Jan-Jan is the 6 year old boy who was dancing and crying in Willie Revillame’s show. This is a letter written by my good friend, Cathy Guballa . I have posted it here with her permission.
My heart broke as I watched you cry on television. You should never have been there in the first place. There are many people to blame for the humiliation that you went through. What took place should have never happened if people had been doing their jobs, if people had only known better.
First of all, I cannot understand how your tita would teach you to dance that way!! You are only six years old and what do you know about the world? I’m sure you are a very bright, sensitive, and talented little boy, that much I could see. That’s another reason why it was so painful for me to watch you suffer. You were, in fact, the only one in that studio who knew that what was happening was so very wrong. You rely on your parents and your guardians to take care of you. They need to ensure that you grow up to become healthy in mind, body and spirit. But by allowing you to suffer that way, they miserably failed you.
It’s not all about the money, Jan-jan. The dignity of every child must be upheld. By allowing you to perform that way, they trampled on you and made you feel so small. I could see the fear and embarrassment in your eyes. It was undeniable. If there was only some way to rescue you from that moment, I’m sure every parent worth their salt would have done so.
Poverty must never be an excuse to humiliate people. A child must be allowed to be a child. This terrible experience has probably left a mark on your soul and my prayer is that you will not be damaged by it forever. And this is why this insanity has to stop.
I have no explanation for the way that the crowd treated you that evening. I feel very sad at what we have become as a people. That these adults would actually find it entertaining to see a young boy like you shamed that way. That these so-called adults did not see beyond the lewd gyrations to see the little boy with warm tears running down his face. It pains me that we have become so desensitized as a people, that we would allow a child to suffer that way.
But for me, the biggest fault that evening falls on Willie Revillame’s shoulders. I have no explanation for what possessed him to egg on the crowd, to say those words to you, to liken you to a burlesk dancer. Willie had the power in that moment to stop, no, to prevent you from even performing your dance number. Had he done so, he may have even redeemed himself in a way. But what did he do? He gave you the money that you perhaps came for so that you could give it to your parents who for the life of me perhaps did not know any better than to send you there. And he egged you on…
Willie, a parent many times over, and a grandfather – did he not see the faces of his children or of his grandson when he was egging you on to dance a second or a third time? That he found enjoyment in watching you, and poking fun at you as you cried and looked so miserable was to my mind inexcusable. You are a child, and you are supposed to be loved and protected. Your right to protection is provided for under the law. I am so sorry that we failed to do this for you.
The image of your face has been running through my head over the last couple of days. What happened to you that day must not go to waste. If we can save even one other child from having to go through what you had to endure then all these efforts we are now doing will not be in vain.
We can no longer turn back the hands of time and take away your pain, Jan-jan, but we can always give a deeper meaning to the humiliation you went through it by working together, hand in hand, to ensure that no other child, or minor, for that matter will ever have to suffer the way you did on national television.
I hope someday when you recall this moment, it will no longer bring you shame. Your tears will not go to waste. In doing what you did, before millions of people in and out of the studio, you woke us all up and in the process, perhaps saved so many other children from ever having to go through what you did. You are a brave little boy Jan-jan, always remember that.
Cathy S. Babao Guballa
March 27, 2011
Here is Tagalog translation:
Isinalin sa Pilipino ni Rofel G. Brion
Mahal kong Jan-jan,
Kumirot ang puso ko nang mapanood kitang umiiyak sa telebisyon. Unang-una’y wala ka dapat doon. Maraming taong dapat sisihin sa kahihiyang dinanas mo. Hindi sana nangyari iyon kung ginagawa nila ang dapat nilang gawin. Kung nag-isip sila.
Unang-una, hindi ko maunawaan kung bakit ka tinuruan ng tita mo na magsayaw nang ganoon! Anim na taon ka pa lamang; ano ang alam mo tungkol sa mundo? Tiyak kong matalino, sensitibo, at magaling kang bata; kitang-kita ko ito. At ito ang isa pang dahilang kung bakit napakasakit para sa akin ang panoorin kang nagdurusa. Sa totoo’y ikaw lamang sa buong studio na iyon ang nakamalay na maling-mali ang nangyayari noon. Umaasa kang aalagaan ka ng mga magulang mo’t patnubay. Kailangang tiyakin nila sa iyo na lalaki kang malusog ang pangangatawan, isip at diwa. Ngunit nang hayaan nilang magdusa ka nang ganoon, lubos ka nilang binigo.
