Filipinos need to lighten up about Tito Sotto’s “Eat Bulaga” humour

The reality is, Tito Sotto has full license to crack misogynist jokes in Congress because it was the stardom brought about by his gig in popular noontime variety show Eat Bulaga that got him the votes to begin with. In short, Sotto’s character merely reflects the character of the society that ushered him into power. It is a society that chooses its leaders more on the basis of their showbiz chops and less on the basis of any actual skill in governance or legislation.

True as it may be that Sotto is copping a lot of flak over social media following a joke he cracked about Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo’s extramarital parenting during a Commission on Appointments (CA) hearing, the fact is he draws upon a repertoir that appeals to a vast swathe of Philippine society. Humour built around the unfortunate circumstances of people is a proud tradition in Philippine entertainment, after all.

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Eat Bulaga is particularly renowned for this low form of comedy. As far back as the 1980s, the show has built its success on the back of contests and games that require participants to undergo humiliating ordeals in front of a live studio and TV audience in exchange for the chance to win cash prizes. As recently as 2016, Sotto who serves as host in the show was called out by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) for “victim shaming” in an episode of Eat Bulaga.

In the episode, host Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto commented on the life story of their female winner, who recalled that she got separated with her husband after she was taken advantage of a male friend after having a few drinks.

To this the senator said, “Kasalanan ng lahat ng iyan, e, ang pag-inom. Kababae mong tao pa-shot shot ka?

He was also heard commenting, “Naka-shorts habang nagsa-shot?” when he learned that the lady wore shorts while having drinks with friends.

Stop to think why these words resonate so powerfully across the Eat Bulaga demographic. These are words that any Filipino parent could have uttered to errant kids — perhaps not the parents of the entitled “millennials” who populate the hipster social media cliques currently demonising Sotto. These kids, after all, are presumably encouraged to be as “alternative” in their life choices as they choose to be and may not be subject to the judgmental words of more traditional Filipino parents.

But think again. In the Philippine heartland where more traditional, more prescriptive and more authoritative parenting approaches persist, one will likely still hear similar words as Sotto’s used to admonish kids.

Hipsterism, after all, does not have as long a history in the Philippines as it has in the West. Even the most hip of Filipino parents still likely harbour misgivings around allowing their daughters to walk around in “pekpek shorts”, specially in the company of boys (not to mention allow them to be “courted on the street”). We can be assured that in the safety of private conversation, Filipino fathers still discuss personal fears about the possibility of sons starting to exhibit bakla behaviour as they enter their teens. And, of course, Filipino parents are worried about the prospect of the shame of kids who, you know, might get ano following a particularly intense date they were allowed to go on.

The fact remains, the Philippines is a conservative country. The living rooms of many Filipino homes are still adorned with big scary crucifixes and Santo Niño statues that remind everyone — adults and kids alike — who is watching from above. To be a good Roman Catholic inherently means being subject to harsh judgment backed by scripture and dogma that prescribes clear behavioural guidelines. When times are tough or when disaster strikes, Filipinos turn to prayer. The efficacy of those prayers are presumably hinged on how good a Catholic you were. God, after all, rewards the good and punishes the bad. And within the Catholic faith, what constitutes a good — or bad — Catholic is clearly written in black-and-white.

There is nothing baffling nor surprising about the way Senator Tito Sotto behaves in Congress. As a popular entertainer and, now, a popular politician Sotto is, by all intents and purposes, the quintessential Filipino personified. And, lest we forget, this is a Congress that invokes the guidance of the Catholic God when opening and closing its sessions. When hipsters judge him, they essentially judge the prevailing Filipino archetype that still exists no matter how much we’d like to believe is making way for more, shall we say, politically-correct ideas.

The Philippines is a democracy, after all. In a democracy, leaders merely reflect the character of the society that chooses them.

5 Replies to “Filipinos need to lighten up about Tito Sotto’s “Eat Bulaga” humour”

  1. Yes, reflection of our society. Just to be fair, and just to get real. Ang daming articles about Sotto being bashed, but reality is, this is just one of the clowns who were voted by our very own people. Only the media benefits from this. Haha.

  2. When comedians become politicians; and politicians become comedians: this is the result. I don’t think Tito Sotto is a misogynist. He is just trying to humor people, and make us laugh…

    Sotto was elected Senator in the Era of YellowTardism. We have uneducated show biz people, elected to lead us. We have a Fake Leni “The Bobo” Robredo , as Vice President. We had a lazy, know nothing, Pnoy Aquino, becoming President. We have a Boxer, turned politician, by the name of Manny Pacquiao.

    We have thieves, scammers, political opportunist, drug dealers, sex addicts, etc. We have a Hacienda Luisita Swine, by the name of Porky Drilon, who feasted on Pork Barrels, DAP, PDAF, etc…

    We have a so called “Wharton Boy”, by the name of Mar Roxas, who claimed what he is not… he is good on posing for photos, and directing traffics. He is also good in making the Typhoon Yolanda Fund, disappear without a trace. A “Fund Magician” in the making…

    We have more “Bobos” in the Senate and Congress, than common “Bobo” people, who are really, YellowTard “Bobos”, walking down the streets.

    We have a drug dealer and a nymphomaniac, Senator/former Sec. of Justice, Leila de Lima, who is now in prison.

    We have a professional “running dog” and professional agitator, by the name of Trillanes . Trillanes is prophet in the making, by predicting, Pres. Duterte will be impeached by May 2017. His prophecy, did not materialize. Watch for his another prophecy !

    What else will come out in the Philippine political scene…we do have colorful people, with depraved characters, as leaders and lawmakers. Anyway, they make laws, that no one seems to follow, including themselves !

  3. “Democrazy” is making Fool of yourself…so we vote Fools , who make Fools out of us…and the country becomes a Fools’ Paradise !

    “Democrazy” is Fool the people; Off the people and Buy the people ! What a tragic country, we have !

  4. Tito Sotto is just a perfect example of a Filipino Politician: As CROOKED, LYING, THIEVING MURDERING SCUMBAG as you will ever meet. Sotto maked Jack Enrile look like a nice guy. Sotto’s fingerprints are all over Pepsi Paloma’s murder, and he laughs about it because he knows that in the Philippines, NO ONE CAN TOUCH HIM. SO YOU LIGHTEN UP BENIGS, the guy SOTTO is a SCUMBAG, its that simple.

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