Is Willie Revillame Really Helping the Poor?


In less than a week, the controversial show Willing Willie is supposed to go back on air after spending a month in hiatus amidst controversy regarding the March 12 episode where a six-year-old boy was told to repeatedly dance in a sensual manner in front of a live studio audience and broadcast onto TV screens nationwide. The show, which is undoubtedly a great hit with the masses, has served as a beacon of hope in the middle of all the hardships of the ordinary Filipino family with promises of entertainment and easy money for everyone. Indeed in no time at all, host Willie Revillame has gathered numerous followers and avid supporters as he acts as their Messiah in desperate times.

The show’s soaring ratings coupled with its amazingly humongous support from its advertisers have made Revillame richer and richer. After a little over five years, the former low-budget-film side-kick actor now boasts of owning several mansions, a fleet of sports cars and two private yachts. His tremendous wealth has pushed him high upon a pedestal, as his supporters fall faithfully in line in hopes that they could get a chance to enter the TV5 studios to catch a glimpse of their saviour and perhaps pocket a few thousands of pesos.

Revillame keeps doling out wads of cash to anyone he deems needy enough and/or is willing enough to humiliate themselves for the sake of mass entertainment. “He is helping the poor,” is the defense most of his supporters give to his critics, “He also gives millions of pesos to Bantay Bata and Gawad Kalinga, and the victims of Ondoy, etc. Kayo ba kaya nyo yun?” But is he really helping the poor?

Watching the show, no one can deny that the cash prizes are sizeable enough to tantalize people into believing that Revillame actually want to help them out of the goodness of his heart.

But take a look at one episode of the show. In the April 7 episode, a total of Php237,000 in cash was given away as prize-money. This, discounting the monetary value of the gift packs which serve as consolation prizes. Breakdown of the total is seen here. This is a rough estimate on the daily cash-out of the show, assuming that the jackpot prizes were not given away. Nevertheless, with the sporadic cases of a contestant going home with the jackpot, it is safe to assume that on a daily basis the show gives out around Php220,000. Indeed, a huge amount.

Also, we cannot just dismiss the giving heart of Willie Revillame because he also hands out a few thousands of pesos extemporaneously. He gave Php5,000 to a group of five who had travelled from a barrio in Misamis Oriental; P15,000 to the group from Basilan; and P4,000 for the medications of a lola who cried when she hugged the host. Moreover, if he feels that the contestant is deserving enough, or had humiliated herself enough, he gives bonuses; or if he feels good that day, he might lead her on with hints to eventually snag the jackpot prize. With money being thrown about willy-nilly – here and there and everywhere in the TV5 studios – the pedestal upon which Pappy Willie stands goes up even higher.

With all of the money being showered on mawkish displays of melodrama and pathos, the viewing audience can easily be mesmerized and blinded from the truth as the Revillame’s razzle dazzle distracts them from the show’s true comings and goings. Following the pulling out of advertisement pull-outs by the show’s sponsors, Wil Productions business unit head Jay Montelibano, spilled the beans by saying that the show averages P8..5-9 M pesos in revenue daily.

But aside from the advertising revenue, Revillame gets huge amounts of other income from the TV5 network, which Montelibano calls the “generous partner.”

So now, we are now left wondering – just how generous is Revillame really to his devotees?

Let us compare the estimated P220,000 daily cash out with the P9M daily revenue from the ads sponsors. The yawning disparity between these two figures yells out the loud truth. If the Willie, so full of grace, had really wanted to help the poor and marginalized, why only a pittance of P220,000? Where does the remaining P8.78M go? The answer is very obvious. Just go to Corinthian Gardens and visit Revillame’s mansion.

It is easy to get lured with all these fascinating doling out gimmicks that Revillame and his show pander off as entertainment. The superficial kind-heartedness shown on the show is well-acted enough to give the audience, especially those in dire financial straits, false hopes masquerading as cheap entertainment. With a measly few hundreds of thousands of pesos given out daily on the show, Revillame and his team go laughing to the bank with millions of pesos to buy all the luxuries they want.

Now if he really is out to help the poor, then why all his flashy cars and yachts? Isn’t it obvious that he is using the poor to propel his own financial interests? Indeed the answer is plain to see for those willing to look beyond their TV screens – again, just look for Revillame’s mansion in Corinthian Gardens.