It’s no joking matter.

Bad joke. Jessica Soho (left) tells Vice Ganda (right): Rape is not a joke.

Twitter and Facebook was buzzing yesterday: GMA News pillar and anchor Arnold Clavio and other GMA News reporters castigated Vice Ganda on his jokes during his concert last May 17 on Smart Araneta Coliseum about Ms. Jessica Soho, who also is a GMA News pillar, anchor and vice president for News Programs. You can watch the video of the rape and weight jokes here.

Ms. Jessica released a press statement saying, “Rape is not a joke and should never be material for a comedy concert.” She added: “I thank all those who shared my hurt and expressed their support, but this should not be about me but about rape victims who suffer tremendously from this terrible crime. The horrors they go through are unspeakable and should never be taken lightly, especially by way of a cruel joke.”

Vice Ganda has already apologized to Ms. Jessica. “Humihingi po ako ng kapatawaran sa inyo,” Vice Ganda said in a live telecast on ABS-CBN’s noontime program ‘It’s Showtime.’ “Opo, iyon po ay isang biro na maaaring sa inyo ay hindi magandang biro at kung hindi po magandang biro ‘yon at nasaktan ko po kayo talaga, humihingi po ako ng paumanhin, patawad po,” Vice Ganda also said. “At pinapangako ko po sa inyo na hindi na kayo magiging kasama kailanman sa anumang tema ng pagtatanghal ko,” he vowed.

Arnold Clavio (left) to Vice Ganda (right): “Bakit mo binibiktima ang mga taong seryoso sa trabaho nila? Huwag mo silang kasangkapanin para lang makapagpagpatawa.”

In response to the public apology made by Vice Ganda on Wednesday regarding the “gang rape” joke he made at her expense, Ms. Jessica Soho issued the following statement: “I acknowledge the public apology given by Vice Ganda, by way of his TV program. I sincerely hope and pray that this was done with the purest intentions and determination to put this issue behind us. Just to clarify certain points about my phone conversation with him – his call came without warning as his number was not programmed in my phone directory. I told him I wasn’t feeling well and I wasn’t sure I was ready to talk to him. But I clearly remember thanking him for his call. As I’ve said, this is not about me, but about the issue of rape not being an appropriate subject matter for comedy. Rape transcends age, economic class, gender — and even one’s weight. Once again, I thank everyone who gave their support.”

On a report on the Philippine Daily Inquirer website, a top-ranking ABS-CBN executive said by phone that the network wasn’t sure it should get involved. Besides, the executive said, it had been 11 days since the concert at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “Why are they doing this only now—and isn’t it curious that all the complaints so far are coming from their (GMA 7’s) news people?”

Why are they doing this just now? The most obvious answer I could think would be they have just heard of this issue just now. This is me speculating, but perhaps they were still busy with the post-election reports. Is it curious that complaints are coming from their GMA News personalities? No, because they ARE her co-workers, her people and friends. And,  if I’m not mistaken, some journalists from other networks, even from ABS-CBN as well, have expressed their dismay and indignation over the joke.

There are others who accuse that this is just all about network rivalry. Is it? Or are we just evading the true issues and realities at hand, eager to look for other issues to blame but not the real topic that caused this situation?

Many are claiming that the GMA News personalities have blown this issue out of proportion. Supporters of Vice Ganda are saying that other people are over-reacting to the issue, and that a joke should be taken as it is: a joke. Perhaps they haven’t heard of the saying, “Jokes are half-meant.”

Is it really over-reacting? I beg to differ. These people reacting are people who have worked with and for Ms. Jessica Soho. These are her colleagues and friends. She have even mentored some of these people. Others, are her admirers, who respect her work as a credible and outstanding journalist. So I believe it is unavoidable for them to rise up, air their opinions and criticism, their indignation to the ‘joke.’ You cannot blame them for being hurt for a person they idolize, look-up to and admire. It is a natural reaction for us to defend someone we care for, someone we respect, and someone we admire. Had things gone either way, I would believe that Vice Ganda would also be defended by his friends and colleagues.

Rape is one of the most heinous crimes in the world. Something that has plagued news reports and police blotters for many years. It is not something to joke about, especially in a place like Smart Araneta Coliseum. In a blog that many are saying is an “objective” blog, the author has this to say on this point of the issue: “Evidently, the central theme of the Jessica Soho jokes was WEIGHT. Not her achievements. Not her womanhood. Not her value as a person. NOT RAPE.” At first, I really don’t know how to react on this statement. Not only it is discriminating, but also very insensitive. I’m sorry, but has our society gone that low? We now defend a joke so badly made, discriminating and directed to a respectable person?

