Sunday, July 24, 2011

Two seconds from impact

Two seconds from impact, and all I can think of is "Is this it?" 

I was at peace.

A few minutes after 12 noon today, July 24, 2011, as I was riding a jeepney from Katipunan to UP, I was looking at a white L300 van going on full speed towards the jeep I was riding as we were making a left turn towards UP.

Then it was all a blur. Sounds of metal hitting each other, aluminum twisting and glass breaking. It was as if time stood still for a brief moment. I remember being thrown on the floor, a hand or an elbow hit my left eye, and I felt weight on top of me.

And my first thought was: I AM ALIVE!

And then people started crying. Someone said, "I can't move".  And then a young woman cried "There's blood on my head." There were a number calling for help, my self included.

The drivers of both vehicles arguing who was at fault. (FGrate 2011)
Then, I tried to feel my head for any blood. There was none. Feeling that I can move, I tried going down and called for help. I wanted to be out of the way, feeling that I was ok. Standing in the center of the highway, I tried to remember my name and tried to form one sentence. Since I can remember my name, and the sentence I formed sounded coherent to me, I concluded I don't have any damage to my head. I tried feeling my other body parts, but there was no wet spot. My hips are sore for hitting the floor, and my left eye was sore too, but that was it. I think I am OK.

I looked at the other guy who went down also, he seemed OK, no visible wound or blood.

People started coming, calling for taxis and other vehicles to carry the wounded to the UP Infirmary which is only a few minutes away.

When all those who are wounded were brought to the Infirmary already, I went back to the jeepney and joined the other onlookers. The damage to the jeep isn't much, but during impact, it felt like it was totally crushed. I took some photos, and decided it was time to leave. There was nothing else I can do.

I decided to walk a bit inside UP. While walking, I was able to reflect on a few things.

First, if this happened in Commonwealth Avenue, I doubt if I would have survived. The van would have been running faster and the impact would have been greater.

Second, I was lucky to be sitting where I was sitting at the time of impact. I saw the van as it was approaching us up to the point of impact. The lady in front of me was directly at the point of impact, and she was bloody. And most of those who were serious (as per my amateur assessment) were sitting on the right side of the jeep.

Third, almost everyone would agree that a lot of drivers in Metro Manila are not worthy to be issued a divers license. And yet how many of us are acting on it? When do we stop complaining and start doing something about the problem? How many accidents would have to happen for us to say, enough is enough? Does the victim have to be someone close to us for us to act?

Then maybe it's too late.

Fourth, I found my immediate reaction amusing. Two seconds before impact, and all I can think of is "Is this it?"

I was at peace. 

This is in contrast to my reaction a few years ago when I was also in the face of death.I wrote about this experience here, but looking back, I remember being angry. As a gun was pointed at me, I was asking, "Why me?, Why now?, Why this way?"

But this time I felt ready. And I guess this is because after the first incident, I made an assessment of my life and made some drastic changes. I quit my 8-5 job to spend more time with my family, friends and in doing the things that I love. I traveled more, love deeply, forgave easily, held no grudges against anyone, and basically try to go to bed every night being at peace with the fact that tomorrow is not guaranteed.

And lastly, this experience has again made me reexamine my life.

Am I in a point where I want my life to be? Can I really afford to give up everything at this point to pursue the love of my life who is at the other side of the world? Do I really want to? Questions that I need to answer, and soon.

But as for today, let us celebrate life. It may be short, but we can definitely make it sweet.

Patuloy na umiibig sa Pilipinas,
At naniniwala sa galing ng Pilipino,

Froilan Grate | GreenMinds

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Willie, the boy who wouldn't smile, and the issue of child's rights (A compilation)

Below is a compilation of statements and documents related to the child abuse incident on the March 12, 2011 episode of the show Willing Willie by Mr. Willie Revillame on TV5.

In the said episode, also posted on YouTube (now deleted) , a six-year-old boy named Mike (not his real name) was shown dancing “ala-macho dancer," much to the delight of the host and the studio audience. As seen in the video, however, the boy was clearly distressed and humiliated by the said experience as evidenced by his crying while supposedly “entertaining” Mr. Revillame and his audience.