Hindi lahat ay nasasagot ng pera, Jan-jan. Dapat itaguyod ang dignidad ng bawat bata. Nang hayaan ka nilang sumayaw nang ganoon, tinapak-tapakan ka nila at labis na minaliit. Nakita ang ko ang takot at hiya sa iyong mga mata. Hindi maitatanggi iyon. Kung kung may paraan lamang sanang masagip ka noon, tiyak kong gagawin iyon ng bawat tunay at tapat na magulang.
Kailanma’y hindi dapat gamiting dahilan ang pagdaralita para hiyain ang sinuman. Kailangang hayaang maging bata ang bata. Malamang na nag-iwan ang malungkot na karanasang ito ng lamat sa iyong kaluluwa, at dalangin kong hindi ka sirain nito magpakailanman. Kaya nga kailangan ang itigil ang kahibangang ito.
Wala akong paliwanag sa pagtrato sa iyo ng mga nanonood noong gabing iyon. Lungkot na lungkot ako na nagkaganito na ang ating sambayanan. Na ang mga taong may sapat na gulang ay matuwa at maaliw samantalang hinihiya ang munting batang tulad mo. Na hindi nakita ng mga naturingang may sapat na gulang na sa kabila ng malaswang paggiling ay may munting batang tumutulo ang luha. Nasasaktan ako na ang ating sambayanan ay nawalan na ng pandama at hinahayaang magdusa nang ganoon ang isang bata.
Ngunit para sa akin, ang pinakamabigat na sisi ay dapat ipataw kay Willie Revillame. Hindi ko maipaliwanag kung bakit niya binuyo pa ang mga manonood, kung bakit siya nagsalita nang ganoon, kung bakit ka niya itinulad sa isang nagbuburles. May kapangyarihan si Willie na patigilin ang lahat noon, na pigilan kang magpalabas ng iyong sayaw.
Kung ginawa niya iyon, kahit paano sana’y nasagip niya ang kanyang sarili. Ngunit ano ang ginawa niya? Binigyan ka niya ng pera, na siya marahil dahilan kung bakit ka naroon, para maibigay mo ito sa mga magulang mo na matay kong mang isipin ay hindi ko maunawaan kung bakit ka pinapunta doon. At binuyo ka pa niya…
Si Willie, na ilang ulit nang naging ama, at lolo pa—hindi ba niya nakita ang mga mukha ng kanyang anak at apo nang binubuyo ka niyang magsayaw muli at muli? Walang kapatawaran ang kasiyahan niya samantalang pinanonood ka, at pinagtatawanan samantalang umiiyak ka’t nagdurusa. Bata ka; dapat ay mahalin ka at pangalagaan. Ang karapatan mong mapangalagaan ay atas ng batas. Lubos kong ikinalulungkot na hindi ka namin napangalagaan.
Paulit-ulit na lumilitaw sa isipan ko ang larawan ng iyong mukha nitong mga nakaraang araw. Hindi dapat mawalan ng silbi ang nangyari sa iyo noon. Kung maililigtas namin ang kahit isa lamang bata mula sa ganoong pagdurusa, magkakaroon ng bunga ang ginagawa namin ngayon.
Hindi na natin maibabalik ang panahon at mapapawi ang sakit na nadama mo, Jan-jan, ngunit mabibigyan namin ng mas malalim na kahulugan ang kahihiyang dinanas mo sa pamamagitan ng sama-samang pagkilos, pagkakapit-bisig, upang matiyak na wala nang ibang bata, wala nang ibang mura ang gulang, ang kailanma’y magdurusa nang tulad mo sa harap ng mga manonood ng telebisyon sa buong bansa.
Inaasahan kong darating ang panahon na kapag nagunita mo ang nangyaring ito sa iyo ay hindi ka na mahihiya. Na mamalayan mong hindi naaksaya ang iyong mga luha. Nang gawin mo ang ginawa mo, sa harap ng milyun-milyong tao sa loob at labas ng studio, ginising mo kaming lahat, at sa gayo’y marahil ay nasagip ang marami pang ibang bata mula sa kahihiyang naranasan mo. Matapang kang bata, Jan-jan, lagi mong tandaan ito.
Cathy S. Babao Guballa
March 27, 2011
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