Some would say that in comedy bars that kind of joke is a common theme, a common routine. There is a BIG difference in doing a joke in a comedy bar, and doing it in Araneta Coliseum. There is a BIG difference in the subject, timing, setting and placement of a joke. My point is, jokes should be done in the right place, right time, right audience and the right subject matter. Should Vice Ganda also poke fun of Kris Aquino’s son Josh, since it’s only a joke? A joke is not a joke if it is made in bad taste, made against the wrong subject matter, even if the intention good and is just to make people laugh.

Some would say that the jokes done by Vice Ganda to Kris Aquino, Boy Abunda and other ABS-CBN personalities are much more worse than the joke done to Ms. Jessica. The difference is the level of familiarity between the persons involved. Vice, Kris and Boy, and other ABS personalities are known to be close friends and are of the same network, thus the jokes are delivered as it is intended: no malice and misunderstanding between them because they know each other on a personal or professional level. That does not apply to Jessica Soho and Vice Ganda. Joking between friends is common, but to joke about someone you are unfamiliar with, in a concert nonetheless, particularly a joke that offensive, will definitely garner bad attention.

Every comedian should know the limits of his or her act. There is a line between comedy and discrimination. For some it may be funny, but for most it might be offensive. Learn to qualify what you say, especially if you are a influential personality. Whether it is about Jessica Soho or not, whether Vice Ganda made the joke or not, the point is: You are and should be responsible to the words you utter, whether it is a joke, a statement or anything else. Because there are things and topics that are no joking matter.

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Personal: I recommend reading Ms. Lia Mañalac-Del Castillo’s post on this issue. She made good points and drove straight to the issue at hand. Link: http://thedivajournalist.com/2013/05/29/on-vice-gandas-comedy/

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Sound bites:

“Ang hirap nga lang kung si Jessica Soho magbo-bold. Kailangan gang rape lagi. Sasabihin ng rapist, ‘Ipasa ang lechon.’ Sasabihin naman ni Jessica, ‘Eh nasaan yung apple?'” – Vice Ganda at I-Vice Ganda Mo ‘Ko concert last May 17, 2013

 “Bakit mo binibiktima ang mga taong seryoso sa trabaho nila? Huwag mo silang kasangkapanin para lang makapagpagpatawa. Bakit hindi taga-diyan sa inyo ang gawin mong subject ng jokes mo?” – Arnold Clavio, One on One with Igan kasama si Lala Roque, Super Radyo dzBB, May 28, 2013

“Naghihilom daw ang lahat ng sugat. Pero may mga sugat na hindi lamang matagal maghilom, kun’di nag-iiwan pa ng panghabambuhay na pilat, gaya po ng rape. Sa lahat ng kultura, saanmang sulok ng mundo, mula noon hanggang ngayon, isa pa rin sa pinakamatinding salot sa sangkatauhan lalo na sa mga kababaihan, ang karumal-dumal na krimen ng panggagahasa. Sa Pilipinas, hindi bababa sa tatlo ang nare-rape kada araw. Ang mas matindi pa, rape din ang numero unong krimen na bumibiktima ngayon sa mga bata. Mas mataas pa nga raw ang bilang na ito kung tutuusin, lalo na’t hindi naman lahat ng biktima, handang ihayag ang di-makataong karanasan. Sa madalas ay mapang-husga pa ang lipunan. Sa tantiya ng United Nations, sa kada 5 babae ngayon sa buong mundo, isa ang na-rape na… o maaaring ma-rape pa lamang. Sa ngayon, patuloy pa raw na tumataas ang bilang ng mga biktima ng panggagahasa. Kaya naman isa po itong paksa na hinding-hindi dapat maging laman ng mga biro.” – Jessica Soho, Post Script, State of the Nation with Jessica Soho, May 28, 2013

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“Hypocrisy is the state of pretending to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have.”

Don’t accuse someone of hypocrisy, especially if you have absolutely no personal knowledge of a person’s virtues, moral or religious beliefs, and principles.

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Judgment Day: Eleksyon 2013

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May 13, 2013. At exactly 7 am, registered voters will troop to their voting precincts to elect their next legislators and local government officials. The day that the tables are turned, when the power shifts – to the people. Every candidate is at the mercy of the voters, whether they would sit for another term or not, or serve for the next 3 years or not. May 13, 2013. Election day. A day in every 3 years that we are given the chance to forge our lives, and the lives of our fellow Filipinos as we elect the leaders of this country.

Politics, experience, The Senate and Nancy

The past few days numerous tweets, posts and news articles were circulating over the web about Nancy Binay. I’ll get to the point: people are contesting her candidacy because of her inexperience in the field of politics. To be fair, she has served in different non-government organizations and was her father’s and her mother’s personal assistant. To those who are attacking her, let me tell you that as a personal assistant of a mayor or a high ranking official, you are immersed, if not even involved with the affairs and decision making process of the particular person you are serving. It’s not fair to compare a PA of an actor/actress to a PA of a government official – those have two very different job descriptions, duties and responsibilities. But still,as her detractors may say, such experience is really not enough to warrant a position in the Senate. As a Congressman or even a Councilor, it may be enough, but as a Senator? I am one of those who think that you need more than that to be a Senator of this Republic.

