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‘Big Brother’ and China

Perhaps its falling ratings are pushing producers of the show “Pinoy Big Brother All-in” to resort to ever more desperate “gimmicks.” As a result, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) is raising a howl over a recent episode of the show in which, it says, “a female contestant was compelled to pose nude for a painting.”

The commission is calling on the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board to look into the episode and take the necessary action.

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Last June 4, “Big Brother,” also known as “Kuya,” the all-knowing, all-seeing disembodied voice presiding over the lives of the contestants confined in Big Brother’s house, challenged Jayme Jalandoni, 23, to pose nude for a painting, as part of her weekly task.

Designed to test the contestants’ determination and will, the challenges provide them with only three “no” options or refusals. Once these options are exhausted, Kuya will automatically cut the housemates’ budget for the following week (thus earning the contestant the ire of her companions).

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When Kuya first proposed the “task” to Jalandoni, she refused, but he kept up the pressure. Explaining that he knew of a good painter (“isang magaling na artist”) who had helped “many” other people mainly by teaching them painting for free, Kuya said he wanted to help the painter with his “advocacy.” He then asked Jalandoni if she wanted to pose as a model for a painting, and that so she could have an idea of what was involved, suggested that she disrobe. To which Jalandoni replied: “Kuya,  ayoko  maghubad  (I don’t want to pose nude).”

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I wasn’t able to watch this episode (I don’t watch “Big Brother” as a rule), but the PCW asserts that the voice of authority on the show was “evidently suggestive,” placing the contestant under pressure.

“Jalandoni’s initial reactions flashed fear and refusal as evidenced by her crying ‘Kuya!’” the PCW statement says, but Kuya was insistent, “even citing the artistic merit of [the] painter.” In the end, Jalandoni gave in to the “task,” but the PCW says the episode “violates [Jalandoni’s] right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief.” As well, says the commission, it proved “the broadcast media’s coldhearted perpetuation of exploitation of women on national TV. No individual, television show or entity has the right to cause discrimination, insecurity, discomfort, offense or humiliation to any woman.”

I happen to think, and the PCW agrees with me, that there is nothing wrong with women (or men) posing nude for an artist. But nude models do so out of their free choice, usually for a fee, and are treated respectfully by the artist. Coercing a young woman (on TV!) to pose nude, and thereby violating her own personal code of behavior and ethics, smacks of exploitation and abuse.

Indeed, the PCW reminds broadcast entities that Section 19 of the Magna Carta of Women states that “media organizations shall not induce, encourage and/or condone violence against women in any form and/or the violation of their human rights.”

Perhaps it’s time “Big Brother” and its broadcaster ABS-CBN, which has a woman for a president, rethought its exploitative strategy in the show, which, I understand, has degenerated into a “soft porn” production in its other versions abroad.

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The “Big Brother” episode might also be of interest to our women legislators, including Senators Pia Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, and Nancy Binay, as well as women members of the House of Representatives.

The treatment of the young woman on “Big Brother” is such a contrast to the status and accomplishments racked up by our women legislators. As an example, a delegation of congresswomen, led by Pangasinan Rep. Gina de Venecia who heads the association of women legislators in the House, visited China recently upon the invitation of the women’s wing of the Communist Party.

During their 10-day visit, the congresswomen visited the cities of Chongqing and Beijing as well as the province of Shandong where they held exchanges with the women sitting on the People’s Congress of their areas.

In a privilege speech, De Venecia said the delegation was the first and only group from the Philippine government to visit China after the filing by our government of an arbitration case in the UN concerning the two countries’ conflicting claims on certain islands in the West Philippine Sea.

The discussions with Chinese officials, said the participants, “turned out to be occasions for both parties to understand each other, enough to take the all-important first step in rebuilding bilateral ties as brother nations.”

At the end of the talks, the Philippine and Chinese officials agreed to “continue people-to-people dialogues and work for the improvement of the bilateral ties between the two countries.”

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“Arbitrationis not the only option,” De Venecia stressed in her talks while in China. She called for the resumption of bilateral talks with China regarding the settlement of the disputed territories and restoration of the “good neighbor policy” in our part of the world.

De Venecia further proposed the creation of a Philippine-China Council “composed of eminent persons, peacemakers, economic experts, representatives from the academe, historians, geopolitical experts, civil society leaders who will meet with counterparts in China.” The Council, she proposed, could address “the problem in the West Philippine Sea and strengthen bilateral ties and areas of common concern and mutual benefit in trade, tourism, education, cultural exchange, security, labor and education, women and youth development, and mutual cooperation in the battle against climate change.”

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TAGS: analogy, China, Jayme Jalandoni, MTRCB, Philippines, Pinoy Big Brother, territorial row, TV
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