Philippine Obsession #1: Wowowee
The #1 gameshow in the Philippines. It's on for 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. It's Sabado Gigante meets WWE meets Let's Make a Deal.
In the audience: Rich folk, including many Fil-Am tourists who hand over American dollars for the cohosts to pass down to the poor contestants.
The contestants: farmers, squatters, meat on a stick vendors, and other variety of Philippine poorfolk who have been known to invest their life's savings for a bus ticket to the show, without always having enough fare to get home.
Yes, behind the dancing girls, the hours of singing, and a host named Willie -- the singing, dancing, Pat Sajak du jour -- is the biggest spectacle of The Poor Entertaining the Rich since the days of Spartacus and Running Man.
How popular is this show? A ticket snafu at a planned taping at a coliseum mere months ago caused a stampede that killed like dozens of people. Public demand brought the show back to air a few weeks later.
This is the only video of any length I've found so far. Not sure if you'll get a feeling for what goes on here. . . Rest assured, it's like Sabado Gigante in that it's equally entertaining if you don't know the local language.
A very dry analysis on Wowowee can also be found on Wikipedia:
It has some details on the stampede and some of the po' folk who pulled themselves above the poverty line thanks to their Wowowee earnings.