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Willie, TV5 apologize for offensive ‘Willing Willie’ episode

Willie Revillame interviewing a contestant on "Willing Willie." (Courtesy of TV5)Willie Revillame interviewing a contestant on "Willing Willie." (Courtesy of TV5)During the live "Willing Willie" episode on Monday, March 28, host Willie Revillame apologized to those offended by the March 12 episode that featured Jan-Jan Suan, the six-year-old contestant who danced akin to a male erotic dancer in the said primetime variety show.

Over accusations that what he and the show did to Jan-Jan constitutes to child abuse, Revillame said during tonight's "Willing Willie" episode: "Hindi natin gagawin yan sa ating mga kababayan. Nandito po kami para magbigay ng saya at tulong  at pagasa sa mga, kamukha ng mga batang ito. Hindi pa nangangarap e, sa hirap ng buhay. Poverty ang pinaguusapan dito, sa hirap ng buhay ho yan. Andito kami para magbigay ng saya."

"Kung may offend kami, kung may offend ako, humihingi ako ng paumahin. I'm sorry. Pero ang importante dito ay nakita naming masaya ang pamilyang ito," Revillame added.

According to Revillame, he did not know prior to the actual performance that Jan-Jan will dance for the talent portion of "Wiltime Bigtime."

"Una sa lahat, hindi ko alam na ganun ang kanyang talent. Nalaman ko na lang yan dito na ho... Kaya akala ko, kakanta di ba?," he said.

Revillame added: "Ang katotohanan nga nyan, ang kantang po na pinapagamit dyan, yung kanta po na 'Careless Whsiper.' And it's a good thing yung staff namin very sensitive na hindi maganda sa bata na masyadong popular sa video yun. Ito yung gusto ng bata pala. Ito yung request e, sa audition pa lang.

One of the show's major segments, "Wiltime Bigtime" requires its six contestants to perform a "talent" for the main quiz portion of the game. After the performance, Willie gives the contestant an additional cash prize, varying in amount. The "Willie Willie" host gave Jan-Jan 10,000 pesos for dancing to the tune of Dr. Dre's "Next Episode."

Willie also explained Jan-Jan cried because he saw former basketball player Bonel Balingit, who he said Jan-Jan thought was a giant. He said all contestants who auditioned and become contestants of the show had parental consent.

To public officials who criticized the said incident, Revillame said, "Dyusko naman, ang daming problema ng bansa. Ang amin nating problema, tulad ng mga bibitayin. Yung mga corrupt. Tapos ito, maliit na bagay na binastos ko raw yung bata... Wala pong ganun, at hindi ko gagawin yan."

Earlier today, Department of Social Welfare and Development Dinky Soliman issued a statement condemning the "emotional abuse and humiliation bestowed" on Jan-Jan. Read related story.

"Willing Willie" executive producer Jay Montelibano earlier spoke to Yahoo! Southeast Asia and commented that the issue was blown out of proportion.

"It was really taken out of context. Sabi ko that time these people took it out of context. Pinalaki. They made a mountain out of a molehill. I really don't know kasi some of them even in their own blogs even confessed that 'I don't really watch Willing Willie' so sabi ko how can you gauge when you don't watch? Sabi ko di ba you don't even know where these people are coming from," Jay said.

Jay added that the boy actually felt good after that particular episode was aired. "The YouTube video came out the day after [March 13]. In fact, pinag-usapan nga ng tao. Si Jan-Jan nga when we got to see him, talked to him sabi niya sikat na raw siya kasi ang daming bumabati sa kanya."

Jan-Jan's family explains

During Monday's episode, Willie also brought back Jan-Jan and his family in order to clarify and explain the said incident.

According to Diana, Jan-Jan's mother, Jan-Jan has been dancing ever since he was three-years-old.

Jan-Jan's father, Jojo, explained the boy has been joining in school programs and mall contests.

"Yan din ang kanyang talent. Talagang lahat ng tao nagsisigawan talaga sa kanya. Kaya nung narinig ko na may pa-audition kayo... hindi ako nag-atubili na i-audition ko yung anak ko dito. Kagustuhan din naman ni Jan-Jan. Sabi nya, 'papa, gusto ko pumunta nun at magaudition ako'," Jojo said.

The particular dance the boy performed during the March 12 show, which featured talented kids aged from six to 12, was taught by Jan-Jan's uncle, Jojo said.

He added that they merely wanted to support their child. "Syempre, gusto ng anak ko sumikat, gusto nya magartista, kaya yun ang ginawa nya para maiba sya at mapansin sya ng ibang tao," he said.

" Ang masasabi ko lang, dun sa mga naninira at saka sa mga nag-ano sa Youtube, tigilan naman nila kasi hindi naman kagustuhan ng magulang na maging... kagustuhan ng anak ko yun na maipakita ang kanyang talent... Hindi kasalanan ng anak ko na maging ganun kasi yun ang pagkaalam nya, maganda ang ginagawa nya. At saka, marami po ang nagsasabi sa Youtube na 'magaling ang anak mo' at saka yung mga pinsan ko sa America, nagtetext sa akin. Talagang walang may nagsasabi na hindi maganda ang ginawa ang anak," Jojo said.

Diana also rejects the notion that what happened was child abuse.

"Ang masasabi ko lang po, wag po naman po sila (magsabi) ng ganun. Kasi napakasakit sa magulang na sabihan na (na-chi-child abuse) yung anak ko dahil hindi naman po namin tinuturuan ng masama yung anak ko. Sana po maintindihan nyo na yung talent ng anak ko, ganun ko. Gusto lang po nya siguro mag-artista na maexpose sa mga tao kaya gusto nya rin po sana sumayaw o guminhawa po ang buhay namin." she said.

Diana added, "Saka po sa mga ibang channel na... katulad po ng 'Goin' Bulilit.' Bakit po ninyo hindi ninukwestiyon yung mga pinapagawa nyo sa show na yun at saka yung sa anak ko po yung kinukwestiyon nyo ng malaki... Wag nyo po sana masamain yung ginagawa ng anak ko."

TV5 apologizes

Through an official statement, TV5 apologized for featuring Jan-Jan in the March 12 "Wiltime Bigtime" segment, which "viewers may have found offensive or in bad taste."

The statement reads, "We wish to stress that there was never any intention to humiliate or abuse Jan-Jan or any contestant on the show.

"'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."

Like what Willie said during the March 28 episode of the show, the statement further explained that Jan-Jan has been joining mall and school contests and that he cried because of the presence of Balingit. It added that Jan-Jan "appeared to be sad or even in tears, not because he was being forced to dance, but because he felt the dance was 'serious' and he was playing a role."

"Again, TV5 and Wil Productions express profound regret for any insensitivity on their part, and wish to thank all those who have expressed concern.  We are always grateful to be reminded of our obligations to the viewing public.  In turn, we hope to make clear that the objective of the show has always been to bring joy and hope to Filipinos, whether they are participating on the show or viewing at home," the statement ends.

With reports from Glenda Villena

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