Friday, March 15, 2013

You don’t do that to me

What does it say about our society that rewards Willy Revillame with so much money and power and drives one college freshman to take her own life because she couldn’t afford to pay her obligations to the country’s State University?

One of the most viewed clips on the video-sharing website, YouTube, is the “you don’t do that to me” tirade of Revillame directed at an actress named, ready? Ethel Booba. He humiliated her on air, she confronted him backstage after, and Revillame, in all his arrogant glory, thought his comeback is worth being viewed by the whole country on a major network during prime time. This isn’t the first time he’s done something like this. He once stopped his show in mid-mediocrity to direct the network to remove an inset on the screen showing live footage of the ongoing funeral of former Pres. Cory Aquino.

He can do all that because he is one of the most popular and highest-paid game-show hosts in the country today. That’s the show where people lining up to get in the studio died in a stampede years ago. Where scantily-clad women gyrate for hours on end to Revillame’s off-key and often off-color singing.

And our society rewards that show with high-ratings and millions in the bank for one Willy Revillame.

The 16-year old college freshman, reportedly the daughter of a part-time taxi driver and an unemployed mother, was forced to file a leave of absence with the country’s state university due to unpaid school fees. The University of the Philippines has a socialized tuition fee system: basically those who have more pay more and those who have less pay less. Students’ financial standings are categorized, and the freshman belonged to Bracket “D” which placed her tuition fee rate at 300-900 per unit. She has not fully paid her tuition for this semester, and U.P. has a “no late payment” policy. She wouldn’t be able to attend school next semester.

She tried applying for a student loan but was denied. No surprise here because any lending institution would like would-be borrowers to show proof first that they don’t need the loan before they approve it. What has a part-time taxi driver got to show for anyway?

She took her own life. But wait, before we start training our guns at Malacañang, at the "establishment," let’s take a look at ourselves first. We are the people who put those people in power. We may be among those who scoff at protesting farmers for tying up traffic forcing you to get stuck in the middle of the road in your air-conditioned car. We’re the ones who shake our heads at students who storm out of classrooms to fight for their right to education and express their sentiments against an oppressive and abusive political system. We may even be among those who laugh at the efforts of a bunch of people doing all they can to save a mere 182 trees.

And we’re also the ones who tune in on a show called Wowowillie religiously every day.

The real reason behind the young woman’s suicide may be debatable – but she represents the millions of our youth today who have got hardly anything to look forward to in this social epoch we’ve laid out for them.

We did this to her.

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