About Us
Our complaint letter
The signatories
Timeline of Events
Froilan's Clarification on ABS-CBN's participation

The Show
Original Sponsors
Advertisers and Contacts
Transcript of Willie Revillame's Speech on Willing Willie, April 8

Statements and Replies
Department of Social Welfare and Development
Movies and Television review and Classification Board
Apology of TV5 and Mr. Revillame
Philippine Association of National Advertisers
Commision on Human Rights
Council for the Welfare of Children
Full statement of TV5 on the measures it is undertaking
Pia Cayetano
Ateneo Human Rights Center
St. Scholastica's MassCom Dept
UP College of MassComr
World Vision

Advertisers' Action and Statements
Unilever Ad Pull out on all live game shows
Jollibee Food Corporation
Procter and Gamble
CDO Food Corporations
Cebuana Lhuiller

House Resolution Condemning Child Abuse on Willing Willie

Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, Committee Chair, Youth, Women and Family Affairs
Hon. Corazon "Dinky" Juliano-Soliman, Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development
Hon. Grace Poe Llamanzares, Chairman, Movies and Television Ratings and Classification Board
Mr. Manny Pangilinan, Chairman, TV5
Justice Santiago M. Kapunan, Officer in Charge, Integrated Bar of The Philippines
Mr. John Rojo, President, Philippine Association of National Advertisers
Ms. Charmaine Canillas, Chairman, Ad Standards Council
Ateneo Human Rights Center
Council for the Welfare of Children


We wish to bring to your attention a deplorable incident that occurred during the March 12, 2011 episode of Willing Willie, hosted by Mr. Willie Revillame which was aired during TV5's primetime block. In the said episode, also posted on YouTube at, a six-year-old boy named Jan-jan was shown dancing “ala-macho dancer," much to the delight of the host and the studio audience. As seen in the video, however, the boy was clearly distressed and humiliated by the said experience as evidenced by his crying while supposedly “entertaining” Mr. Revillame and his audience.

Children should be at school studying or playing at home. They should not be used as cheap sources of entertainment. The act of making children work is already unfortunate; however, the said act is even more deplorablewhen they lose their dignity and self respect in the process.

If TV shows that employ child actors are required to secure the necessary permits from the DSWD, are reality shows like Willing Willie required to do the same? Are representatives from the DSWD present to monitor these activities, especially for shows that air live?

We quote Article V, Section 9 of Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act:

“Obscene Publications and Indecent Shows. – Any person who shall hire, employ, use, persuade, induce or coerce a child to perform in obscene exhibitions and indecent shows, whether live or in video, or model in obscene publications or pornographic materials or to sell or distribute the said materials shall suffer the penalty of prison mayor in its medium period.

If the child used as a performer, subject or seller/distributor is below twelve (12) years of age, the penalty shall be imposed in its maximum period.

Any ascendant, guardian, or person entrusted in any capacity with the care of a child who shall cause and/or allow such child to be employed or to participate in an obscene play, scene, act, movie or show or in any other acts covered by this section shall suffer the penalty of prison mayor in its medium period.”

Clearly, what transpired during this episode of Willing Willie was a violation of this provision of the law.

We condemn the blatant act of subjecting poor Filipinos -- especially minors, a group that history has shown to be one of the most vulnerable sectors of our society -- to humiliation in shows like these in exchange for some quick cash. Given the financial hardships that they have to endure, they often feel forced to do acts that violate their dignity as human beings in exchange for keeping body and soul together.

We condemn the host, not only for failing to stop the boy, who was clearly uncomfortable with what he had to do, but more importantly for milking similar situations for the sake of selling the show and increasing its ratings.

We condemn the producers of the show and the management of TV5 not only for failing to act appropriately on this incident, but also for tolerating these kinds of shows, as well as the host's tasteless and humiliating antics.

We express disappointment towards the parents of the boy for subjecting their child to this horrible experience.

We express concern for the studio audience and others at home who found this incident amusing and entertaining.

We express disappointment towards all the advertisers of the show for failing to consider the content and the values of the shows in which they advertise.

We challenge our government agencies, particularly the DSWD and the MTRCB, to act promptly on this and other similar incidents, and to institute measures to protect young children when they appear on Willing Willie and similar shows.

