A month after the issue with the scantily-clad girl group that staged a "carwash" as their claim to fame on Pilipinas Got Talent, we were again gifted with words of wisdom by actor Robin Padilla.
This time, the recipient was Kristel de Catalina, a pole dancer who kept everyone on the edge of their seats with her performance. It was a jaw-dropping show of strength and grace on a spiral pole set to a touching rendition of "Ikaw," juxtaposed against images of a mother and child. All these symbolic of her life struggles as a single mom who would do anything for her child, even risking her life in this way.
Her 4'11" bedazzled frame brought the judges to their feet when her number ended. Angel Locsin had encouraging words for her and Robin noted her form and precision, although cryptically adding "parang may na-miss ka sa huli." At that point, my spider-sense started tingling. I felt what he was implying, but I was ready to let it go.
When Vice Ganda praised her for her strength, saying, "Lalong nagpaganda pa yung simbolismo n'ung ginagawa mo, na pinapakita mo sa buong mundo na ikaw ay isang solo parent. Ikaw ay isang babae at ang isang babae ay kayang umangat at magningning kahit nag-iisa," Robin let out another hirit: "Pero kailangan mo pa rin ng lalaki!"
That was when I took up the gauntlet. No, kuya Robin, single moms do not "need" a man. What you said just belittled the sacrifices every woman in that position does for her children every single day.
You are saying single moms can't do it: They can't raise their children to become responsible adults.
They can't find a use for their talents to hold good jobs that can pay the bills. They can't make their own choices. They can't show strength and grace under pressure—because they are women and they can't do it alone. They are not driven enough. They are emotional. They are weak. In short: They need a man.
Here's news for you—Women have been doing it for years. Some of my peers in my own generation were raised by single moms and they are very successful today. There are women now who are raising their kids solo and slaying it. The whole point of Kristel's performance was to shine a light on the situation that many women have done in the past and what many women are facing today.
If you could only bring a little more sensitivity to the judges' table, you would have felt that.
But you had to butt in with your leather-vest wearing, swaggering machismo.
This star spent hour upon hour perfecting her craft, risking life and limb to take a chance on your stage on behalf of her child, and all you could say was that simplistic remark. You have reduced her to just another single mom, another woman who needs a man by her side in order to live the good life.
You are not alone in this way of thinking, kuya. I am a single mom, and I have had Toms, Dicks, and Harrys present me with iterations of that same message you broadcasted over national television: "You need a man!"
No, I don't. I am living perfectly fine without one. I might get into another serious relationship, but I am in no rush. I have other priorities such as family, my work, and my friends. The last time I checked, I am not curled up in a fetal position, waiting for someone to "rescue" me from my dire straits. I pay my bills on time, I send my kids to school, and they are fed, clothed, and happy. I have a career that gives me the feeling of satisfaction that can I do my share in society. My time and my body are my own.
The scary thing about your message, Robin (and Tom, Dick, and Harry), is that it can also reach women who are in abusive relationships, and because of that fear of "needing" a man, they might choose to stay in that relationship. You are discouraging them from finding their way out from the abuse. You might also convince single mothers to hastily jump into a relationship that will bring them back into that cycle of abuse, because they again, "need a man."
These last words are for Robin and the rest of society:
If you meet a single mom who is shining up there because she is simply breathtakingly spectacular at what she does, encourage her to keep at it. Don't throw shade on a light that shines brightly on her own.
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