Having said that, I also do not want to see Nancy Binay win. But I also believe that attacking her below the belt, is not fair and not just. Particularly the satirical articles in websites masquerading as news websites that directed against her. It seems poor taste for the authors of the website to that particularly that elections is tomorrow and surely, many readers will take the article as cold, hard truth. Some will surely misinterpret the intentions of such article. and instead of giving a breather to serious news, it would look like a political attack against the candidate. And to tell you the truth? In my opinion, the article is not ridiculing the person anymore, but discrediting and degrading her instead.

The best solution? Don’t vote for her if you don’t want her. Period.

Thrilla in Manila: Asiong vs. Dirty Harry

Tale of the Tape of "The Battle for Manila"

Tale of the Tape of “The Battle for Manila”

Meanwhile in the City of Manila, many are anticipating the finale of the battle between Former Pres. Erap “Asiong Salonga” Estrada and incumbent Mayor Alfredo “Dirty Harry” Lim, for the position of Mayor of the City. It’s quite fun and irritating to see two old men arguing, trading barbs and throwing mud at each other, instead of discussing issues and problems that is straddling the City now. Have you seen Estrada’s political ad? I think is stupid to accuse the present administration of corruption and inefficient management considering that his running mate, Isko Moreno, is part of that administration for so long. So how will solve the problem if he is part of the problem? Weird right?

Tomorrow, the people of Manila will decide who will lead them for another 3 years: Estrada or Lim? The decision will be known after the counting and canvassing of the votes.

Cash or check? Vote buying in the PH

Because of the COMELEC’s claim that the Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) Machines is not vulnerable to hacking thus not susceptible to cheating (unlike what some computer experts claim) candidates are resorting to vote buying. Appealing to the Filipino’s sense of utang na loob, vote buying is one of the “effective way’ to ensure a win. I agree. And at the same time, disagree.

Perhaps in some families, this will happen. Since they (the candidates) gave them money to provide for the family, they will vote for that candidate thinking that they owe him or her for the ‘help’ they gave to the voter. But, some ‘entrepreneurial’ Filipinos, or wais ika-nga sa Tagalog, will accept and use the money, but still voting for their preferred candidates. Both are bad, but the latter is the lesser evil.

COMELEC tried to implement a resolution to curtail vote buying, by putting a ‘money ban’ or a restriction in withdrawing and carrying large amounts of money. While the intention is good, the consequences might be disastrous if implemented because it would harm businesses and the economy. Immediately the SC stepped in and implemented a status-quo ante order.

Can we stop vote buying? Not today I think. Until our voters are educated, vote buying will continue. Until there are still those people who are poor and cannot provide for their families, vote buying will still continue. And until there are politicians and candidates who take advantage of these people? There will still be vote buying.

Voting preferences: Who should you vote?

Charismatic. Handsome. Beautiful. Has ‘Sex Appeal.’ Are these the qualifications voters use to choose who they will vote? Apparently, yes, some does include these characteristics in their checklist. Sorry, but I can only say to you these words: Please, wag ka na lang bumoto. Masasayang lang ang boto mo sigurado.

Why not vote for someone who has ideals? Someone who has integrity, who is honest and trustworthy. Someone who has a vision, a dream for this country, and not for himself. Someone who is independent and has their own stand. Someone who has conviction to stand in what they believe in. Someone who is not a lackey that will follow the orders of those more powerful than them. Someone who is firm in their beliefs. Someone who stand behind the Filipino people.

Vote for those who fight for what is right, what is just and what is proper. Vote those who fight in strengthening the Filipino family and not ‘advocating’ policies to destroy it. Vote a candidate who believes in the strength, abilities, talents and capabilities of the Filipino.

Photo courtesy of GMA News' Dapat Tama advocacy.

Photo courtesy of GMA News’ Dapat Tama advocacy.

Bumoto ng kandidato na may nagawa, may ginagawa, at may gagawin pa. Suportahan yung kandidato na naniniwala na may pag-asa pa ang Pilipinas, at naniniwala na may pag-asa pa ang mga Pilipino. Bumoto ng TAMA. Dapat Tama!

It does not necessarily mean that you have to vote 12-0 or whatever crap that they are suggesting, just because THEY believe that those people will help their ‘tuwid na daan.‘ NO. Use your mind, think and analyze whether or not those you are voting will really help our country. Use your conscience. Vote not because someone dictated you to do so, but do it in your own will and conviction.

But most importantly, VOTE. Because your one vote can help make the changes we need. It will dictate the future of this country and its people.