In this regard, we would like to request the following actions from your office:

For Mr. Manny Pangilinan and the management of TV5 to immediately implement a temporary moratorium on the guesting of children on Willing Willie and similar shows;

For Mr. Willie Revillame and the producers of the show to issue a public apology to Jan-jan and all their other guests whom they have humiliated in the past, and to promise never to commit the same acts in their future episodes;

For the MTRCB to conduct an investigation and review of the said episode to determine the violations made by the host and the producers of the show of the standards and regulations set by law and the Board, and impose corresponding penalties on those found guilty;

For the DSWD and the CHR to conduct an investigation into the said incident to determine the violations of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, committed by the host, the producers and the management of TV5, and initiate legal action against those who will be found responsible;

For the DSWD and the MTRCB, in partnership with the TV networks in the country, to formulate regulations that will cover the appearance of children on game shows and other reality-TV themed shows, especially those that are aired live;

For the Committee on Youth, Women and Family Affairs of the Senate to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, to institute amendments to Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 to protect children from similar violations;

For the DSWD to provide counselling to Janjan and to all other children who participated on the show in the past for possible trauma and other physiological distress, as well as to their parents who consider subjecting their children to such experience as acceptable;

For the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to provide legal support to the victims of these abuses who may want to pursue legal action against those who will be found responsible by the relevant government agencies; and

For the Philippine Association of National Advertisers and AdBoard to forward this complaint to all their members, especially those who advertise on Willing Willie, and to request their members to temporarily cease placing ads on the show until the host, the producer and the management have complied with this request and instituted reforms to avoid a repeat of this incident in the future. Otherwise, we will be constrained to start a call to boycott the products of those who will refuse to heed this request.

We are expecting a prompt reply and action on your part. We will be continuously monitoring this issue and will continue to gather support from the general public through a Facebook page ( we have started, as well as the mainstream media.


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Original Sponsors of Willing Willie

P&G's Head & Shoulders,
UFC Cook & Dip Catsup,
Oishi Cookies,
Smart C Drinks,
Jollibee's Mang Inasal,
Unilever's Rexona,
Surf Liwuid Detergent,
Glutamax Face Cream,
Pau Liniment,
CDO Funtastyk Young Pork Tocino,
Will Tower Mall,
Daily Spell fragrance,
Wil Cologne,
Foton Automobile,
Manny Villar's Camella Homes,
Cebuana Lhuiller

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Mang Inasal (Jollibee Food Corporation)

Fit n' Right (Del Monte Philippines)

Proctor and Gamble, Distributing Pihilippines Inc.
Robert McDonald, CEO
Tel: (632) 894-3955 (MM)
1800-1-888-8008 (Outside MM, toll free)

Unilever Philippines
Fernando Fernandez, Chair
t: (632) 588-7400
f; (632) 588 7711

Cebuana Lhuillier
Jean Henri Lhuillier, CEO
T: (632) 895 1777, 8951619, 8951744, 8951222
F: (632) 5977814


Smart Communications Inc.,
Napoleon Navarro, President and CEO

Suyen Corporation, Makers of Bench Clothing Line
Ben Chan, CEO
Tel; (632) 777-7888
Fax; (632)844-8150

Liwayway Manufacturing Corporation, Makers of Oishi Foods
Carlson Chan, Vice Chairman
T: (632) 844 8441-52
F: (632) 815 8343 or 887 4399

Aldrtz Corporate Center
Ritchie Corpus, Founder and President
Tel/Fax: (034) 432 3270

Nutriasia Group
Mr. Joselito Campos, Chairman and CEO
(632) 636 0279

Others not listed, in need of contact information as the website does not provide:
Technomarine Asia
Cherry Mobile

UPDATED 12:09 April 3,

Cherry Mobile
Maynard Ngu, Ceo
(632) 512 9302, 5479015, 547 8593, 577 5490

Technomarine Asia (Singapore)

Foton Motor Philippines
Rommel Sutin, President
T: (632) 442 4076, 442 4077, 4424078

Medical Test System (Distributor of Glutamax)
T: (632) 892 1250, 893 1443, 813 0069
F: (632) 816 6350

Vista Residence Inc
Thrace Alcade, Business Development Head
T: (632) 298 5389

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Statement from the Department of Social Work and Development


DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman on the

Case of the Child “Jan-Jan” Shown in Willing Willie

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) condemns the emotional abuse and humiliation bestowed on a six-year-old child contestant, during the March 12, 2011 episode of the Willing Willie show aired on TV 5.

The sequence shows the boy gyrating in a distasteful manner with the audience, including the host (Willie Revillame), manifesting no evidence of concern or alarm for the child. This incident is clearly a violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act and a blatant manifestation of child abuse. The term “child abuse” includes the following acts: “psychological and physical abuse, neglect, cruelty, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment,” and “any act by deeds or words which debases, degrades or demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child as a human being.”

