Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On the Dark Side of Charity

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 the Philippines, 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, was once 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, obviously possessing very little empathy, 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 Php10,000 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 so blinded by the bottom-line 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.


  1. We have more and more beggars everyday where we live. (I blame it on economy and overpopulation, but that is an argument for another time) And we also have our jerks who exploit the misery.
    Your post today is very well written, and I aree with your finger-pointing opinions.

  2. What do you expect, it's Willie Revillame.

  3. thumbs up FC! hindi ko maiwasan magalit every time na nakikita ko si willie!

  4. It brought me such pain to hear of the young boy crying while he performed. Great article and very well written. Praying that this Willie character gets enlightened and realizes he is the child he is denegrating. He will learn it someday.

    Your words will open eyes. :) Great job!

  5. I had the chance to work with people who really make a difference during my European Voluntary Service. Anonymous people who do not ask for publicity (apart from the kind that helps their cause), who invest their free time to improve people's lives and prospects, who only strive to see smiles on the faces of the ones they are helping in a real way. And not by giving alms, as you so rightly put it. It takes much more than just money to build a better future!

    I don't know this Willie Revillame character, but thinking of the amazing people I have met, I can only feel something close to disgust for this person who is using other people's misery to get better audience. If he really wants to help, then he should start by helping himself become a more decent human being first.

    Nobody can really help others if they need help themselves!

  6. Wow.... That is sad. But well written piece, loved it! :)

  7. very nice FC... :)

    I myself is also pissed of Willie, he's more than a jerk nowadays, and i never liked any of his shows either....

    i don't find entertainment and i don't find it very pleasing to see the poor ones cry on tv, it looks as if that he wants them to cry and humiliate themselves first before he gives off money....

    *sigh, to think that he is also a former Escolarian,


    such a shame to our alma mater..


  8. Well-written, as always. It's a bit heartbreaking, though...poor kid.

  9. I actually watched the video but I think the boy was crying before he was even made to dance, get taunted upon, and "abused".The only abusive thing Willie did was when he asked the child to do the act repetitively.

  10. that makes me want to throw up. I hope I never come across that video as long as I live.

  11. Hasn't he gained wisdom from all sorts of "not so good things" that happened to him?. Maybe some people really need to be educated on which one is "entertaining and which one is disgusting!!!"

  12. yes poverty and

    that is a sad fact

  13. Excellent and well written post. Very thought provoking.

  14. Shocking and sad :( New follower here, I came across your blog and began reading this post, not realising it was about Philippines until I read further on. I feel so sorry for that boy. My parents moved to England from the Batangas, this reminds me how lucky I am to have what I have and be where I am. I can only ask God to bless that child and others in need. It's so sad to see charity being dealt with in such a humiliating manor. That celebrity should be ashamed

  15. Wow This was so deep. It made me emotional reading it <3 Awesome blog!

  16. Very good analysis! I love reading your blog. Thanks for writing this stuff.

  17. Hello:
    This makes for both interesting and depressing reading so much so that there are times when one is in danger of losing all faith in humanity. The plight of the poor, in your country and elsewhere, is heartbreaking, made worse when set against the conspicuous consumption and spending which all too often typifies the western world.
    Here in Hungary [the new democracy!] each day sees more and more people reduced to living on the streets.
    Thank you so much for leaving a comment on our blog - most appreciated. We shall add ourselves to your hundreds of Followers!!

  18. I was completely un aware of this and condemn it as deplorable. Whether it be physical or psychological abuse of a child is unacceptable. I also hope that the audience can take a long hard look at themselves.

    Thank you for the visit on my blog and comment!

  19. Whoa. You said it! I couldn't have said it any better myself. I'm sharing this on Twitter and Facebook.. that's perfectly okay with you, right FC?

    Gandang araw! :)

  20. Well written adn well done. I am relieved to have not seen the video of this poor child -- the description has been enough for me. That the audience laughs is horrifying.

    We (human beings) can be a strangely pitiless lot.


  21. Poverty and Corruption - the ugliest things that ever happened to our country. Those words work well together, grow well together, and they're the hardest problems to solve.

    Willie, on the other hand, is an arrogant a**hole who used poverty as a medium to collect Millions and Millions of Pesos from Sponsors and Advertisers for his personal interest. I'm praying for an end to his hosting career!

    I still have high hopes for our country though. I'm hoping I wont end up hoping forever.

  22. A thought provoking post indeed. Have you seen "Slumdog Millionaire?" The story about making kids blind so they can beg for gangster beggers is actually a reality. Forty five years ago some one we know had lost their eight year old daughter and later on when they found her(she was a year older) she was blind and begging on the streets of Bombay.

  23. my family watches this show everyday. i've seen it a couple times, nothing new. people come to the show to beg for money, and i don't find it entertaining. at all. i'm so glad i found your blog btw, really nice entries you have here. it's only today that i saw your comment on one of my blog posts. and don't worry, i'm a troll too! i kid :D

  24. Very good blog. Please do visit my blog and leave your footprints behind by posting comments:-

  25. Wow. Sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner on your original post on my blog. It seems that I have been missing out on your quality posts!

    If this loser were really great he would take advice from a good book that says that you shouldn't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing... In other words, he would give to the poor and do it secretly so that he wouldn't get his 'reward' on earth. It's all about hype and you're right if it makes you want to vomit and beat this guy's head in.

    If someone is desperate and poor he'll do anything, demeaning or no, to get money or food. Just look at North Korea--I would not deny that they have probably eaten family members in order to survive. That makes dancing sound fun, but it's horrible still.

    Great post, and thanks for writing about things that matter as well as making it interesting.

  26. Thanks a bunch for sharing this with all of us you actually know what you're talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly also visit my web site =). We could have a link exchange agreement between us! I just couldn't depart your site prior to suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the standard information a person provide for your visitors? Is going to be back often in order to check up on new posts.

  27. It is bad enough to be poor without people ridiculing and making money off you. Very good post. It is easy to forget about the very poor when I never see them. There are such terrible things that go on in the world.

  28. ilang beses ako nag nod in agreement sa post na to. so effing bullseye. mamatay na sana si willie! no joke!

    heniwei, it's my first time here. :)



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