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Nov 29th
Home Sections Entertainment Striptease Act at Toronto's Filipino Fest Draws Ire and Public Censure
Striptease Act at Toronto's Filipino Fest Draws Ire and Public Censure PDF Print E-mail
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Sections - Entertainment
Sunday, 05 September 2010 18:54


P lato said that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Or, the lack of it. A bit actor's strip act during a family-oriented festival is generating a backlash from the Toronto Filipino community. One group feels particularly offended, calling it "uncalled for" and "very offensive". The woman president of the sponsoring organization appears okay with it. But more than that, the presence of Katrina Halili as headliner for the show is bound to raise more questions because of her controversial sex caper with erstwhile lover Hayden Kho that millions saw in the internet. If the festival held in July was for family and the youth looking for role models, why was Katrina Halili and stripteaser Wendel Ramos allowed to lead it?


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Strip Act at Toronto's Mabuhay Festival Draws Condemnation; Katrina Halili Was Headliner






T ORONTO - With an estimated turnout of 14,000 people, the Mabuhay Festival & Trade Show in July must have scored big for its main organizer, the Philippine Independence Day Council (PDIC), a non-profit umbrella organization with a claimed membership of "almost 300" Filipino-Canadian provincial, regional, professional, cultural and social groups in Toronto.


But while success may take the form of expanded pockets and newfound pride among its officers, its basic goal to foster unity within the community "by showcasing the best of Philippine, arts, culture . . ." may have suffered a setback.


Certainly, the likes of burlesque entertainer Katrina Halili and her cohorts at the show don't come up to being "the best" – unless the bar has been lowered to accommodate the many voyeurs who wanted to see raw flesh than propagate culture.


That evening Katrina was all wrapped from neck to thigh, her blue dress revealing her body's magnificent contours that drive men like her erstwhile lover Hayden Kho into convulsion and fits of insanity.


Her signature romp with Kho in a Manila motel bed was her one-defining act, watched by millions in the Internet, and the image staying in everyone's mind forever and burned into CDs for posterity.


The circus that followed, from a police station to a Manila courtroom to the august chambers of the Philippine Senate, had not weakened the interest in Katrina even as she wailed like an abused child as her defenders made it appear. But of course, she is an adult prone to experience occasional hormone surges which could at times be uncontrollable.


Before the bed frolic with Kho, Katrina was nowhere near being "the best". She sexy-danced in dimly-lit clubs in revealing two-piece bikinis, lip-synching songs, teasing customers with her luscious smile, gyrating to tunes one can only find in red-light districts.


Meanwhile, the women crowd at the Mabuhay Festival had an instant epiphany of their own sexuality, thanks to bit-actor Wendell Ramos, who with Katrina and four others provided some comic relief, a bit of entertainment and lots of disappointments.


I half-believe the witnesses' accounts told by colleagues who stayed much longer than I did at the convention centre for the show.


The crowd was roaring wild, according to them, yelling "hubad, hubad" for Ramos to disrobe. As the shouting got louder and the pressure mounted, the actor happily obliged and removed his shirt.


"It elicited shrieks from the female crowd," was how Balita columnist Tenny Soriano put it, which was a bit of an understatement.


"The women were particularly fired up about meeting Wendell and were not disappointed during the show when he took off his shirt much to the delight of many screaming fans," wrote Karen P. Binaday in the August 2010 issue of Filipino Bulletin, a Toronto tabloid.


"The men, on the other hand, were there to see Katrina in the flesh," the writer continued, adding that "she too had a following that included fellas who braved painful ailments just to stand in line to watch her."


Clearly, much against what it had advertised, the festival wasn't so much about arts or heritage as it was about purveying sex. Sex in various disguises.


One group, the Advocacy for Christian Living, decried Ramos' strip act as "very offensive," "distasteful" and "inappropriate".


"This was supposed to be a family festival," ACL's Elena Grutco wrote to this reporter. "It was going fine until one of the artists took off his shirt to expose his body. This act was uncalled for."


"The family festival turned into a rowdy festival and some of the kids were covering their eyes and some of our senior members left in disgust," Grutco said.


According to her, she talked with PIDC president Minda Neri and complained. "She said that 'there is nothing wrong of (sic) what he did' and apparently she approved of this show," Grutco stressed.


Neri and other PIDC officials had not responded to questions by this reporter sent by email more than a month ago.


One of the questions was why, of all people, Katrina Halili was chosen to lead the festival as if she's the embodiment of a compleat Filipina that many Filipino youth in Toronto look for.


"Knowing Katrina and how notorious she has become, no right-thinking organization would dare promote her as some kind of a role model for modern Filipinas," said a Filipino caregivers' advocate who asked not to be identified.


A pparently, PIDC had an arrangement with the Manila-based GMA network, with the latter acting as "presenting sponsors" of the festival.


From what can be gathered from interviews, it appears that PIDC had no say in what GMA dumps on them. The network is out to promote its shows and the talents in its stable through community festivals such as the Mabuhay Festival where it embeds them


"The true measure of an organization comes from the success of the events it leads. This is true with the PIDC 2010 events," boasted PIDC's Ben Cruz in a press release listing the many activities that PIDC led since March and ending with a dance contest in October.


According to Cruz, PIDC president Minda Neri said "she‘s delighted in the knowledge that the various activities of PIDC enjoys strong support and patronage from the different segments in the community. This inspires the members and officers to work even harder to meet and deliver the expectations of the community and its charitable beneficiaries." # # #


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To know more about Toronto’s election, please visit the city's official website at:

For the list of candidates, please visit: 


For other stories and photos of Ms. Halili and others, please visit: 





5. .



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For news videos, please visit and click the links:

1. Beauties & Queens of Toronto: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel">&feature=channel 

2. Shirt as a Medium to Foster Pride in the Philippines: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel">&feature=channel 

3. Katrina Halili and the Signing Stars in Toronto: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel">&feature=channel 

4. Toronto Mayoral Candidate: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel" target=_blank>&feature=channel


For post-G20 summit coverage:

1. Sideshow at Bubbles for Peace Protest: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel">&feature=channel

2. Bubbles for Peace Protest at Queen's Park in Toronto: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel">&feature=channel


For news videos about the G20 summit, click the following links:


1. The other side of protest at: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel" target=_blank>&feature=channel

2. Part I: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel" target=_blank>&feature=channel

3. Part II: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel" target=_blank>&feature=channel

4. Part III: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel" target=_blank>&feature=channel

5. Part IV: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel" target=_blank>&feature=channel

6. Part V: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel" target=_blank>&feature=channel

7.Part VI: &feature=channel href="/&feature=channel" target=_blank>&feature=channel

8. Part VII: href="/" target=_blank>



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