The morality of Sen. Bong Revilla

bongBy Patricia Evangelista
ACTOR Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. – Star of “Alyas Pogi” (1990) “Alyas Pogi 2” (1992) and “Alyas Pogi: The Return” (1999) – has a penchant for roles that demand bandanas, screaming half-naked females and paint-by-number tattoos. The boyish superman with the plastic M14 can take on a gang of mustached and bearded hoods – hoods, we assume, by virtue of the mustaches – all while heroically sucking in the gut under the tucked-in T-shirt. This is the man whose defining moment in his role as Leon in the 2000 film “Ang Kilabot at ang Kembot” has three women accusing him (accurately) of pretending loyalty to each of them, while all the while attempting to get a virgin into bed. And so the women stride in, big brothers in tow, all of whom launch themselves at the man with a hand on another woman’s behind. And then the action starts, elbow to gut, fist to face, a knee to the groin, the whining Casanova suddenly Zorro. The men fall bleeding at his feet, and so do the women, all four trying to squirm their half-naked selves into his arms while Leon rolls his eyes. Another day in the life of a real man.

This is Bong Revilla, whose contribution to culture is in large part the image of the Filipino macho man in a country where film and television offer the public the most accessible set of social standards. In the celluloid world of Bong Revilla, women are either sluts or virgins, wives are forgiving, and a real man is someone with a gun in one hand and a breast in the other. This is Bong Revilla, whose various love affairs while married to his wife and former screen partner Lani Mercado has provided fodder for entertainment news, and whose final acknowledgement of a love child has even his father – who himself fathered illegitimate offspring at the age of 75 – lecturing him on the value of a good marriage. This is Bong Revilla, senator of the Republic, wire-rimmed glasses in place, pounding the lectern in a privilege speech demanding morality from a “maniac” and a “pervert” who he cannot believe is a real man.

There is little doubt as to the guilt of one Doctor Hayden Kho, erstwhile lover of plastic surgery queen Dr. Vicki Belo – he of the red bandanna, gyrating hips, and unfathomable love for George Michael. He has admitted to filming a number of women without their consent during sex, and whether he was responsible for the distribution of those videos, the act of filming alone was enough to toss him behind bars.

What is perhaps stunning about the entire Hayden Kho-Katrina Halili scenario is the level of attention it is getting from the national government. The Senate claims an investigation in aid of legislation is vital to ensure that instances like this will not happen again. Senator Revilla, in a GMA7 interview, claims there is no existing law that will hold Kho responsible, with the exception of perhaps a case of child abuse (Revilla says he has unsubstantiated evidence that Kho did film a minor) or civil damages. It is this “toothless” legislation that Revilla wants to change with his playing knight in shining armor, forgetting perhaps that Kho can be held liable under the Violence Against Women and Children Act.

It is difficult to understand why the senators seem to feel the need to waste national funds on pitting Kho and Halili against each other. Kho does not deny his responsibility, Halili has done little but weep and rail, and while the cameras are trained on the tears rolling down her cheek, the Comelec chief approves of a much-questioned automation, a landslide slips completely off the front page, and the GDP dips lower than conservative estimates. When the story first exploded, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita urged all the women in Dr. Kho’s sex videos to press charges, saying that “anything that is offensive to public morals must be sanctioned,” on the same day brushing off a United Nations report on torture violations in the Philippines. Perhaps rape and strangulation are not offensive compared to a sex video. Allegations of Filipina rapes in Subic did not instigate privilege speeches by Bong Revilla. Charges of torture did not make Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez demand the blacklisting of now Partylist Representative Jovito Palparan.

And this is where morality again walks into the limelight and demurely crosses its legs. All of a sudden every man is a puritan, even the gentlemen of the Senate who “just happened” to view the sex videos. There is suddenly talk again about the evils of sex among the new generation, and a law, authored by Alyas Pogi himself, seeking to “safeguard the interest of the State against the menace” of “pornographic materials” that “disrupt the peace and order of the country.” Pornography, he calls it, anything that represents by whatever means a person (whether minor or an adult) “engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any other representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual purpose that is intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feeling.”

It is a law that has nothing to do with the Hayden Kho case, whose main issue is essentially a conceded lack of consent. Neither does this explain why Revilla and other senators insisted on keeping the investigation public, when aiding legislation could work whether or not senators have a venue to grandstand. And yet this national outrage can very well justify the passing of a law whose definition can give Manoling Morato a reason to kick out another “Schindler’s List.” And so it would mean a farewell to films from “Orapronobis” to “Scorpio Nights” to “Burlesque Queen” to Ai-Ai de las Alas’ “Tanging Ina Mo.” It would mean the possibility of canning “Star Trek” and “Kill Bill” and National Geographic features. It can knock out half the bookshelves of Fully Booked. Brillante Mendoza, recent Cannes best director, will find himself behind bars for producing last year’s critically acclaimed “Serbis.” I do not trust the gentlemen of the Senate to define what is aesthetic, what is emotional, and what is crude, as they do not recognize crudeness in themselves.

