June 29, 2006 · Posted in: Media

Censors suspend “i-Witness”

THE guardians of the country’s morality have spoken.

In a June 22 ruling received by GMA 7 Network yesterday, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) judged the “i-Witness” episode, “Lukayo: Hindi ito Bastos,” to have “offensive content” and suspended the award-winning documentary program for two weeks.

The controversial episode, aired in May, featured the women of Kalayaan, Laguna who perform a nearly 200-year old ritual that consists of playfully parading and displaying wooden phalluses during weddings. The ritual celebrates marriage and binds communities.

Ramon Obusan, the 2006 National Artist for Dance who was featured in the “i-Witness” documentary by Howie Severino, says that the ritual also allowed the women taking part to “assert their independence” and to mock male power, which the phallus represents.

But the MTRCB said that featuring the ritual in a television program was contrary to its rules and could not be considered acceptable for general viewing “applying contemporary Filipino values and good customs as standards.”

“The Board does not pass judgment over the culture or tradition of indigenous communities, nor does the Board abhor their centuries-old rituals,” said the MTRCB ruling, contained in a letter written by MTRCB chair Ma. Consoliza Laguardia to Severino and GMA 7’s program management head Jose Mari Abacan. “But when these rituals, which you yourself consider as ‘obscure,’ are shown on television, it is the primary duty of the Board to protect the viewing public, since there may be offensive contents in these little-known traditions.”

GMA 7 has no official position yet on the matter and has yet to decide whether to appeal the ruling. Some “i-Witness” staff, however, feel that it may be best to comply with the MTRCB’s decision. “We have to deal with the MTRCB everyday, but in the meantime, the controversy has alreaday generated a great deal of discussion on what is and what is not acceptable.”

Among the things the MTRCB objected to was a video clip filmed by Obusan in Cagayan province. The footage showed men holding wooden phalluses strung around their waists. The MTRCB believes the men were shown in the act of masturbation. But Obusan explained that the men were dressed up as Judas characters and the ritual was performed during Holy Week.

In an affidavit he submitted to the MTRCB, Severino also explained that the “Judas characters are not engaged in an act of masturbation but waving their wooden phalluses. It is primarily a flagellation ritual that has nothing to do with sex.”

In a hearing on June 6, Obusan and the “i-Witness” producers tried to explain the “phallic tradition” in Philippine culture to the MTRCB committee headed by lawyer Manuel Cases. They said that intent of the program was to show a litte-known aspect of Philippine culture, one that has roots in the country’s pre-Hispanic and Hindu-Malay past.

MTRCB members, however, insisted that the scenes shown in the documentary were distasteful and offensive. “The problem,” said Cases, “is how the show was presented. Sure, it is their tradition — they want to play with dildos. That’s what it is. To me, that’s how it looked, they like to play with dildos…But we have to see this in the context of the law and the viewing public. This should not be shown to young people. They will not understand.”

The hearing ended after two hours, during which it became clear that the MTRCB members failed to appreciate the cultural context and importance of the ritual that the “i-Witness” program had documented.

“The discussion was getting absurd,” said Severino.

21 Responses to Censors suspend “i-Witness”



June 29th, 2006 at 7:47 pm

wow, it seems that the sensors are over doing it.what are we,a convent country?
it seems that it’s they who have the dirty minds.the show came in after midnight when it’s adults that watch tv & kids are asleep.



June 29th, 2006 at 10:14 pm

this only proves na malalaswa ang utak ng mga taga MTRCB. i don’t find any offensive and disgusting about it. kung di malaswa ang utak nila, makitid! gusto lang sumikat ni Lagurdia. Wala nga namang kwento sa pagiging chairman nya kapag di sya gumawa ng eksena. get a life MTRCB!



June 29th, 2006 at 10:29 pm

for once i fully agree with you joselu. and as what others are saying in the other thread, if this was shown by discovery channel or national geographic, mtrb would have not said a word and may have even praised it. mga malisyuso sa kapwa pilipino.



June 29th, 2006 at 11:08 pm

hehehe, just this past weekend (sat. & sun.) there was a two- day downtown parade, the culmination of the Gay’s Pride Week Celebration. Not only that the parades were witnessed by over a million of locals and tourists of all ages, but were also live on t.v. And you know how these parades look like. And the kids were enjoying them more than the adults. Come On MTRCB, lead the process of Maturing, instead of backtracking just like the ??(don’ t want to start, you know who? just kidding)..


Ambuot Saimo

June 30th, 2006 at 3:23 am

I have not seen the show and I cannot contribute my two-cents comments objectively. But anyway, obscenity depends on the eyes of the beholder as they say and so there is no real standard as to what is obscene and what is not.

But when the courts are confronted with this kind of question, it usually takes into consideration basically the presence or absence of artistic or literary interest and/or whether it caters to purely purient interests. If it has no artistic nor literary value and caters to purely purient interests it can be classified as obscene. Also, it takes into consideration the standard of the community where it occured. It might be obscene in one place but not in another. In the place where I am, we follow the national standard. This is to prevent local yokels’ influence.

This time I fully agree with Joselu. It’s time to wean ourselves from Spanish-era friars’ influence!



June 30th, 2006 at 6:30 am

I would also like to take this rare opportunity to agree with you Joselu. I remember reading somewhere that they have something similar in Japan. I may be wrong but over there, i don’t think they have an MTRCB that comes up with such medieval pronouncements. Maybe that’s one factor why Japan belongs to the first world and we don’t?



June 30th, 2006 at 9:30 am

it would trouble the mtrcb officials if they were told that pre-hispanic filipinos were in fact comfortable with erotica and sex gadgets, with sexuality being part of our indigenous culture.



