,000 (around 200USD) as a prize for his performance.
When you watch the whole thing, it literally makes you want to throw up. Have our countrymen been ground so low that they would allow their children to do something so obviously horrible just so they can get by? Are TV shows (I'm pointing a finger at you Revillame) so blinded by the bottomline that they are willing to subject a child to pointless psychological abuse just so its audiences are entertained? When will we realize that these people who act like champions for the poor are nothing but greedy hypocritical sharks who really do nothing but profit from our less fortunate brethren? When will we realize that instead of helping, these shows cultivate a culture of mendicancy, where instead of being taught to stand on our own two feet, we are made to depend, our arms outstretched, on the alms given by false kings?
In an obvious display of self-righteousness, one that shows his ignorance and malice and worthlessness, Revillame claims that he shouldn't be criticized for what he did, and that he was only trying to help the poor and that he only wanted to make people happy.
What hypocrisy. As Conrado de Quiros so aptly put it, it is so "odious that he should treat his guests exactly the opposite of the way Degeneres does. It’s utterly distasteful. The beneficiaries in particular are bled dry for every tearful detail of their miserable lives and made to look as though they are the luckiest people in the world to have been the object of the show’s beneficence. The gratefulness is way too sticky, the beneficiaries virtually kissing the hand of Revillame, which isn’t always metaphorical. The cameras do not flinch at this lavish display of emotion but catalogue every moment of it, with no small encouragement from the host. Revillame himself does not bother to distinguish between the show’s beneficence and his own. In fact he makes it a point to encourage the belief—which has been the secret of his success—that he is doing all this out of the goodness of his heart, and out of the depths of his pockets."
Revillame lives off the myth that he is one of the poor, that he wants nothing but to help them. The irony is that he is a multi-billionaire who generated his wealth at the expense of countless Filipinos' dignity.
I'm pointing another finger at you Willie Revillame. Guess which one.
Photo taken here.