Monique Wilson’s call to fellow artists in the Philippines

Monique Wilson, a respected stage actress, writes about the Willie Revillame and TV entertainment. Photo from

Willie Revillame’s treatment of Janjan who was made to dance like a gigolo on his primetime game show beamed on national television last March 12 has attracted a whole array of opposition and strident criticism, and, of course, defense from his diehard fans and defenders of his new home network.

Monique Wilson, a respected stage actress, gives us another point of view, and a call to her colleagues in the Philippines. I agree with most of her views in this article, especially on what she says are the roles of artists in the Philippines. (Please take note though that I found this article circulating on Facebook and have tried — and so far failed — to find a direct link. Sources tell me it was first circulated via mailing lists.)

Here is the full text:

by Monique Wilson on Wednesday, 30 March 2011 at 00:12

The debate is no longer whether it was child abuse or not. The facts are plain to see. No one with a sense of respect for another human being can dispute that. The discourse now is how we, as Filipinos, as artists involved in the same industry that created Willy and shows like his, could have allowed this to go on for as long as it has.  And what is our individual and collective participation in it?

Let’s talk honestly about our TV networks.  The culprit now is TV5 – with its’ blatant lack of decency by even hiring someone like Willy Revillame – a callous, insensitive individual who preys on the needs of poor, uneducated Filipinos. They hired him for ratings and money at the expense of the integrity, dignity and self-respect of the most vulnerable in our society.

Now wasn’t channel 2 guilty of the very same thing?  Let’s observe very closely many other game shows and reality shows across all the networks – can we not deduce very overt similarities? That networks are propelled by greed – ratings, money? Is there really, in all honesty, a local network, that can claim they put human values above all that?  I don’t think so. I turn on the television to watch local show and I feel uncomfortable.  We have news reports that are horrifyingly biased and sensationalist, we have noon- time variety shows that exploit women and insult our intelligence, we have talk shows that are intrusive, subjective and tasteless – the list goes on and on.

I am not saying, of course, that all shows fall beneath our standards of human decency – there are some TV shows that go against the grain, break the boundaries and give us quality – but they are so few. Even how the networks create the demarcation lines – A and B for middle and upper class, C and D for lower class? What kind of senseless segregating is that? It’s like saying, depending on what “class” you belong to, you cannot “appreciate” certain kinds of shows.  This insults me as it should insult everybody. This is one of the roots of the problem.  ALL our TV networks dumb down audiences in one way or the other.  They keep the lines segregated. TV, like any other cultural form – and let’s face it, TV has become our common culture in the Philippines – should be used to EDUCATE, EMPOWER, INSPIRE, AWAKEN.  But when you see shows like “Willing Willie” – and many other similar shows – they do the opposite. They dumb down audiences. They disempower them by creating a mendicant society with game shows that promise “quick money”. They keep them dependent on hand- outs, instead of creating opportunities for them to build skills. There is nothing inspiring about this.

And now, we can all rant and rave, but unless we do something concrete about our rage – we will just be passive bystanders.  Sometimes it does seem insurmountable and overwhelming  because the problem is huge. But we can play our part.  We can do just ONE thing. That is better than doing nothing at all. Whether that be  creating an online petition to deliver to TV5, CRH or DSWD, or whether  we boycott the sponsors of the show/s, or write letters to all our newspapers, or make your voices heard with your local congress representatives and let them know this is unacceptable to you.  I think we all need to take a good, long, hard look at our local shows – and if we feel they exploit our fellow Filipinos, whether they be children or women – then we MUST boycott the sponsors that enable them.  Boycotts are effective. They hit where it has a tangible monetary, economic effect. That is how apartheid South Africa crumbled. That is what is supporting the Palestinians right to self-determination with the BDS campaign now.  In the process we need to look at what we ourselves value. If we expect people to treat us with respect, decency, integrity and dignity – we must INSIST and DEMAND that everyone else should be treated in the same way.  And as artists, our responsibility is GREATER. We are part of this problem. When we remain silent, we allow this to continue. When we turn a blind eye, our apathy also abuses the vulnerable in our society. When we don’t demand artistic excellence in our fields and settle for mediocre entertainment, we are just as bad as the networks who just do things for profit. As artists, we must REFUSE to play. We must DEMAND more from our industry.

So this is a call to my fellow artists from television, film and theatre.

Please let your voices be heard.  Don’t sit on the fence because you fear you won’t be given work.  It is this fear that networks also rely on to keep their machineries in place – machineries that not only lack some very basic human values, but also aesthetics. We keep saying Filipinos artists are world class – well let’s prove it now.  There are international standards we must insist on when it comes to our local entertainment industry – film, theatre, tv, etc – why should we settle for anything less?  We are part of the creation of our artistic culture – we must protect it and demand more for it.

We must not allow it to be used for the continued exploitation of our fellow Filipinos.

Art and culture have value in our society.

They awaken minds

They nurture thought

They inspire courage

They open up compassion

They give us possibilities

They excavate the texture of humanity

They teach us humility and love

They open paths

They give us freedom to explore

They teach us how to listen

They keep us connected

They allow us to take in

They teach us to be involved

to defy

to demand

to be full

to live

to stay awake

to be present… the moment.

But most of all

They demand that we SERVE.

So please don’t waste these possibilities with your silence.


  1. Dino

    for steve r, if she did not make a direct statement, how would you have done it? beat around the bush the way you do? your analogy about the know-it-all in the ticket line hasn’t the remotest relation to the purpose of her challenge in this article. thank goodness she didn’t do that, because then what she wrote would have meant nothing. on your second comment, what you’re saying degrades our fellowmen, because what you mean there, and i have to tell you because you apparently don’t know, is that they have lesser values and that they are people of lower morals, which is most certainly absurd because that is not true. you have unwittingly accused them of not being able to understand the concern of the artists who have voiced their opinion about this issue when in face they can, because their concern is about human decency, which is FOR EVERYONE, including you.

    if in that fateful moment willie and the tv execs jumped in to stop that first dancing of jan-jan and apologized for it immediately on the same show on the same day, he and his show would not be in such a mess right now because that means they have done the right thing. the reason why many artists and other people are reacting is because the kid was made to do the dance over and again. it still would have been wrong sans the tears because, come on, he’s a child and should not have been exposed to such a dance to begin with, much less perform it on national TV! even if what willie claims is true, that he didn’t know the child would be doing that dance prior to his stage appearance, that would not have been true when he asked jan-jan to do it again, and again, and again, and again. he knew by those times, he just didn’t think it was wrong because that’s how he gets off for a laugh: humiliating someone because they’re sure to do it for a prize.

    in addition, no one should argue that the networks, or willie for that matter, are just giving what the people want. that’s the very heart of this challenge: the networks should produce better programs that are not condescending to lesser values, because we, the audience, deserve them. ms. wilson is not asking for tv programs to do away with game shows altogether. we can still have them, albeit no public degradation, they can still be fun and entertaining.

  2. john liss

    I saw this episode, when i saw this episode the poor little boy was dancing like a prostitute and Mr. Revillame always laughing to him and had fun to him..

    And Mr. Revillame is very disrespectful, he should filed a lawsuit to him so that he will learned his mistake.. and it should suspend his show and will not comeback..

    I was agree to all your comments Mr.Revillame is not giving his own money, he is just the frontman and he is so9 HAMBOG!!!

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