Content warning: This story discusses sexual harassment and abuse.
The celebrity edition of “Pinoy Big Brother: Kumunity Season 10” has finally hailed Alyssa Valdez and Anji Salvacion as its top two winners. With new faces entering the PBB house, a number of now ex-housemates must face the music as they return to the outside world.
One of them is Brenda Mage, who was criticized for sexual harassment and controversial remarks against fellow housemates. However, the comedian’s recently issued public statement reads as a non-apology and seems like an admission that he stands by his actions.
“Lahat ng salita at aksyon ko ay sumasalamin sa aking pagmumukha at pagkatao… Kaya kung may nasaktan man ako sa mga nagawa ko, [I am sorry]… Eto talaga ako eh,” Brenda Mage wrote in a Facebook post published on Jan. 3 along with an old photo of him. It’s structured like a classic non-apology where the person doesn’t directly address their wrongdoings, doesn’t hold themself accountable for their actions, and is unwilling to change. Not to mention, the cryptic photo seems to be either a way to divert the conversation or gain pity.
True, reality TV is fuelled by drama and “PBB” is a form of entertainment, not a high-budget morality test. It may not be entirely fair to solely judge a person by their actions on the show. Still, sexual harassment isn’t something that can be brushed off or made into a personality trait like a penchant for bad-mouthing. Back in October, Brenda Mage drew flak for repeatedly asking fellow contestant Eian Rances this inappropriate question: “Paano kapag nag-inuman tayo tapos paggising mo, hawak ko na, lasing ka? Tuloy o tigil?” Rape, even when it’s hypothetical, isn’t funny. What’s harmful too is that this behavior reinforces negative stereotypes against the LGBTQIA+ (whether or not Brenda Mage sees himself as a community advocate).=
It didn’t help that PBB’s showrunners were also criticized by how they handled viewers’ concerns that TJ Valderrama had been inappropriately touching teen actress Shanaia Gomez. Sugarcoated advice to the housemates on setting boundaries and being “careful” in showing their affection isn’t exactly a surefire way to protect their talent from further harassment.
Before Brenda Mage left the PBB house, friend and fellow “Ms. Q&A” alum Juliana Parizcova Segovia wrote to him in December, “May mga pagkakamali ka pero maitatama mo lahat ’yun kung lalabas ka na at tiyak ko na sa paglabas mo, maisasalba mo pa ang pangalan na matagal mong binuo, iningatan at inalagaan.” Well, there’s still time to grow if he’s open to it.