Putting pressure on children to do acts such as mimicking adult sexy dances, in exchange for a certain amount of money, and at the expense of being laughed at and ridiculed by hundreds of people, clearly traumatizes the child. This is a clear form of child abuse and will not be tolerated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The Department has already communicated to ABC Development Communication Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan asking that children should not be allowed to appear in TV shows like Willing Willie, especially those capitalizing on poverty as a source of immediate entertainment. In the formal communication with Mr. Pangilinan, the Department has also rebuked the insensitive actions and remarks of Mr. Revillame.

On a final note, the Department is also conducting its own investigation on the said incident and if warranted under the circumstances, legal action will be taken against the TV 5 management and other concerned parties in violation of RA 7610. The necessary counseling will also be awarded to the child and his parents, to prevent further trauma and abuse due to the media hype brought about by this saddening incident.

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Missing document.

Apology from TV5 and Mr. Revillame

Mr. Willie Revillame, the producers of "Willing Willie" and TV5 sincerely and deeply apologize for the segment of the show featuring 6-year-old Jan-Jan Suan which viewers may have found offensive or in bad taste. 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 most contestants on the show, Jan-Jan, accompanied by his aunt, joined the program to showcase his talent and play in a game segment in the hope of bringing home big prizes. He has performed in the past in school programs and mall contests, and his performance in "Willing Willie" was completely voluntary and with the blessings of his parents.

He 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. He did not want to smile because of his missing upper front teeth and because of the presence on the set of former basketball player Bonel Balingit who Jan-jan thought was a scary "giant".

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.

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March 29, 2011

Dear Mr. Grate,

Greetings from the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA)!

This is to acknowledge receipt of your email sent to the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) office yesterday March 28.

Please find below the email circulated to the representative of PANA member-companies, attaching your letter documenting “Child Abuse on Willing Willie show in TV5”.

We are sharing this information to our membership consistent with our mission statement which states that: PANA aims to be an association of advertisers providing leadership, guidance and support in the promotion of effective, truthful and responsible marketing communications, championing self-regulation, consumer protection, values formation and the advancement of the practice of marketing communications to global standards.

With this information, we trust that our members will be guided accordingly on the best decision to take.

Rest assured that the management of TV5 has also been contacted regarding our member advertisers’ concern on this

Respectfully yours

John V. Rojo

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Patuloy na umiibig sa Pilipinas, 
At naniniwala sa galing ng Pilipino,  

Froilan Grate | GreenMinds

Sunday, July 3, 2011

In the face of death

This incident happened four years ago, July 2, 2007.  I am re-posting this to remind myself, and again share with everyone, the lesson that I have learned from this experience. 


By Froilan Grate
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:25:00 08/18/2009

I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it was all happening. The fellow behind me told me to go up the stairs. When I reached the second floor, the other guy pulled out something from his pocket and pointed it at my face. A gun.

At that moment, I knew it was for real. I wasn’t scared at all. All I felt was anger and sadness. Anger because I knew I was not the most evil person in the planet, so what had I done to deserve this? Sad because I thought my life was going to end this way. What a pathetic way to die.

Strange how things could change so fast. I was just standing on a road, near West Avenue in Quezon City, waiting for the rain to stop so that I could walk to the main road and catch a ride home. It was before 10 in the evening. Then, out of nowhere, a man or a boy (he couldn’t have been more than 20 years old) approached me to ask for the time. When I turned to look at him, another man came up from behind, put his arm over my shoulder and told me to take it easy, while pressing the tip of something metallic to my side. They said that if I would just remain calm, no one would get hurt. They told me to just follow what they told me and then I could go.

They asked me to walk with them. We walked for about 20 minutes until we reached a residential area. We came upon an old, abandoned house, one of them entered and the one behind me ordered me to follow. On the second floor, the guy pulled out his gun and pointed it at my face. I saw his face transform from that of a boy to that of the devil.

Maybe I cried—I am not sure about it now. But if I did, there were definitely no tears, and it was not because of fear, it was in anger. If I did cry, I am not ashamed of it: a person who cries in the face of death is no coward.

I remember saying, “Kuya, pag usapan natin ’to, please.” I said it over and over again, until one of them shouted, “P—g ina mo, hubad! Tumahimik ka!”

