Filipino variety show, Wowowee, is sweeping into town Sunday, September 13, for a live concert at the Tacoma Dome. With eighty eight thousand viewers world-wide, Wowowee is an international phenomenon that connects Filipinos from the US, Australia, Saudi Arabia and many other countries to the place many call “home.”
The television show, hosted by singer and comedian “Willie” Revillame, is filmed in Metro Manila and features game show segments, singing, dancing, and talent competitions. The show’s lively atmosphere is created by colorful costumes, high audience participation, and comedic hosts.
For the live US tour, the entire crew of dancers, makeup artists, hosts, costumes and props will be transported stateside. Audience members who pay anywhere from $45 – $200 to attend the event at the Tacoma Dome can expect the show to be just as spectacular as it is when filmed in the Philippines.
Culturally, the show is important to many Filipinos outside of the Philippines because it serves as a connection to the people and pop culture “back home.”
Fifty-year old John Taverna watches Wowowee almost daily with his wife. For him the show “alleviates the feeling of homesickness” and provides “something to look forward to after work.”
One of Taverna’s favorite segments is when host, Willie, interviews contestants about their life stories. Oftentimes, contestants are people who struggle with extreme poverty and familial strife such as a strained father and son relationship. Taverna enjoys the “real human drama” that unfolds when a contestant’s close family member or friend is called out of the audience, sometimes resulting in tearful confessions of love or forgiveness.
Filipinos across the world can relate to these types of situations and appreciate that, for many contestants, winning cash and prizes means food on the table, the chance for their child to receive a good education, or the opportunity to start their own business.
Armelito Pangilinan, whose mother is a devout daily viewer of the show, noticed that Willie and other hosts have a pattern of spreading goodwill. Pangilinan claims that if you watch the show carefully, you can see the hosts steer contestants towards winning the most valuable prizes, especially if the contestant is elderly or is extremely poor. According to Pangilinan, the show “zeroes in on people who are the most needy,” and leaves audiences with a feeling of hope.
The American audience can expect a high level of drama and inspiration from the live taping as well. Prizes are rumored to include trips to the Philippines for contestants who have been long separated from their families, new car giveaways, and, of course, cash. The producers also plan to highlight American talent in opening acts, including 17 year-old Filipina singing sensation, Charice Pempengco, who has been featured on shows such as Oprah and the Ellen Degeneres Show. In any case, Filipino American audiences can expect to be “wowed” this Saturday, as America gets its first taste of Wowowee..