MTRCB boooed, cheered in 2004
Updated 10:02pm (Mla time) Jan 02, 2005
By Marinel Cruz
Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on page A24 of the January 3, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
THE MOVIE and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) was at the receiving end of a mix of boos and cheers this year.
At least two groups-the Women's Secretariat of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, and Pinoy Pride-accused the censors body of "ignorance and lack of objectivity," when it scolded two show-biz talk shows for airing the "wedding" of a lesbian couple last May.
The censors warned "The Buzz" on ABS-CBN and "S-Files" on GMA 7 when they featured the wedding of Elaine Crisostomo, former partner of young actress Desiree del Valle, to a new lover, Ava Mendoza, last May 16.
An MTRCB memorandum, signed by Chair Marissa Laguardia, had described lesbian relationships as "an abnormality of human nature."
But the very same gay groups commended Laguardia when she apologized for the "strongly worded" memo. Laguardia said she only wanted talk shows "to be more sensitive to impressionable young minds, as well as to present issues more sensitively."
Laguardia even sponsored an open forum with Pinoy Pride, headed by Ana Leah Sarabia, at the MTRCB office, according to the MTRCB chair's secretary Cynthia Pilar.
Last October, the MTCB chided Regine Velasquez, host of "Pinoy Pop Superstar" on GMA 7, and Zsa Zsa Padilla of "Born Diva" on ABS-CBN for wearing "too revealing" outfits on their shows.
While several personalities lashed out at the MTRCB, the warning had a noticeable effect on Regine and Zsa Zsa's wardrobe. The two hosts started wearing gowns that showed decidedly less cleavage than what they used to wear.
2 Joeys suspended
TV hosts Joey de Leon ("Eat Bulaga!") and Joey Marquez ("S-Files") were suspended-De Leon for two months and Marquez for two episodes-after the censors caught them using "vulgar words" on their shows.
De Leon's suspension, imposed by "Eat Bulaga" producers Television Production Exponents Inc. (Tape), started Aug. 11.
Marquez was not allowed to appear in the Aug. 29 and Sept. 5 editions of the "S-Files ," according to a memo from the show's program manager, Redgie Magno.
But last September, the MTRCB allowed De Leon to come back to "Eat Bulaga!" after only one month and one week of the two-month suspension. "I think, this time, [De Leon] has really learned his lesson and would do away with saying green jokes on television," Laguardia said.
TV word war
Even evangelist Eliseo "Brother Ely" Soriano's TV program, "Ang Dating Daan," did not escape the MTRCB. Laguardia announced the show's three-month suspension last September.
The MTRCB pointed out that Soriano used cuss words in his show whenever he went about his usual tirade against the Iglesia ni Cristo.
Soriano's group Ang Dating Daan and the Iglesia ni Cristo have long been engaged in a word war on TV.
Last March, ABS-CBN suspended Viva Hot Babe Asia Agcaoili for 20 days following an MTRCB complaint after one of Asia's breasts was exposed during an opening dance number on the noontime show "MTB: Ang Saya Saya."
"Extra Challenge" co-host Ethel Booba was also suspended for one episode last Dec. 8 for wearing "inappropriate outfits" on the show.
Laguardia said Asia and Ethel were "very apologetic" about breaking MTRCB rules and had promised her that no more violations would be committed.
Soriano, however, contested his show's three-month suspension before the Supreme Court. He said the censors body violated his constitutional rights to free religion, speech and expression.
TV host Willie Revillame was kicked out of the noontime show "Masayang Tanghali Bayan" on ABS-CBN in January. The network's decision to terminate Revillame's talent contract was prompted by an MTRCB complaint about his double-meaning jokes.
It was Revillame's third time to be punished for vulgar behavior.
Aside from "MTB," shows like "Diretsahan" on ABC 5, "Game KNB?" on ABS-CBN and the now-defunct "Victim" also on ABS-CBN were among the programs that received warnings from the MTRCB for violating the parental guidance classification on TV.
Can't please everyone
Laguardia became the subject of a complaint herself. In July, MTRCB board member Msgr. Nico Bautista had called for her immediate replacement for "graft and corruption, immorality and misuse of funds."
Bautista and another board member, Benjamin Bernales, accused Laguardia of illegal disbursement of funds. Laguardia called their allegations "malicious and baseless."
In October, Malacaņang announced that it had formally accepted Laguardia's resignation as MTRCB chair. The next day, Malacaņang backtracked on its announcement, saying the letter telling Laguardia of President Macapagal-Arroyo's acceptance of the resignation she had submitted earlier was unauthorized.
The MTRCB chair has this to say: "You can't please everyone, no matter what you do. It's really a thankless job. I try to maintain moderation in all the things I decide on. I try not to be too liberal or too conservative, but to strike a balance between the two."