Become Persona Non Grata Over a Joke?

This month, Davao is celebrating the Kadayawan Festival, and like many festivals here, celebrities usually come and do something. One of these celebrities was Ramon Bautista, not sure if you’ve heard of him, I haven’t, anyway, he’s a famous comedian here in the Philippines. He performed here in Davao last week and it didn’t go too well.

During his performance, he made a joke about the people (specifically the women of Davao, I believe), calling them “Hipon” or “Prawns”, and it’s not like in the States where “Shrimp”‘ is a term for “weak”, here it’s a term used for an ugly woman who has a sexy body. Needless to say, Davao didn’t like that joke/insult. I think he crossed the line there. He apologized afterwards, in public I might add, but for some people that wasn’t enough. The Davao City Council said that his apology wasn’t sincere and that he should stay away from Davao for now, and that he’s not welcome here.

Ramon Bautista
Ramon Bautista

I personally think it’s excessive… Very excessive. To actually ban someone for a joke. Even if it did cross the line and was basically an insult, which I don’t think was meant to be that way. Me and my friends joke about each other a lot, it’s all just good fun. Someone on Twitter actually said something that I find fits this situation well, “Sana di na lang sila nag-invite ng comedian kung ayaw nila makarinig ng JOKE. It’s like inviting a magician pero ayaw naman pala maloko.” (You shouldn’t have invited a comedian if you didn’t want to hear a JOKE. It’s like inviting a magician, but you don’t want to be tricked.”). They could have thought of something else, or just have been happy with the apology… A lot of Davaoenos were, they just let it slide and support Ramon Bautista…

It’s not like he isn’t the only comedian who uses insults as jokes, just check out Russel Peters or Gabriel Iglesias, they make jokes about people but they’re funny. It’s not even like he stole something or committed a crime, he told a joke which came out as an insult… Oh no, ban him from the city.

Still, Ramon has been pretty cool about being banned, saying that he’ll respect the decision and abide by it. A lot of people have also been tweeting that he doesn’t deserve it, and that’s he’s a really cool and nice guy, and by the number of people who support him, I’m inclined to believe them.

To end this, was it a wrong move? Yes, it was wrong and disrespectful. Did he apologize? Yes. So what’s the problem? The guy made a mistake and said he’s sorry. Now, Davao is looking like a joke to the whole nation because of it’s response. We need to just relax for a minute and consider a few things:

  1. He’s a comedian, it was meant as a joke
  2. He seems like a nice guy, nice enough to apologize.

Next year, invite someone else, a clown maybe :)

Post Author: AJ Martin (200 Posts)

Aaron Martin, also called "AJ," is the son of Bob & Feyma Martin. Aaron is a graduate at Ateneo de Davao University High School in Davao City, Philippines. Aaron was born in the USA, but has lived in the Philippines since age 3.

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  1. Bill S. says

    By standards here in the states, that was nothing. If it had been a comedian from the US, the people of Davao would have probably tar’d and feathered him, or far worse. Many comedians here would have said things far, far worse than what Ramon Baustia said, but we are used to that sort of thing, and usually it dosent bother most of us, of course there are always exceptions.

  2. papaduck says

    Its a joke that he is banned from Davao. I think people just need to grow thicker skin. The city has more important things to worry about than banning someone over a joke.

    • AJ Martin says

      Hi PapaDuck,
      Couldn’t find any news that he is still welcome until now, should have been more thorough, haha. I agree, there are more problems to worry about.

  3. GaryM says


    Section 4. No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

    Does this apply here? I am trying to learn here.

  4. says

    What a joke to ban him. Shouldn’t those people have better things to take care of, than banning a comedian? No doubt who’s the real joke here.

  5. Don says

    The other side of the coin. If you want a city that has stability and security, then you have to be very strict on right of freedom of speech. If someone makes a disparaging comment on the people, then they will be censored. Look how Singapore runs its country. Very strong enforcement of laws and considered one of the safest in Asia if not the world, and no freedom of speech. Sometimes one must take the good with the bad.

    • AJ Martin says

      Hi Don,
      I see your point, but it shouldn’t be on the city council’s agenda to deal with this, at least I don’t think so.

  6. says

    It’s a good thing Davao invited Ramon Bautista to entertain them, and not Chris Rock and his ethnic jokes. Now, that would have driven Davao officials up the wall. LOL

    On a serious note, the freedom of speech is NOT always protected. It is trumped by the public interest; therefore, freedom of speech and expression may not apply in this situation, in my opinion. In fact, If it can be shown in a court of law that the comedian’s reference to Davao women as “hipon” could so enrage the public as to incite violence resulting in injury, or death, or damage to property, the comedian may be held liable, if such violence should occur.

    I suppose that if you are a comedian performing in the Philippines and want to avoid awkward situations [and any possible legal repercussions], you submit a draft of your material to the appropriate sponsors for review and approval prior to performing. That way you’ve taken the monkey off your back.

  7. says

    Well, AJ, since a foreigner can be expelled from the Philippines (and put on the BI’s blacklist) for verbally offending a Philippine citizen, I sort of see this incident as being right in line with “island ways.” πŸ˜†

  8. Bubba Galt says

    Haha. Once again some official shows his face. It’s a joke. And I for one am offened by anyone bein offened. There is no law to protect one soul from bein offened. I wonder if the same powers that be have ever apologised to the people for their graft and corruption. Maybe they should be banned

  9. says

    Davao’s town council has lost its sense of humor. They have onion skins or do they just want to keep up with the city’s reputation as very strict but can’t have fun? After all that’s how Filipinos joke among ourselves, tacky. Filipinos can even greet you with something like “Oy anong nangyari sa ‘yo? Bakit pinabayaan mo ang sarili mo sa kusina? Ang taba-taba mo na.” (Hey, what happened to you? Why did you let yourself in the kitchen too long? You are so fat now.”) From a commenter’s point of view it is meant as a joke or biro. So being a subject of a joke as a group should be taken as it is – just a joke.

  10. says

    Being the newest member in the Philippines or in this forum; I don’t want to tick anyone off so I’ll just sit here in the back of the room and consume fruit while watching the conversation unfold.

    I hope this doesn’t offend anyone! haha


  11. Jose Porfirio says

    Hello, AJ. I see that you like Russel Peters . :) He wouldn’t make it as a comedian in Davao City — especially with his joke about “basmati rice”. LOL (just joking)

  12. Leona says

    Hi AJ- Sorry, I’m with John Reyes and Paul in this subject. In addition, he should have look hard himself in the mirror; I see no pleasing reflection in there at all.

  13. AJ UK says

    Hi AJ

    This guy appears on National Geographic channel with a similar show to Americas Funniest Videos but with a science twist.

    The show is quite funny but would be funnier without him. I think the words “lost in translation” would apply.

    Perhaps he now thinks he is a big shot and can say what he wants.


    AJ UK

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