For over a decade now, noontime TV shows have captivated the Filipino public, colloquially known as“the masa”. These shows run for 2 hours a day, 6 days a week, usually from around 2 to 4 o clock pm. Their immense popularity is shown by the long lines of people that wait outside the studio hours before the program starts. All of them, hoping to get a chance to participate in the festivities which include playing games, singing, and dancing. Millions more watch through their television. All this translates into high TV ratings, eventually generating billions in revenue for the producers and executives. The host himself earns around 1 to 2 million pesos everyday.
The audience mostly consists of people from the D and E demographics. Butch Stuart in his article “Mr Willie” describes them as “those who come from near or far away, many with borrowed transportation money, coming from all walks of masa life. Some of the groups that he mentioned were featured in these shows include: farmers, fishermen, GROs, bus drivers, people with missing teeth, people with special talents, single mothers, gay, graduates who failed their licensing exams, girls who can dance, boys who can sing, bibingka vendors, and, even, young girls with great looking legs.” Overseas Filipino Workers are also given special mention in the show. Those present in the audience see it as a welcome home celebration, or a way to re-immerse themselves in the Filipino culture.
A euphoric upbeat atmosphere underpins the event. Mr Stuart describes it as “120 minutes of mindless choreographed entertainment – games, dancing, singing and laughter with ample opportunities for ogling”. These events don’t require any complex thinking from the participants. They were designed to be visceral and to conjure a response of raw emotion. Girls in scantily clad outfits are the ones who facilitate the celebration. They serve two purposes in the event. Firstly to captivate and attract through their revealing outfits. But they also carry out logistical tasks like accompanying audience members to the stage and dancing the tunes for everyone to mimic.
The host ensures that all elements of the show are put together. To keep everything lively, his dialogue must always be fast paced. At times he gives off the impression of a cheerleader – always rousing the audience into states of excitement. He will always crack jokes left and right, and will never miss any opportunity even it means making fun of himself. For the show to be successful, the host must understand the sensibilities of the majority lower class audience. The interactive environment can only exist if he can connect with the “masa’s” humor. In Philippine society, no one has been more successful in doing this than Willie Revillame. A household name in television, he has amassed a massive amount of wealth from his noon time shows Wowowee in ABS CBN and later on, Willing willie on TV 5.
Noon time shows rely on the D and E classes as their target audience. When criticism is mounted against these shows, producers are quick to respond that these journalists do not understand the plight of the poor. Some argue that these shows give the poor false hope. They line up for months waiting to be called on stage. Waiting to tell their life story. Waiting to play for a million pesos with house and lot. But the reality is that most of those who line up for the show never even make it to the studio.
We would like to find out why Filipinos from the class D end E brackets are captivated with these noon time shows. It is the poor’s endorsement that sustains them. Companies who want to reach out to this consumer market donate lump sums of money for their products to be advertised on air. They know that the millions of impoverished families watching these shows will see their products. But the poor do more than just endorse. Often they peg their aspirations and dreams to the show itself....