Filipinos never failed to amaze me in their unswerving resolve of living in laughter despite of life’s difficulties. You see them in TV everyday; children in ragged clothes singing and dancing, old men and women shouting in joy, and a crowd of audience laughing so hard ostensibly oblivious to problems surrounding them.
A year ago, I had a chance of watching live Wowowee, a variety show that caters to help unfortunate people thru contests with big money at stake. If you want to see the stark reality of poverty in the Philippines, I guess this is the best place to be.
First of all, the show isn’t just your ordinary one where contestants play and win prizes. At the start, Willie Revillame, the host would sing and promote first his album. No, he isn’t a singer in a real sense but his albums are quite a big hit to the masses.
Oh, there’s also this occasional greetings coming from OFW’s where they give dollars to help poor people.
Then, the show would continue with more dancing and singing while they choose their “Bigaten” (I’m not sure if I’ve spelled it correctly). The more foolish they look while dancing and singing- the bigger the chance for them to be chosen.
There was this time that people needed to pout their lips while singing Willie’s latest song and people gamely did it for fun. Yeah, just for the sheer fun of it…
No, the game won’t start yet.
Right after the commercial, the contestants would be introduced and they would go through interview by the host- the man of the show, Willie Revillame. There, you’ll hear real stories about poverty, sufferings and personal (I mean family) problems.
Old men and women, children of all ages bare their souls for the whole world to hear. Yes, the show is being aired also in different parts of the world thru the Filipino Channel.
Crying of contestants is just an ordinary occurrence and so is the shedding of tears of the audience. The more touching stories to share, the more the audience (that includes OFW’s) will be enamored to give something- dollars most of the times out of sympathy.
I guess Willie is the most charming person I’ve ever seen in television. Why not? He seems to be idolized by everybody at all ages. He receives countless hugs everyday and he makes old women cry because of happiness just by merely seeing him.
I hear kids saying that they want to grow up like the sexy dancers of the show, a wife telling her husband to stop womanizing, more kids revealing that their fathers abandoned them, men saying they have no works to feed their families, and more and more people telling their real stories of poverty and family problems with the accompaniment of, “Pa, magbago ka na…”
As if just by being a guest in the show you can make somebody change already with a snap of a finger. Willie gets lot of support from advertisers because of these stories that touch the soul of even the toughest creatures.
Oh, no. After listening to heart- rending stories of these people, the game won’t start yet. They need to showcase first their talents in dancing, singing, and virtually anything and everything that they can do regardless of the fact that sometimes contestants make a complete fool of themselves. Because of that, they’ll have instant cash even if the game has not started yet.
The questions during the game are not really mind-boggling as you think they are. It’s usually just for the mere sake of having to ask questions. Of course, it’s for the benefit of most contestants who don’t even have their own televisions at home.
Now, the prizes at stake are really huge. So gigantic that people are willing to join in a long queue and sacrifice a day’s earnings just to be able to join the contest. Willie of Fortune, an apt title for a game that gives luck to those who were born unfortunate in this country.
While Willie is doing an interview with the contestants, his spectators laugh and cry at the same time with them. The show is the live stage of entertainment starring people in poverty and in need.
Undeniably, there’s something in the show that lured more and more viewers. As a matter of fact, his followers varied…from ordinary housewives to Filipinos working abroad.
Sometimes, I shake my head in amazement whenever I hear old women shouting and crying at the same time while hugging and kissing Willie, “Sa wakas, andito na ako…” (At last, I’m already here).
His show is so popular that I could still vividly remember the time when 71 people died and countless others were wounded because of their quest for their dreams. They thought they’ll find it only in Willie’s show.
It was during the first year anniversary of the show when a stampede killed 71 people- mostly old women and children. It was the promise of millions of prizes that made the crowd crazy with eagerness to be inside the dome. They became uncontrollable until such time that all hell broke loose.
I’m not against with his show but there is a part of me questioning if in a way the show is exploiting stories of those in need.
Willie indubitably helps people forget even for a day their sufferings and problems. However, what exactly are the boundaries of shows like this? Is it proper to ask children very personal questions just for them to be commiserated with?
Oh, yeah. They do serve as an inspiration to many. But, after the show what happens to them? Do they become a better person? How long the prize lasts? A day or two?
It’s indeed a game of life. People play, some win and some lose but everybody got to enjoy…for a grumbling stomach anything at all.