Why Vice Ganda still deserves FDCP tribute: ‘Showtime’ flak ‘an overreaction’


Cruz (third from left) with Jason Dy, Robi Domingo, CJ Navato and Marlo Mortel —PHOTOS BY MARINEL CRUZ

This award is just icing on his cake,” quipped director Jose Javier Reyes, who also announced that the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) would not be retracting the award it would give controversial comedian Vice Ganda, who is currently under fire for an incident that aired on the noontime program “It’s Showtime” in July.

Reyes also serves as a technical consultant of the FDCP, with actor Tirso Cruz III as chair. On the July 25 episode of “It’s Showtime,” under its segment “Isip Bata,” Vice and his romantic partner Ion Perez were shown licking the frosting from a cake off their fingers.

According to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), the segment drew multiple complaints from viewers, prompting the board to suspend the show for 12 days. Incidentally, a group that identifies itself as the Kapisanan ng Social Media Broadcasters ng Pilipinas filed a criminal case for violation of the cybercrime law before the Quezon City Prosecutors Office against the couple.

Jose Javier Reyes

Jose Javier Reyes

“In my opinion, this is an overreaction because there are worse things that have been done on television that can be more criminal in context than eating icing with their fingers. It’s a sign of the times—the effect of social media in shaping people’s opinion. Sometimes, things get blown out of proportion,” said Reyes, shortly after the two-hour program organized by the FDCP as part of its monthlong celebration of the 2023 Philippine Film Industry Month (PFIM) at Teatrino Promenade in Greenhills.

“It’s a bandwagon mentality,” Reyes said when asked to react to the fact that already quite a number of personalities, including legislators, are commenting on the issue. “I hope, eventually, reason will win out. I don’t exactly approve of what they did, but not to the point of calling it a criminal act—it may be mischievous or out of context. It’s so sad that so many people are being involved in it. In a way, it is unfair to Vice and his partner, but at the same time, it shows the kind of society that we are becoming, and the dangers of social media.”

Paying tribute to comedy

FDCP chair Tirso Cruz III

FDCP chair Tirso Cruz III

This year, the FDCP will be paying tribute to comedy and to iconic Filipino comedians, led by the late Dolphy, in an awards ceremony on Sept. 29. Aside from Vice, the following artists will be honored: TVJ (Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon), Michael V, Ai-Ai delas Alas and Eugene Domingo.

“I really hope that Vice would be able to attend, although it’s understandable if he says he would be laying low. We’re not going to retract the honor we think he deserves. Whatever the accusation against him has nothing to do with his past achievements. For years, he has been the face of Philippine comedy, and there is no way you can erase that,” declared Reyes.

Meanwhile, Domingo, who is now based in Italy, and Delas Alas, who is currently vacationing in the United States, will just be sending video messages, reported Reyes. “Bitoy (Michael V’s nickname) has confirmed attendance, and so has TVJ,” he added.

This year’s edition of the PFIM carries the theme “Tuloy Pa Rin ang Tawanan.” The program on Saturday, hosted by Robi Domingo, featured live performances from Marlo Mortel, CJ Navato, Jason Dy, Katrina Velarde, Frenchie Dy and Bituin Escalante.

Spotted at the Gala Night was comedian Vhong Navarro, who said that the comedy movies that made a mark on him were “Starzan,” featuring Joey de Leon and the late Rene Requiestas, and “Black Magic,” starring Dolphy.

Victor Villanueva, director of the critically acclaimed “Patay Na si Hesus,” said he was pleased that “comedy is the focus of the celebration because it’s often overlooked. Comedy has always been a mainstay, but people don’t take it seriously as a genre. They say, ‘You won’t get into festivals with that!’ But the effect of comedy on people—it makes them smile, makes them happy—is precious. Comedy-filmmaking people, let’s unite!”

The impact

Actress-filmmaker Laurice Guillen said that while her late husband Johnny Delgado cannot really be labeled as a just comedian, she is aware of the impact of the sketch comedy show “Goin’ Bananas,” which Delgado was a cast member, to its audience in the ’80s.

“It’s the thing that Filipinos have—they can laugh even when they’re troubled. That’s one of the traits of Filipinos that help them in their survival. They are capable of laughing their problems away. This is why the performances, movies and shows of our comedians really help, and this is why we remember them,” Guillen pointed out. “In ‘Bananas,’ Johnny had comedic timing, although he was also good in action and drama.” INQ

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