It is unnecessary to argue that it is the height of hypocrisy for such a man to propose such a bill, the only added value of this law would perhaps be the banning of Bong Revilla films from the shelves of Video City.

Find more like this: Opinion


  1. noes says:

    sumawsaw pa itong si Bong revilla sa isyu nina Hayden at katrina. kung tutuusin pareho sila ni hayden.

  2. gabriella says:

    I totally agree with this writer. As the old cliche goes, it’s a pot calling the kettle black. I can’t believe Revilla is so dense to pull such hypocrisy. I wish that our politicians will stop acting as if they live a righteous life. We all know how corrupt most of you are. The few good honest men are being eaten alive by the sharks in the political sea of graft and corruption. Either be honest or admit you are not. Quit being sanctimonius.

  3. BOBBY_F says:

    It’s just a role in the movie which Bong Revilla makes a living out of; instead of being a corrupt politician like others. Try to visit cavite and see for yourself the province’s improvement because of his works. And aside from that Sen. Bong Revilla is a part of the so called committee that will handle the case. So whether you like it or not they (Sens. Revilla, Madrigal and Estrada) will continue in this case. And thats their job.

  4. WTH?! says:

    I just dont get it, we put politicians in their places, then afterwards if they do their jobs people say negative things abou them. Whats worst is that people that do these things dont have any idea what their job is. People play smart but in reality they are dumber than the dumbest man on earth.

  5. morales says:

    I agree with WTH?! because many people dont undestand or even know the real job of our politicians. We always criticize their mistakes even the smallest ones. And we forget the many good things they have done for us especially things that benefits us.

  6. stewie says:

    Just wondering…

    does the senate need to get involve in this? It is just a question. There are a lot of issues going on in the country right now:
    -graft and corruption
    – charter change
    – Peace talks w/ MILF
    – Kidnappings/Killings
    – Failing economy.

    Can it just be referred to a lower court. It is just that there are a lot of far more important problem that the senate needs to deal with.

    Isa pa, ano bang klaseng actor si Ms. Halili?
    Wholesome by yung mga works nya? Would you let a 13 yr kid watch her movies?

    Sometimes, the roles they portray in the movies reflects on their lifestyle as well.

    Kung baga sa chess, parang nagme-meron lang si Sen Revilla.

  7. teks says:

    1 June 2009


    Editor in Chief

    Philippine Daily Inquirer


    Columnist, “Method To Madness”

    Philippine Daily Inquirer


    This is with regard to the column “Method to Madness: The morality of Sen. Bong Revilla”, published in page A13 of the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 31 May 2009.

    It is with deep regret that I convey my disappointment on the over-all condescending tone of the literature which I believe is based on false premises.

    It is true that Senator Revilla, since 1986 when he first played a role in a motion picture, has been cast to portray the brusko and barako types. This however does not mean that Bong Revilla is each and every character that he has played as the column would suggest. You see, Senator Revilla has developed to become one of the most respected institutions in the local film industry not for the roles he has depicted on the screen, but for who he really is behind the camera – an emphatic, caring, and concerned individual who will always go out on a limb to help those who are willing to take his help.

    Because of what has been written, I am now convinced that Bong Revilla is a better actor than what others credit him to be, especially now that presumably very educated people have been convinced that the persona he represents onscreen is who he really is, failing to distinguish between the roles he plays and his person off-camera. We should not confuse Bong Revilla with Leon, with Alyas Pogi, with Crisval, nor with any of the over seventy characters he portrayed in over two decades.

    I personally expected these criticisms to surface even before Senator Revilla delivered his privilege speech. In fact, I expected worse, knowing how prominent, influential and financially capable the personalities involved are. The Senator shared these apprehensions, but regardless, decided to take a stand throwing caution to the wind.

    What is saddening is that as the matter develops, it seems that public attention is systematically being diverted from the root cause, the real culprits of the whole “Hayden Kho Hidden Camera” brouhaha, so that Dr. Kho and his fellow perpetrators could recede to the shadows of obscurity.

    Now it has become an issue about Bong Revilla and not about the hapless women in the over forty videos who were videotaped without their consent. Now, the issue is transforming to be about the messenger and no longer about the message. Now, the public is being led to believe in and sympathize with the plight of the evil-doer just because he is being defended by a recognized Women’s Rights activist, and at the same time, is also being led to condemn the victim just because her cause is being carried by an actor whose motion picture image is a barako.

    We, as responsible citizens, and I as a parent, should not allow this to happen. We must look beyond the smoke and mirrors and realize what is absolute – the victim and the perpetrator. This is what is important. We must not make the mistake of turning the victim into the perpetrator. If we allow this to happen, then we will be sending the wrong signal to other victims. We will be imparting the message that justice may no longer be had, and that it would be better for victims to remain silent and secluded instead of embarking on a quest to vindicate themselves from the wrong done them.

