Willie Revillame strikes again!

Filipino television star Willie Revillame certainly earns the big bucks the networks pay him. Recently he again exhibited his ability to draw crowds in stampede proportions to one of his shows. This time it was TV5’s Will Time Big Time which drew hordes hoping to score tickets being doled out for free for the show’s first anniversary extravaganza on the 22nd October at the Araneta colliseum. Prizes at stake were no small deals…

Prizes include P7 million cash, 10 cars, and three houses and lots courtesy of Sen. Manny Villar. Along with the free tickets, each is given P1,000, a bag of groceries and 5 kilos of rice.

Unfortunately for the multitude of hopefuls who massed at the Amoranto Sports Complex in Quezon City, it seems the coveted dole outs were released a day before the 15th October, the day it was announced they were to be given out.

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A teeming mass of impoverished Filipinos who travelled from all over camped outside a sports complex in Manila’s heat, humidity, and corrosive atmosphere is not a pretty sight. Even on a good day, Filipinos are known for going about their personal business even in public streets. And even where there are public toilets, the inconsiderate way with which these are used is world-renowned. Needless to say, the estimated 5,000 people who waited for their free tickets that day created what must have been one hell of a sanitation nightmare for city officials. Considering that sanitation standards upheld by most Philippine city officials are not the best in the world to begin with, this must have been really bad.

As of Saturday, the streets around the complex—Scout Chuatoco and Alejandro Roces—already reeked of urine and were strewn with trash and leftover food.

Some people tried to catch some sleep on the pavement, seemingly oblivious to the stench and the smoke from passing cars.

A nearby eatery charged P5 a person for the use of its toilet—but apparently not everyone was willing to shell out that much.

According to Jongay, the conditions were much worse the night before: “There were more people. We could hardly breathe. I saw at least six people collapse.”

This is Willie Revillame, the same man behind the ABS-CBN variety show Wowowee which figured in a similar nightmarish scenario that ended badly back in the 4th February 2006, when 78 people died in a stampede fueled by a rush for free tickets to see the show. That incident was itself, left largely unresolved…

The way I understand it, a fact-finding team organised in 2006 found ABS-CBN culpable for the the deadly stampede and ABS-CBN lawyers lodged a petition with the Department of Justice questioning the authority of this team. This petition to block the investigation was rejected by the Supreme Court on the 29th January 2008. This means there are no legal hurdles to the Department of Justice pursuing a case against ABS-CBN.

Since then, there’s been no further updates on the case.

Indeed, try a Google News search using the key words “wowowee stampede abs cbn”. You’ll come up with nothing (as of this writing).

… which is not surprising considering that this most recent episode is a clear parallel of the 2006 tragedy.

Suffice to say, enticing Filipinos to invest their life’s savings and risk life and limb for the chance to be in shows like Will Time Big Time and Wowowee is like fishing in a barrel. The sorts of people whose idea of an investment strategy is betting the family fortune on what amounts to no more than a perverse lottery constitute the bread-and-butter audience of these shows.

“How can I go home if I don’t have money for my fare!” said a fuming old woman. “I’ve been waiting for a ticket and now they tell me they’ve given it all away! Does Willie (Revillame) know what they have done?” she said.

Dangling such sumptuous prizes in front of a population crazed by poverty is certainly an easy-pickin’ business model that builds vast fortunes and lucrative careers. In that context, can we really say Willie Revillame is a bad man by Philippine standards? Perhaps not. After all, Willie Revillame only differs from the dime-a-dozen politicians that infest Philippine politics only in the specific thing he peddles to a people bankrupted in many aspects. While most politicians dangle nebulous concepts of “hope” in front of their voters, at least Revillame dangles tangible giveaways before his legions of fans. In most other aspects Revillame along with some of our more “prayerful” politicians are really all the same.

5 Replies to “Willie Revillame strikes again!”

  1. I came across two articles from Yahoo the other day. One was about the lottery – and how people easily waste their money time and again for remote chances of winning. The other was about optimism, and how it was scientifically proven that looking at the bright side of things blinds people from all the risks which would otherwise be plain to see. Then I came upon this article through GetRealPhilippines’ FB post.

    Filipinos are proud (to a fault) of being able to laugh in the face of adversity. Then again we take it to a different level sometimes. A level where adversity is caused by the very optimism we blindly embrace. A level where repeated lessons are shrugged off and merely smiled at. A level of folly.

    Siyempre naalala ko rin ang pagka-damidaming beses na nagkibit-balikat na lang ako sa sarili kong katangahan. Napailing na lang ako nang maisip kong pinagkakakitaan ang ganitong klase kong pagiisip ng mga tulad ni Willie.

    And the pessimist in me just had to deliver his punchline: look at the bright side, you’re not the only one. Your culture and race imbibes in blind optimism ignoring blatant truths whenever convenient.

    Lintek naman na kayamanan ang napapala ni Willie sa mga tulad ko. Maiba na nga.

    1. I guess if you’re faced with poverty with no hope of getting out of it, ang sasabihin mo na lang ay “walang mawawala kung gagawin ko ito.”

      If you use a a matrix to analyze it, it pays to participate. If you don’t participate, you automatically lose and you’ll stay poor. If you do, at least you get 3 sets of probabilities. The probability you’ll get in. The probability you’ll end up as a contestant. The probability you’ll win. It’s a sick way to manipulate people for profit. Tingin ko lang yan ha.

      1. That is indeed the prevailing perspective. The lottery article on Yahoo touched on this issue. The article cited stats from the US, but anyway: the poor, unemployed, and people without a high school diploma made up a huge chunk of lottery ticket buyers. I’d presume the stats are similar here.

        A probability matrix (if that’s what it’s called) might make the possibility of getting something out of it seem a bit better. And I agree it is a twisted way of influencing audience / consumer behavior.

        You hit the mark with the “walang mawawala kung gagawin ko ito” outlook. That’s the bottom-line, right? Walang mawawala kasi wala naman talaga.

        Economics says otherwise though. People might not lose anything tangible, but the concept of opportunity cost crops up. They lose the opportunity to do something that actually makes their life even a bit better with their “wala namang mawawala” outlook.

        I hate the version that goes “wala namang masama” – adding a bit of misguided moral argument to the issue.

      2. Hi, G!

        I agree. Opportunity cost (productive) is something they overlook. Poverty is something that robs people of their pride. It makes them compromise their principles. It angers me that corporations (and jueteng) and politicians (including the pcso) profit from these people.

        The question now is how do we empower these people to get out of the poverty pit. I wish it is as easy as telling them to get a job. The bottom line there is this: as soon as they get a decent way to earn, the incentive for engaging in activities like Willie’s show might lessen for them.

        As for “walang masama,” I think that’s usually applied sa jueteng. Murang mura lang daw kasi eh. If you look at it, that jueteng business is just a bigger version of the beggars sindikato.

  2. “While most politicians dangle nebulous concepts of “hope” in front of their voters, at least Revillame dangles tangible giveaways before his legions of fans. In most other aspects Revillame along with some of our more “prayerful” politicians are really all the same.”

    This one just swooshed through the ring from the three-point arc.

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