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Kwarta O Karangalan? Money Or Morals?

Last weekend, a major issue erupted over the Internet and mainstream media: Willie Revillame does it again.

Willie Revillame is the Philippines' most influential man. Having been embroiled in scandal after scandal which either stemmed from the Filipino masses' trust in him to give them a chance to break out of poverty, or from scandals resulting from his purported lecherous ways, Willie Revillame's infamy has never missed making waves across the Philippines. Proof of how crucial a figure he is in Philippine media.

The latest incident that added to Revillame's notoriety involves a show segment wherein a 6-year-old boy, Janjan Suan, performed dance moves that are culturally construed as lewd or sexually stimulating. Dubbed the dance moves of "macho dancers" or male strippers, the child's dance moves were accompanied by tears. What made the clip worse was that Revillame goaded him on, gave Janjan double the money he usually gave, and even kissed him several times. To add salt to the injury, the show's studio audience were jeering, cheering and guffawing on.

The show segment caused some morally sensitive souls to speak up and point out that what happened constituted child abuse. The denunciation of the clip, via Facebook Notes and blogs, awakened the Philippine viewing public from the haze of the comedic stupor it was in. Thus, a controversy was born.

It is heartening to know that the show's biggest advertisers were quick to agree with the clamor of concerned individuals, civic groups and government agencies who pushed for an advertiser pullout from Willing Willie. The first to pull out its ads was Jollibee, holding all its Mang Inasal ads from Willing Willie on April 1st. Proctor & Gamble followed suit by pulling out its ads on April 7th. Cebuana Lhuillier suspended its segment on the show on April 8th, same day that Revillame aired his tirade and announced that the show will be going on a moratorium. In his rant, he begged people to "Pray that the show will go back on air."

One thing that was very admirable, even in the depth of this brouhaha, was how Unilever made a stand and made sure that their ad pullout was fair to Willie Revillame as well. They pulled out all ad slots on all reality shows across all networks on April 8, 2011, effective on April 11, 2011. Theirs was a stand for better quality shows in general, not just censure of one man's grave error.

The opinions on the controversy are conflicting. Some said that Willie did not know that the kid was going to dance that way, so the only fault that Willie had on the matter was that he did not stop the child from dancing. However, Willie meanly guffawed and made callous, even evil comments. He also manically laughed and made light of the child's situation. Though he kept claiming that he cared about Janjan Suan and the child's family, the fact that he could readily demean, degrade and desecrate a child's background and identity shows that whatever compassion he claims he has is only skin-deep.

In the end, the tirade showed how easily Willie could rely on his good works in order to absolve himself of his moral failures. A heart-deep, God-fearing compassion is notably absent from his speech. The overwhelming impression that one gets from reading his tirade is that Willie is only out to save his Php 1 million-a-day salary. His arrogance and public display of good works dripped all throughout his arrogant plea for the show to survive.

What is worse is that this issue polarized Filipino netizens. The underprivileged, undereducated crowd were quick to verbally abuse and take the conflict to a personal level, not hesitating to harass the people who were denouncing Willie on a moral and intellectual level. One wonders how far a fruit falls from its tree.

Though some people can apparently see through Revillame's good works and manipulative antics, we wonder why the others, especially the needy of this country, remain blind. It seems as if Willie took the place of God as their Provider. Indeed, the love of money is the root of all evil. See how it could polarize a country. See how it debases people and turns them into animalistic creatures who are willing to do anything for a quick buck. Whether it is in the form of poverty or greed, putting money above everything never benefited anyone. It shrivels up the soul and turns one into an empty, morally bereft wraith. This should scare you.

Money or morals? You decide.


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