Things that people do for Willie

Posted on November 10, 2010

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To help her mother regain her missing one thousand pesos, a 13-year-old girl from Bulacan took a bus to Manila last Friday, without her parents’ permission, to try her luck lining up to be a ‘Willing Willie’ contestant. The TV5 newscast ‘Balitaang Tapat’ reported that the girl survived on P30, as well as water and candy, as she waited in vain for four days.  She had to turn to begging in Cubao, and was weak in exhaustion when TV5 staff found her yesterday.

Justifying her risky decision, the girl explained, “Si Willie po kasi tumutulong sa tao, kaya doon po ako nagbakasakali talaga.”

For the sake of impressionable people like her, Willie Revillame and his staff should stop creating the illusion, as they do in their theme song, that ‘Willing Willie’ is the “programang tutulong sa bayan.” Let’s get real: how many people do they really get to help every day? Even if, for a year, they hand out money to 100 people daily, they cannot address the poverty of more than 0.1 percent of the country. That’s not a typo. It’s less than one percent, based on statistics that a third of our population of 90 million is poor. And the help that they give — how long do we expect a few hundreds or thousands of pesos to last?

We’re not saying they should stop. It’s fun to win in game shows, or watch others win. But let’s keep a game show a game show, and not masquerade it as a poverty-reduction program. Some people will argue that the latter is not the show’s intention. Fine. But sociologists will tell us that an action may have intended and unintended consequences.

Either way, the case of this girl — as well as the Ultra stampede that killed 71 — is a monster created by this kind of show’s pretentiousness.

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Posted in: Media