    It is true that Bong Revilla is not perfect, neither am I, nor anyone else for that matter. We do not and can never claim perfection. This should however not keep anyone of us, despite our faults and imperfections, from striving to do good things, to do what is right, and to stand up for it. We must always keep in mind that evil can only triumph if good people choose to do nothing. If all waits for the faultless, perfect, and untarnished to act, then nothing good will be done, for the perfect being exists only in our ideals and in our faith.

    I am sure that we are all striving for justice so we should all work together so that justice is served.

    Thank you very much. I am hoping, in the spirit of fair-play and responsible journalism and the Code of Ethics of Journalists of the Philippine Press Institute, that this reply be published in toto with the same prominence as the original literature.

    More power to you and your publication.

    Very truly yours,


    Head for Public Relations

    Office of Senator Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr.

  8. dan says:

    Let’s just stick to the issue. Because Bong Revilla is not the issue here. The issue is the video taping of the said sex scandal without the consent of Katrina Halili. Sometimes most of the people who speak negative things about an issue, they think they are smart enough to give comments on something but in reality they are the dumbest people on earth that doesn’t even know the true role or job of these politicians, especially senators. Even though they do great things but just for one issue they will still look to this negative thing and pull him down. They don’t ride on this issue but they are the committee that helps solve the case.

  9. gabriella says:

    I do agree that nobody is perfect. But to be sanctimonious about the same subject matter on which he is obviously not ‘perfect’ is a hypocrisy.

    Likewise, Stewie is right. There are so many other more important issues that need to be resolved. I firmly believe that politicians are just posturing for the coming election. They are all going after the controversial issues that laypeople are more likely to be interested in.

    It is now very difficult to trust a politician. They all have their own personal agenda. My only wish is that one day, the Philippines will have a noble and altruistic president who will lead this country with integrity and sincerity. That probably is the dream of all Filipinos right now especially the suffering poor.

  10. katrina says:

    The only thing hir is that Sen. Bong Revilla

    did not voluntarily defend katrina halili

    perhaps katrina halili is the one who approach

    Sen. Bong Revilla and ask for help.

    meaning this is not for the upcomming election

    purpose. she just wanted to help katrina

    halili for some reason.

  11. gabriella says:

    ‘Some’ reason could be the election. Anyway, we will never know for sure. I hope this will be resolved without prejudice.

  12. teks says:

    i think we should all give senator revilla a break from all the criticisms. we hate it when we are discriminated, but when we discriminate ourselves, we don’t give a damn.

    i’ll take it in easily if this is way to make a scene for next year’s elections (which i doubt is his scene); rather than watching people like mar roxas ride a pedicab in a scripted “slums” area.

  13. Anonymous says:

    definitely!!! lets support our government specially all of the senadors that are handeling katrina’ case against hayden particlarly Sen. Bong Revilla and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, were going to play an essential role for the inprisonment of hayden kho which is a pervert……

  14. Anonymous says:

    lets support our government specially all of the senadors that are handeling katrina’ case against hayden particlarly Sen. Bong Revilla and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, were going to play an essential role for the inprisonment of hayden kho which is a pervert…..

  15. Anonymous says:

    lets support our government specially all of the senadors that are handeling katrina’ case against hayden particlarly Sen. Bong Revilla and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, were going to play an essential role for the inprisonment of hayden kho which is a pervert….

  16. Anonymous says:

    lets support our government specially all of the senadors that are handeling katrina’ case against hayden particlarly Sen. Bong Revilla and Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, were going to play an essential role for the inprisonment of hayden kho which is a pervert…

  17. boy tusok says:

    Huwag na nating batikusin yung taong tumutulong sa bayan. Marami na din namang nagawang batas si Senator Revilla, mag research lang tayo para malaman natin yun.

    Ang issue dito ay yung ginawang kalaswaan ni
    hayden. Dapat lang talagang ikulong na yan!!

    Go Senator Revilla.!! We’ll support you all the way..!!

  18. boy tusok says:

    Huwag na nating batikusin yung taong tumutulong sa bayan. Marami na din namang nagawang batas si Senator Revilla, mag research lang tayo para malaman natin yun.

    Ang issue dito ay yung ginawang kalaswaan ni
    hayden. Dapat lang talagang ikulong na yan!!

    Go Senator Revilla.!! We’ll support you all the way..!!!

  19. from down the south says:

    Whatever role that an actor plays in his movies doesn’t mean he is in real life.
    I am not really a fan nor a supporter of Bong Revilla. But if he did something good to someone, couldn’t we at least be happy? Not for Revilla, but for the person he is helping.
    Ms. Evangelista, would you not be thankful that someone from the senate is paying attention to this? Whether Revilla has vested interest in doing this, at least he has given support to Ms. Halili. Wouldn’t you also want someone to help you if you were in Ms. Halili’s shoes?
    Ms. Evangelista, I sure hope and pray that what happened to the victims of Dr. Hayden Kho will not happen to you or to any of your family. And if it does, I pray that there is a Bong Revilla who will be behind you.

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