We Listened to Local Radio and Weren't Surprised to Find That Sexism is Alive and Well in PH Media
Umagang Kay Ganda host Anthony Taberna recently issued a public apology after he previously blamed a young woman on live television for becoming a victim of rape. In the February 19 episode of the morning show, Taberna reported on a 19-year-old woman who was raped by a group of men after she met one of them on social media. Funnily enough, the host pointed fingers, not at the criminals but at the victim herself, believing that if she had not gone out with the guy for drinks, the crime wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Later, in his television apology, he would go on to say that it was not his intention to blame the victim for the traumatizing event.
While an apology from the host was due, it hardly resolves the bigger, underlying issue at hand: that in 2018, we still subscribe to a backward and toxic notion of masculinity. The hard truth is that Taberna is far from the only media personality, let alone the only man, who confidently espouses these primitive beliefs and professes them to a large audience. However, there seems to be one medium in particular where sexist comments are all in a day’s work. We tuned in to local radio shows and heard just some of the most awful sexist comments on the air.
If these broadcasters are any indication, we've got a long way to go to undo and unlearn some deeply entrenched sexist viewpoints that Filipinos still subscribe to. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it’s clear that the Philippines has a lot of catching up to do.
This gross exchange on Freddie Aguilar’s and Chris Librojo’s radio show
—Pusong Pinoy, DWIZ 882 AM, February 25, 10 pm to 12 am
On the Sunday midnight show Pusong Pinoy, hosted by Freddie Aguilar and Chris Librojo, the duo cracked yet another tasteless “boys will be boys” joke with a double entendre that involved rankings and mistresses. Chris Librojo announced that their show had the highest rating in a survey, declaring, “Ayon sa survey, eto hindi fake news ha… number one si Ka Freddie.” The musician responded by saying, “Lagi ko iniisip na number two tayo, papunta pa lang number one. Para lalo tayong magsisipag. ‘Pag nilagay mo sa utak mong number one ka, ‘e baka ‘di ka na magsikap. ‘E wala nang mas mataas sa number one. Mas maganda na kunwari number two lang tayo.”
Librojo interjects as he makes a mistress joke, cracking, “O, naintindihan ko na pala, Ka Freddie. Kaya pala yung mga number two, mapursige.”
Ka Freddie responds with, “They try hard. Lalo na kung may number three. Mas malayo yung habulan. Kaya lang, ingatan mong wag maglagay ng CCTV, baka mabuko. Magulo yan, sakit sa ulo ‘yan.”
The hosts then tease their guest about having a “number four” and “number five,” as one of them cracks, “Yung iba nga, hanggang 22 e. Oops! Politiko na ‘yun. Sila lang naman yung madaling maglabas ng pera, e. Kinukuha lang kasi nila yun e.”
The gag ends as they tease about politicians purchasing beauty queens, as they are left with the “runner-up lang.”
“Ang lalaki, nangangaliwa dahil sa pisikal na aspeto, hindi sa emosyon. ‘Di katulad ng babae kasi, ‘pag nangaliwa ang babae, kasama ang emosyon. Naiinlove na rin sila doon sa lalaki… ‘pag may nangyayari kahit kissing lang, o sexual na bagay, na-iinlove na sila doon.”
—The Love Idol, Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM, February 24, 2 to 4 pm
Stereotypes about gender roles are often reinforced in local call-in shows about dating and relationships, and the show The Love Idol on Radyo Singko is no exception. Host Ariel Villasanta doles out advice for a man whose wife left him for another man… after he cheated on her first. The inconsolable husband reasoned that he and his wife share a child, and it was unfair that he chose to end the affair for the sake of his family, while his wife was with a new lover.
Villasanta normalized the man’s affair by justifying that most men chose to cheat on their partners for purely physical reasons, like “minsan [nagsawa] ka na sa misis mo,” or “syempre ‘pag may anak na iba na [ang] hitsura” —because naturally, women bear the inexplicable pressure of being expected to carry a child, while maintaining a physique unchanged by pregnancy.
The host also emphasized that women were wired differently, that their reasons for cheating were different than those of men, while also painting them as emotionally fragile, easily falling in love after being kissed.