June 30th, 2006 at 9:49 am

tangent humor here. methinks i-witness staff should gift mtrcb with “barrel figurine men” from baguio. :chuckles:



June 30th, 2006 at 10:14 am

eto dapat ang panoorin ni Laguardia, kuha muna siya ng popcorn habang nanonood




June 30th, 2006 at 1:39 pm

Jr_lad, there are also good days, hehehe, pero talag, it’s an over kill what they did.
Those people have dirty minds.
Even a fully dressed person will excite them.
maybe those people are fustarted or wanabe priest & nuns.



June 30th, 2006 at 2:57 pm

i Witness Suspension

The MTRCB suspends GMA 7’s documentary program i-Witness because of an episode showing women holding wooden penises of “exaggerated sizes” while participating in the ritual fertility dance of Lukayo. Now we know why Chairman Consoliza Laguardia remains single. She’s phallophobic!

Top 5 Things Overheard Inside the MTRCB Office While Laguardia et. al. Were Reviewing i-Witness’ Lukayo Episode

5) “Bakla ba ‘yang si Howie Severino?”

4) “Men come in three sizes. Small, medium, and ohhhh my god!”

3) “Tubeeeg! Tubeeeg! Bigyan n’yo ako ng tubeeeg!”

2) “Ta-kot ako.”

1) “Chairman… tumutulo po ang laway n’yo. Gusto n’yo ng tissue.”

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Binay’s Daughter

Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay’s 30-year-old daughter, Abigal led a group of students in filing the fourth impeachment case against President Arroyo. Ladies and Gentlemen, you’ve just caught a glimpse of Makati City’s mayor four years from now.

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Good News, Bad News

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Wimby and World Cup Weekend

You have no reason to go out this weekend. The Wimbledon is underway while the quarterfinal matches of the World Cup kick off tonight. I’m betting my ass on Argentina and Ukraine. How about you?

Enjoy your weekend!

FOR A REGULAR DOSE of political humor, pls visit: http://www.professionalheckler.blog-city.com



June 30th, 2006 at 4:52 pm

so…in phallutics, we’re shouting one voice…


whether it’s the hounen matsuri in Japan, the phi ta khon in Thailand, or lukayo in the Philippines, our moral guardians at mtrcb are just saying that phalli are not to be shown on t.v. and are best kept in one’s closet or drawer.

come on, mtrcb, when will we ever graduate from the school of old??? please look beyond the phallic symbol. it’s not always obscene to hold one wooden dick, more so, to see one. but it’s always not fun to encounter dickheads, especially the ones posing as moralists!


howie, it’s sad it turned out this way…any chance for an appeal? i hope so…


Ambuot Saimo

June 30th, 2006 at 10:05 pm

Wow ! this is great…. looks like when it comes to sex Pinoys are united. Could someone convince Mimi Miyagi to run for president in Pinas instead of governor of Nevada?



July 1st, 2006 at 10:46 am

“The hearing ended after two hours, during which it became clear that the MTRCB members failed to appreciate the cultural context and importance of the ritual that the “i-Witness” program had documented.”

MTRCB: Moronic, Tight-assed, Racist Champions of Bigotry




July 1st, 2006 at 11:11 am

can somebody please, pass me that petition paper calling for the abolition of mtcrb?

the word: censor, is offensive enough and they simply could not resist the temptation and relish role playing of being gods here.

spare us the display of manic attitude, hoy!

methinks, the Comelec and this body called mtrcb, should be burned. that way, we prevent the contagion called arrogance of power.



July 5th, 2006 at 11:43 am

can the mtcrb also censor gloria arroyo for her lies which is a disgrace to the morality of the filipinos? para fair, di ba?



July 7th, 2006 at 8:58 pm

censors lift i-witness suspension after a respite of one episode. gma7’s motion for reconsideration and good faith were considered.

…still, they didn’t accept their faults and even warned gma7: this should not happen again.


BASTOS…no, i’m not referring to laguardia et al…michael tan’s latest essay is on the word bastos

he writes, I think we need to move bastos away from a proscriptive, admonishing term toward one which emphasizes ethics, particularly respect for others. he then cited two examples (one of them is the “lukayo: made-popular-by-censorship”) to expound on the matter.

hmmm, after reading the column, censorship may be regarded BASTOS after all.



August 8th, 2007 at 6:40 am

[…] (penis) during weddings. The ritual celebrates marriage and binds communities” (Source: Philippine Center For Investigative Journalism ) Unbelievable! 4. Pagsisilbi bilang isang “Religious Check Point”. Sinong may gusto sa […]


keysinunez.com - Best Viewed with Firefox! » Blog Archive » Mapalad Pa Rin ang mga Pinoy Bloggers!

August 9th, 2007 at 8:27 am

[…] (penis) during weddings. The ritual celebrates marriage and binds communities” (Source: Philippine Center For Investigative Journalism ) […]


Witchking of Angmar

April 15th, 2012 at 4:16 pm

The MTRCB during Fidel Ramos’ time was better.

Deep down inside Filipinos have always been shallow, trusting, liberated, and happy civilization.

When Spanizards came they helped inject the power of the Catholic Church’s ultra-conservative and cynical culture thereby forever destroying the true Filipino culture.

The root of this blog’s problem is actually the Catholic Church and its conservative heirs continuing their destructive culture, which infected the MTRCB.

The Church clerics in Philippines are lucky and their ranks are filled with spoiled pigs and aging rotting zombies coz in countries like the States, they know they will be punished if they practice any form of politics.

Keep the Church in its place and you’ll Free your Nation.


God of Entropy

April 15th, 2012 at 4:50 pm


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