Big 3 Networks’ election coverage

ABS-CBN News' Halalan 2013 coverage logo

ABS-CBN News’ Halalan 2013 coverage logo

On a personal note, I’m very excited to watch the election coverage of the news organizations of the three networks: GMA-7’s GMA News and Public Affairs, ABS-CBN’s ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs and TV5’s News5.

GMA News' Eleksyon 2013 coverage logo

GMA News’ Eleksyon 2013 coverage logo

I do hope they do a good job, presenting election news and information to the people truthfully, in a fair and balanced manner.  In the Service of the Filipino Worldwide, Walang Kinikilingan, Walang Pinoprotektahan, Walang Kasinungalingan, Walang Bahid Pulitika, Serbisyong Totoo Lang. 🙂

Truth, Lies and Flattery: Campaign ads

We are now on the middle of the campaign circus… I mean, period for the national candidates, senators and party-lists. We are on the verge of the local campaign period which will start on Black Saturday, March 30. But the reality is, the campaign period already started last 2012. In guise of “infomercials” and anniversary ads. And I quote, “Hanep na ang buhay!”

Delicadeza is a common word used before, during and after elections, but ironically,  seldom practiced. Is it not showing delicadeza by not releasing what they like to call infomercials but are really campaign ads? Is it not showing delicadeza not to run again if you are accused, been accused, and worse, convicted of criminal, civil, even election-related crimes committed against the people, pardoned or not? (I’m not going to include being accused of corruption because well, half or maybe more than half should not run if they have delicadeza. Sad truth.) Is it not showing delicadeza by respecting the vote of the people, instead of complaining, whining and crying out that you’ve been cheated? Well, I say, Filipinos are really familiar with the word. Many Filipino politicians meanwhile are also familiar with the word, but do not practice it.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) have reminded candidates that campaigning is prohibited tomorrow, Maundy Thursday and on Good Friday, to show respect and deference to the observance of Holy Week and as stated in Section 5 of Republic Act 7166. The Commission (@COMELEC) asks us netizens to report to them those who are illegally campaigning by using the hashtag #HuliWeek and #SumbongMo on Twitter. We should especially keep an eye on local candidates, which I’ve noticed as their campaign period looms, the number of illegal posters, streamers and leaflets are cropping everywhere, especially in Quezon City. And considering that their campaign period hasn’t even started yet.

Truth and Lies. Is what you really see, is what you get? Do what they say, what they do really reflect what kind of person, what kind of leader, what kind of public servant they are? Not always, especially not on their campaign ads.  We can’t deny that political names like Binay, Aquino, Estrada, Arroyo, Magasaysay, Enrile, and others still has a pull on the masses. Names of showbiz personalities like Revilla, Sotto and Estrada (again) are also very easy to be recalled in the minds of the people. But, I believe that a true leader and public servant is not measured by his family name and lineage, but by his achievements, accomplishments and actions. Continuing your parents advocacy and goals when they were in position is really an admirable and good goal, especially if these projects, laws and accomplishments really help the people. But, you can’t really continue anything, or something not when they haven’t started anything at all. Di ba Poe? On a different point, on the topic of eyesore TV ads, it is especially ridiculous to see the President and Risa Hontiveros in the ad where they “sing”  her supposed advocacies. And by all things holey, she even has the gall to appear as a guest in an entertainment show like Gandang Gabi Vice!! Is that really the right forum to share platforms and advocacy? Or she wants to be discovered and be an entertainer? One word: TRAPO. Do they really think that voters are stupid enough to fall for that?  Well, recent SWS survey results (which gladly she’s not in the top 12) say that perhaps, our voters are starting to be wise and educated.  (The “formula on political ads on this Rappler.com report.) To add, an ABS-CBN News report says that she and her fellow candidates in the administration and their allies are the top poster violators. If they are already violating laws and rules blatantly and they are not even elected, what more if they get elected? Quoting GMA News’ election advocacy, DAPAT TAMA, sa isip at sa salita, DAPAT TAMA lalung lalu na sa gawa.

A candidate must be measured by qualifications, by what he has done and what he will do when elected. That is why we can’t rely on ads to define who a candidate is, what his/her platforms are. Thankfully, television networks and their news departments set up senatorial forums and interviews where we voters can measure, gauge, and asses the candidates if they are  qualified in the post they are running for. It is up to us voters to be alert, wise and educated on who we vote for. We cannot always rely on others to act for us, we ourselves must act. Even in the simplest way, by watching forums, participating in discussions will help you be an educated voter. Stop complaining, and start acting. Let us not be apathetic to the state of the politics in the country.  Because as ABS-CBN’s BMPM says, “It takes a nation, to build a nation.”

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This post is part of News and Opinions’ participation in Eleksyon 2013

Next on News and Opinions’ Eleksyon 2013: Political Dynasties