The host concluded that because most men cheat purely out of lust, it was easy for the husband to end the affair and return to his family, while it would be harder to expect his wife to do the same as she had most likely fallen for her new lover. His advice? To just relax: “‘Pag niloko sya nun, yun ang pagkakataon na pwede siyang bumalik sa’yo.”
“Ang babae, ‘pag nasasaktan, dapat wala munang mga shoulder to cry on yan, delikado ‘yun. Dapat kung makikipagusap ka ng problema, doon lang sa friends nyo na babae, o kaya kapatid mo, pinsan mo. Pero ‘pag may mga lalaking umiinom e shumo-shoulder to cry on, delikado yan.” —also —The Love Idol, Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM, February 24, 2 to 4 pm
Still referring to his caller’s problem, Ariel Villasanta warned women who were being cheated on not to look for “a shoulder to cry on” if they wanted to save their relationships with their erring partners. In fact, he even listed certain people women should cry to for help, such as their girlfriends, their siblings, and cousins. (Never mind the fact that women can maintain platonic friendships with men.)
“Natatakot ka o baka gusto mo lang?” asks Raffy Tulfo about a woman’s sexual assault
—Wanted sa Radyo, Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM, February 26, 2 to 4 pm
As if exploiting people’s problems on-air wasn’t problematic enough, Raffy Tulfo’s radio program Wanted sa Radyo took an even more repulsive turn after shaming a woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by her son-in-law.
The daughter came in as a complainant on the program, suspecting her mother and her husband of having an affair. Tulfo first called the husband at his place of work and subsequently contacted the mother. After the husband admitted to sleeping with his mother-in-law, the mother revealed that she was coerced by her son-in-law to have sexual relations with him, threatening to hurt her, his wife, and their children. The woman, tearing up, shared, “Sir hindi naman ako malanding babae… nangyari lang po dahil sa takot ko.”
Tulfo responded with, “Ayun, may pag-amin na rin. Bakit, tinatakot ka ba ni Eman na makipag-sex sa kanya or else may mangyari sa’yo?” After the woman confirmed this, the commentator retorted, “So kung tinatakot ka na may mangyayari sa’yo pag di ka nakipag-sex sa kanya, bakit di ka nagsumbong sa pulis? ‘Di ka nagsumbong sa amin? Hindi mo sinabi kay misis para [lumapit siya] sa amin para gagawa kami ng paraan para mabigyang solusyon ang iyong kinakatakutan problema? Hindi po ba?”
After the mother shared that she feared for her and her family's safety, Tulfo questioned her once more, saying, “Natatakot ka o baka gusto mo lang?” Tulfo's line of questioning reflects exactly the reason why most sexual assault survivors remain quiet about the assault. Aside from having to relive the trauma by recounting it, the fear of being doubted by other people adds to the shame and helplessness victims often feel after the abuse occurs. Of course, it doesn’t help that she was painted on-air as a promiscuous, good-for-nothing mother.
“Kung talagang inabot ka ng kamanyakan, doon kayo sa ibang barangay.”
—Wanted sa Radyo, Radyo Singko 92.3 News FM, February 28, 2 to 4 pm
In the February 28 episode of Wanted sa Radyo, a married woman went on air to complain about her neighbor, a police officer, who had been harassing her through phone calls, and at one point, tried to embrace her outside her home. Tulfo contacted the police officer in question, who was married himself, and gave him some rather disturbing advice:
“Ang dami-dami pong babae, kung gusto mo lang manligaw, ‘wag naman sa may asawa.” the broadcaster admonished the officer. “Kung talaga pong inaabot ka ng kalibugan at kamanyakan, meron ngang kasabihan, ‘Don’t shit in your backyard.’ ‘Wag ho kayo magkalat sa mismong bakuran n’yo, which is sa barangay n’yo. Kung gusto ninyong magwala, doon kayo sa ibang barangay.”
Not only does this normalize infidelity as an inevitable part of machismo, but note also that married women are off-bounds—not because of their lack of consent, but because marriage has left her bound to another man: Their No is never taken seriously until another man is involved.
It’s the same mentality that enables men to constantly harass women even after they say no, and only back off when they mention having a boyfriend or a husband. Never mind the fact that the policeman himself admitted to having a family that he would be hurting with his indiscretions. As the great newscaster advised, go on carry on an affair—just don’t do it next door.