Angel Locsin, Robin Padilla, and the ‘Playgirls’: Is the Philippines ready for #TimesUp?

Angel Locsin, Robin Padilla, and the ‘Playgirls’: Is the Philippines ready for #TimesUp?
Can Philippine TV champion the Angel Locsins of the world?

MANILA, Philippines – It’s been days since the now-infamous “Playgirls” audition on Pilipinas Got Talent but people are still talking about it.

In case you missed it: The 4 ladies of the group Playgirls auditioned for the show with what they called a “carwash.” They did wash a car (well, most of the suds were splashed on their bodies rather than the car), but the majority of the performance consisted of the group dancing and twerking clad in nothing more than black underwear.

Angel hit the “no” button a few beats into the number, saying later that they were looking for talent, not bodies: “Ako kasi parang hindi ko kaya na makita kayo na nagsasayaw na naka-underwear para lang sa’min. Masyado kayo magaganda at masyado niyo ’tong pinaghirapan para gawin ’yan. Kung may talent kayo, ’yun ang ipakita niyo sa’min dahil talent ang hinahanap namin dito, hindi katawan. Kaya ko kayo binuzz, ayaw kong ma-objectify kayo, masyado ako nagmamalasakit para sa inyo para i-go ko ’to.”

(For me, I can’t stand to look at you dancing in your underwear just for us. You’re too beautiful and you worked too hard at this to do that. If you have talent, show that to us because that’s what we’re looking for, not bodies. I buzzed you because I don’t want you to be objectified, I care too much for you to give you the go signal for this.)

What followed was an exchange between Robin and Angel that was – at the very least – a little bit awkward.

“Ginagawa niyo ba yan dahil gusto niyo? O labag sa kalooban niyo? Isa-isa ha kasi mahalaga ’to. Para mabura sa isipan nu’ng mga ibang judges na kayo’y napilitan o ano,” Robin asked the 4 ladies. (Are you doing this because you want to do it? Or is it against your will? Each of you answer. So we can remove from some of our judges’ minds that you were forced to do this.)

“Wala naman nag-iisip na napilitan, kuya Binoy,” Angel said in response. (No one thinks they were forced, kuya Binoy.)

“Gusto niyo ba ’yun na mga kalalakihan ay humahanga sa inyo?” Robin pressed further. (Do you like it that there are men who admire you?)

“Seryoso ka?” Angel asked Robin. (Are you serious?)

“Pakinggan muna natin sila,” Robin whispered to Angel. (Let’s listen to what they have to say first.)

One of the Playgirls responded, but didn’t answer Robin’s question directly: “Para po sa’min ay talent naman po namin ito.” (For us, this is a talent.)

The internet exploded. Was their performance, as Robin implied, okay, since they enjoyed doing what they were doing? Was Angel slut shaming the group? Or was she right to turn them away from the show? And of course – what were the people screening the talents thinking when they gave the go signal to have scantily clad girls dancing on a show and network that markets itself as family friendly?


Feminism aside, Vice Ganda’s comments on the affair ring true: “Nagugumilihan lamang ako if car washing in your underwear is really a talent. Pero kung talent kasi talaga ’yan, kahit naka-pajama ka, naka-belo ka, kung kakaiba ’yung talent mo, makikita at makikita yung talent mo.”

(I’m not sure if car washing in your underwear is really a talent. But if that was really a talent, even if you were in your pajamas and a veil, if your talent is unique, you’d be able to show it.)

He ultimately voted no, saying that their talent wasn’t enough to win the show’s P2 million prize.

But what struck a chord were Angel’s comments.

On Twitter, Angel clarified her stand on whether or not she slut-shamed the girl group: “There is no such thing as a ‘slut’ or a ‘non-slut,’ she said. “There are WOMEN.”


Angel was right – in her tweet and on the show. She was right to ask those women to stop being okay with sexualizing themselves for money, and right to speak up and tear down the divisive idea of a “slut” and right to stand up for herself when Robin tried to downplay the Playgirls’ overly-sexualized performance. 

Her sentiments echo the “woke” feminist movement that has rippled across the globe in recent months. As #MeToo and Time’s Up continues to trend across social media and beyond, Pinays are starting to speak up too.

Angel’s remarks, made on a primetime show on one of the nation’s biggest networks, started a conversation – a conversation that has struggled to include and educate women like the Playgirls. But should the network take a stand against such acts that do nothing more than objectify women? One need only turn on the TV during primetime to see a number of dancers not unlike the Playgirls gyrating onstage in front of crowds, contestants, and variety show hosts. The view may be sexy to some people, uncomfortable to most, yet no one bats an eyelash. The dancers go on and on, day in and day out. It’s difficult not to become desensitized. 

Feminism needs to find its place in the Philippines’ misogynist context. Where do the Robin Padillas – not to mention the Tito Sottos, the Willie Revillames, and the Anthony Tabernas – of the Philippines fit? It isn’t enough anymore to only educate and empower women. We must also reeducate the men on how to treat women. The public must also stop making excuses for these men. It doesn’t matter which generation they come from, what their educational background is, or their macho public persona. A true man knows how to treat a woman – whether she is mother, sister, friend, stranger or wife – right.  –

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