For some reason, I just stood there and pleaded with them. The man with the gun grabbed my bag and ordered me again to remove all my clothes. When I didn’t move still, he pressed the gun against my forehead and asked if I wanted to die.

I stripped to my underwear, while asking for something that they must have thought stupid. “Kuya, pwede iwan mo ’yung notebook?”

He threw it on the floor.

As soon as they got my shoes, my clothes and my bag, they walked out of the house as if nothing had happened. I was in shock and almost naked, so they expected me to hide in there and cry.

They were wrong. As they walked away, I did the most stupid thing anyone could think of. I jumped out of the window, barefoot but unaware that I was stepping on broken glass, and ran after them, all the while shouting and asking for help.

I caught up with them as they were about to exit the gate. When the guy with the gun saw me, he pointed it at me. I ducked behind a fence and hid.

They started running again, and I went after them. So there we were running on the street: one guy with all my stuff, the other with a gun, and me almost naked.

There were people around. Jeepneys, cars and tricycles passed us by. I stood in the middle of the street asking for help, but nobody stopped. So I kept running after them alone.

The guy with the gun stopped a tricycle and went off, so I went after the guy with my stuff. Suddenly, a man on motorcycle stopped beside me and told me to get on his bike. I did as he told me. He asked me what happened. I told him where the other guy went, and we went in the direction he took.

Unfortunately, the guy had entered a dark and narrow alley and my “knight” felt it would be too dangerous to pursue him.

He drove away fast. I asked him where we were going, but he did not answer. “Not again!” I thought.

Before I realized it, we were in front of a police station. Still naked, I entered the station and told the policemen on duty what had happened. They said we should go back, but the funny thing was that they were in no hurry to do so. No one bothered to offer me anything to cover myself with.

We went back to the place, with me still naked. The policemen asked around, but nobody wanted to say anything. No one saw anything. I pointed to the alley where the guy had made his escape. The policemen refused to go there, and I understood: There were just two of them, it was dark, and they didn’t even have a flashlight.

On our way back to the station, I asked them if we could pass by the old house so I could pick up my notebook. I went inside the house, alone and naked still, to get it.

Back in the police car (a multi-cab) when all the excitement was gone, I noticed a pool of blood on the floor. Only then did I realize that my feet were bleeding. (I would find out later that I had wounds in 14 different places, with the deepest wound taking about a month to heal.)

At the police station, I was interviewed so they could put the incident in the blotter. When the investigator learned that I had lost three phones (one was issued by the office) and P50,000 in cash and other valuables, he almost called me stupid, as if it was all my fault. The station commander told the investigator to hurry up, without bothering to hide his irritation.
I told them I could remember their faces, and could they perhaps ask someone to make sketches, like what we see the investigators do on “CSI”? For that, they said, I would have to go to Camp Karingal—on my own.

With the interview done, I was told to go home. I said I had no money left and I was naked and bleeding. It didn’t occur to them to bring me home or to a hospital. They said I could call home. I told them I was living alone. The station commander said, “E paano ’yan, mamamatay ka na lang pala niyan?”

I asked if I could borrow a cell phone. The commander said his phone had no load. When I asked if I could use their office phone, I was told somebody was using it.
After a long wait, I was finally able to call our office. Thankfully, one of our staff answered so I asked her to text my friends and tell them to pick me up.

While I was waiting for my friends, the guy in the motorcycle came back with a clean pair of shorts. I was touched by his kindness. He could have gone home and slept, but he came back to bring me something to cover myself with. When I asked who he was, he said his name was Chris. Then he said goodbye and went home.

A little later, two of my friends arrived and brought me home. They kept me company until I told them to go and get some rest.

I tried to sleep but couldn’t. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see the faces of the robbers and feel the gun on my face. Every time I heard some movement, I would think it was they. They had my ID, and my address, and they could have come after me. I stayed awake, until I was beside someone I love and trust. And only then did I cry.

All this happened two years ago. And it is only now that I am able to gather the strength to write about it.

Despite all the evil around us, I reaffirm my faith in the goodness of the human heart.

(Froilan Grate, 26, is chair of Add Up! Volunteers, a group of young individuals who have bonded together to do their share in nation building.)

Reposted from

Patuloy na umiibig sa Pilipinas, 
At naniniwala sa galing ng Pilipino,  

Froilan Grate | GreenMinds
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