CONFUSION swirled around Plaza Independencia as tens of thousands of people, including children and the elderly, jammed the venue of a popular television variety show which was staged yesterday to prop up the candidacy of talent manager Annabelle Rama.
With word getting around town that the “Wowowillie” show is in town, the noontime show’s local followers trooped to Plaza Independencia – with some already in the venue as early as 8 p.m. or a full 12 hours before the “show” started – hoping they would get the chance to join the games where host Willie Revillame is known to generously hand out cash and prizes to participants.
Chief Insp. Wildemar Tiu, chief of the Waterfront Police Station, estimates the crowd to reach 30,000.
Revillame has yet to appear on stage as of 8 p.m.
No one from the show’s organizers would confirm if last night’s show will be aired on television. Rose Marie Holganza of TV 5 Cebu said that the show was not station produced.
Organizers of the show however, were careful not to refer to last night’s “Wowowillie” show as a political rally for Rama, who is running for Cebu City’s north district congressional seat. But lawyer Jocelyn Pesquera of Team Rama said that the Manila-based show business celebrities came to Cebu to support the feisty talent manager and the rest of their candidates led by re-electionist Mayor Michael Rama.
The stage constructed infront of Fort San Pedro was covered with a green tarpaulin sheet with “Wowowillie Supports Team Rama” in bold letters.
The “Wowowillie” show started at 8 p.m. with Mayor Rama introducing his slate to the crowd. The mayor thanked hundreds of senior citizens who came to the plaza afterwhich he stepped down from the stage.
Annabelle’s grandchildren Lorin and Venice opened the show with songs. Venice sang “Fireworks” while Lorin did “Call me maybe.”
Others who were in the show were Annabelle’s husband, Eddie Gutierrez; daughter, Ruffa Gutierrez; singer-composer Ogie Alcasid and James Blanco.
“Maasahan ba natin nag boto para sa congresswoman na si Annabelle Rama?” Blanco asked the crowd.
(Can we count on you to vote for Annabelle Rama as congresswoman?)
People who came to watch the show where given pamphlets and cardboard fans that feature Annabelle’s picture in front and the Gutierrez family picture on the other side.
The pamphlet introduces Annabelle as the granddaughter of Don Vicente Rama, niece of former governor Osmundo Rama and sister of Basak San Nicolas barangay captain George Rama.
Supporters of Annabelle started to arrive at the Plaza as early as 12 noon even if the Wowowillie show will start at 8 p.m. Some of the supporters were bringing green cartolinas with imprints “Happy Birthday Annabelle Rama.”
Florinda Canot, 55 years old and a resident of Duljo Fatima, was among those who was at the Plaza Independencia since noon to wait for the show.
“I’m here because I like them, a family of artists and I support Team Rama,” she said.
Senior citizens crowded a portion of the back stage shortly afternoon time to complain why they have not been given front row seats. The group said they were told that senior citizens will be accommodate so that they could join in games and win raffle prizes. One group who saw the Cebu Daily News reporters taking notes, crowded around them after they mistook them as “Wowowillie” organizers who were tasked to list down game participants.
About 100 members of a women’s organization from barangay Kamputhaw also endured the heat of the sun to wait for Wowowillie and to show their support for mayor Rama.
Jennefer Comahig, 27 of barangay Pardo, was with her friends have been staying near the Wowowillie stage since 4 p.m. on Friday to make sure that they will front area and will be able to join games.
“We heard about the game show and we came. It is unexpected for us that there is political involvement here,” she said.
They will just listen if there would be a campaign since their point was to be a part of the game show not the political campaign and birthday celebration of Annabelle.
Phoebe, a 6 year old boy from T. Padilla, helped her grandmother distribute campaign materials.
The grandmother who asked not to be named, said she got the campaign materials from the Team Rama headquarters.
Some of those at the Plaza were people wearing green T-shirts printed with “Annabelle Rama for congresswoman.” /CORRESPONDENT Michelle Joy Padayhag and Silliman University Intern Kristine Fernandez