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Willie Revillame: From the Eyes of a Beholder

By Lita T. Cruz
First Posted 13:38:00 04/20/2011

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Celebrities, Television

MANILA, Philippines?Willie Revillame is a television host, actor, and a recording artist in the Philippines. He was the former host of noontime variety show of ABS-CBN's ?Wowowee? and is the host of TV5's primetime variety show ?Willing Willie.?

Willing Willie is a program that was conceptualized to bring joy and hope and shine the spotlight on ordinary Filipinos. The program aims to provide a venue for everyone to show their talents, tell their stories and make their dreams come true. This is the thrust of everyone involved in the program, particularly its host, Willie Revillame.

I have heard several good and controversial things about Willie Revillame but I really didn?t care as being in the United States with no TFC (ABS-CBN?s The Filipino Channel), I was not able to watch his Wowowee show and was not familiar with him.

I had promoted his Wowowee show in Houston, Texas through my on-line news way back in 2008 only because his fans in that city requested me to. I was offered free tickets to see his show, however, driving from Dallas for eight hours round trip was not something I wanted to do.

How come I am talking about Willie Revillame now? Well, the show Willing Willie is in danger of being off the air, because the host and co-producer, Willie Revillame is just sick and tired of all the negative accusations being hurled at him by his nemesis. His every move and activities seemed to be under microscopic review and his integrity is being attacked even on issues not within his control.

I am a Filipino American retiree who visits her sons and their families in the Philippines yearly. I went to the Philippines last Feb. 4, 2010 and got back to the United States April 11, 2011.

Last Nov. 8, 2010, I eagerly watched the show after reading on the news that Shalani Soledad, would be introduced as a co-host of Willing Willie. I am an avid admirer of Shalani Soledad, the councilor of Valenzuela City and the ex-girlfriend of my then favorite President Benigno Aquino III. I was one of the millions who googled for Shalani for the last few months since I first saw her picture and video campaigning for Noynoy (Aquino?s nickname). I was impressed at first glance. I have beautiful children, however, I found Shalani very demure, charming and fantastically regal.

I eventually became a regular viewer of Willing Willie which I enjoyed so much. I started to admire Willie?s concern for his audience. He could spot old women, special children and indigents amidst the crowd. He gave them extra attention and something to take home. I also witnessed how straight forward he was correcting his staff when they were not focused on their jobs. Willie is an entertainer but I don?t think he is a good actor, because he was not good enough to hide his emotions. He wanted to make his audience happy by being himself. That is Willie, I realized. A highly principled man and someone willing to take the risk by fighting for what he believes is right, for him, for the show and for his audience. He?d rather vanish from the phase of fame and glory rather than pretend to be someone he is not. If people see that as an imperfection, show us someone who is perfect.

Last March 12, I had dinner with my children and grand kids. I was not able to watch the show. My granddaughter knowing how I love Willing Willie emailed me a link where I could see the dance of 6 year old Jan Jan Suan. She had a note that said ?grand ma, you missed this.. ang galing galing ng bata?. I watched it and I was highly impressed with the gracefulness of the kid. I thought crying was part of his dance. Even after his performance, each time he heard the music, he would automatically dance. The kid was smart and talented. Everybody in the studio applauded and appreciated the boy.

I was surprised to find out that Willie Revillame and the show were in trouble with different sectors the days that followed. On one of the succeeding shows, the parents of Jan Jan came to confirm the boy?s love for dancing. His father also said that Jan Jan can easily shed tears. The reason why he cried while dancing was he got scared of the big man Balingit, thinking that he was a giant. Jan Jan?s father said, his son has joined several competitions and was admired by the public for the same dance. The mother of Jan Jan cried out to the public begging for understanding. Their son has a talent and at his young tender age wanted to be popular in the entertainment world. They are just being supportive. They don?t use the reward money that Jan Jan gets each time. They buy toys and outfits for him out of it.

For the benefit of those who have not seen that particular segment, the part of Jan Jan was played again. I saw the part when Wille asked him ?anong kakantahin mo? of which Jan Jan replied ?hindi ako dunong kumanta.? He was cute the way he said it and everybody laughed with admiration. Willie even kissed him on the head when he asked him to show his talent.

This reminds me of one TV show I saw in the Philippines last Valentine?s Day. The show featured boys and girls playing the role of adults in a relationship. One boy played cupid aiming his bow and arrow to them and the children would act lovey dovey after being hit. This was a regular show according to my daughter in law. How come no one condemned the parents who allowed their children to be mainstays in this show? How come no one noticed this and brought it to the attention of all the government agencies? I am sure these kids are being paid. But are they being exploited? Why is Willing Willie singled out?

In fairness to Willie Revillame, he didn?t know what talents the contestants would showcase in his show. His staff auditioned and screened the contestants. Willie conducted interview before they show their talents, gauging the extent of help they needed. He rewarded all the contestants. How could Jan Jan be singled out?

In one Willing Willie episode, there was a particular segment wherein a young teen burst into tears about her and her mom being abandoned and she had stopped going to school. Willie gave her a big amount of money for tuition and asked her to take a key and see if she could start and win the Foton car worth P900,000. She won. Was it deliberately done? Willie picked the key and handed it to the contestant. There were others who became instant millionaires within four months that I was watching; maids, jobless and homeless people living on the street. No write ups? No positive comments?

I witnessed at Willing Willie the so many unfortunate people who ended up having something big and moderate at the end of the show. I saw hopes on the eyes of the audience who patiently lined up for several days just to be in the show and try their luck. I saw love and care on the face of Willie each time he gave away gifts and financial help. Summing up all the money that he gave out during the show, my mental computation says Willie Revillame is giving away his entire income from the show to the poor. Who among the wealthy would do this?

I never met Willie Revillame and he does not even know or heard of me. I am not defending him. I am just voicing out the truth of what I witnessed. How would I feel if I were in his shoes? What will happen to the people he can help if he decides to discontinue the show? Who will have the same tender heart to take over and do the same act of kindness to his recipients? Let us not be cruel to these poor people. Let us not be judgmental on a person who, in spite of all the negative attacks he receives, continues to reach out to help. Who are we to judge in the first place?

I am back in the United States and I saw the last live show of Willing Willie before my departure, where he explained his side and his decision to be in hiatus for two weeks. I shed tears for someone who does not even know me. I say a rosary for a person who gets fed up with all the attacks he is being subjected to. May God help him during this moment of emotional torture and excruciating pain. Is this what he gets for loving and sharing his wealth to the poor Filipino people?

May God continue to bless him so he can go on with his crusade for the indigents. May he be strong enough to handle all criticisms and may he remember that even our Lord Jesus Christ was nailed on the cross by people who condemned Him. If he gives up, he is giving up his sentiment for the less fortunate who love and depend on him. May he be understood by the Filipino people who dislike and hate him and may they understand that in spite of his success as an entertainer, he is still a regular guy with imperfection. Again, show us a perfect person if you know one.

Peace be with all of us! (Oh yes, I am using Pau for my arthritis and Glutamax on my face because of the endorsement of Willing Willie.)

(Lita T. Cruz is the editor & publisher of online Filipino American Events and Announcement USA)

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