3 Themes Filipino Media Should Explore More

One night, I called out an acquaintance over her defense of infidelity-themed TV shows. Flustered and clearly offended when I stated that it may be worth looking into other genres and themes, she said that movies and series that talk about infidelity expose people to the truth about two-timing and other unsavory facts about married life. While I can certainly agree with the idea that our media needs to be truer to its audience, simply focusing on themes like infidelity and immorality gloss over more important issues that plague the country.

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Look, to be honest, I can agree that infidelity is indeed a problem in our society today and needs to be addressed sooner or later. Unfortunately, when you really think about it, there are issues in our society that needs to be addressed first. On a personal note, I can say that I too was a victim of infidelity on a number of occasions but I think that pales in comparison to some of the troubles that plague my countrymen today. I mean come on, getting cheated on sucks, but it’s not going to suck as much as starving to death due to poverty, getting beaten up because of discrimination or being sold into slavery. Of course, getting killed probably won’t hurt as much because then, you probably won’t feel anything anymore afterward.

Anyway, here are 3 themes that I think our media should explore if they really claim to want to expose the darker aspects of Philippine society:

Political Corruption

Let’s face it ladies and gentlemen. While political corruption isn’t the only reason for the Philippines’ poverty, one has to remember that our government is actually accountable for much of the troubles we now face as a people. From the weakness of our military to the rampant illiteracy that has gripped the masses, the government has had a hand in just about all of these even if it may be small in some cases. Indeed, we must demand more from our government if we truly want the Philippines to develop into something more than what it is today.

I think it’s time our media started portraying corrupt politicians realistically. Show off stuff like how politicians often pay off desperate or dumb voters during elections. It would also be a good idea to display just how they often try to manipulate public sympathy in order to get more votes in.

Here’s an idea:

Why not televise a comedy-themed mini-series or sitcom that tells the story of an immature and childish man who becomes president because of the death of his parents who were also politicians? Showcase him as an unmarried middle-aged virgin who time and time again refuses to take responsibility for the problems of the country and simply blames others for his incompetence. When finally caught, said president will rely on his friends in the media to make him look good or at least make him look “less guilty” before the masses.

Terrorism

Whether we admit it or not, terrorism remains to be one of the country’s biggest problems. I have heard from many of my friends in other countries that they fear coming to the Philippines because of the threat of being kidnapped or worse by the many terrorist organizations found in the country. What saddens me the most is that very few shows even delve into the problem of terrorism in the Philippines, let alone explore it. Well, there was that indie film Bagong Buwan, if I recall the title correctly, but I doubt few even remember it now what with titles like No Other Woman or Etiquette for Mistresses being all the rage.

While yeah, mistresses are potentially dangerous individuals in a sense, I still think a heavily armed gunman with a determined willingness to kill and die for a cause will definitely have more impact. Yes, the are both moral threats in a sense, but a terrorist is dangerous both morally and physically. A suicide bomber, for instance, doesn’t need to spend time with his or her victims and seduce them; they just need to be in the right place at the right time with a fully functional explosive or any other similar device and take the lives of just about everyone around them.

I remember writing a spoof article a while back but that’s just scratching the surface of the problem. The grim reality is much more complicated, horrifying and altogether depressing to be put together in one article. I wish our media would address the issue of terrorism on a deeper level so that we might be able to better understand the inner workings of a terrorist mind and, hopefully, prevent it from worsening. Indeed, if people were as sensitive to affairs as they are to terrorist threats, I’m sure things like the slaughter of SAF 44 and the plight of the Lumads could have been prevented or at least addressed early on.

Genocide

There is no real way to put into words the horror of genocide. It is perhaps one of the greatest evils human beings can commit against one another. It’s surprising how ignorant of the topic typical Pinoys are.

The Maguindanao Massacre in 2009 might not be considered genocide but only because of technicality because there were not enough corpses on the scene. When one thinks about it, what if the crime had been witnessed by a small town? Would the suspects such as Andal Ampatuan go as far as to butcher every resident of the town?

I can think of few other things that can be as terrible and monstrous as genocide. The idea that so many people could die at the hands of their fellowman is a very disturbing thought indeed. Can you imagine yourself being one of the civilians at the site of such an atrocity, watching helplessly as other people (people you may even know) are beaten, raped and mercilessly killed? Can you imagine being one of these victims yourself, being marched or dragged of to die by an armed faction fully prepared to simply end your life?

A genocide could be taking place right now as we speak. The Lumads of Mindanao are under threat and what little information is being released about them is far from reassuring. However, I strongly doubt anyone will really care as they have no real idea of how utterly dehumanizing being the victim of a genocide is.

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26 Comments on “3 Themes Filipino Media Should Explore More”

  1. Fear The Walking Dead tackles most of these. Filipino writers should learn from this. Considering TWD is pretty popular here, it might be a good idea.

  2. House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey can explored deeply about the true works of politics. It became a very successful show.

    1. Even “House of Cards” and “Game of Thrones” combined pale in comparison to the thoroughly evil nature of Philippine politics.

  3. There should be a fourth (4th) theme that “Filipino media should explore more”: Religion, and whether or not these Colonially-imposed, and nationally-embraced, Catholic and Protestant—including the regionally-traditional Islam—religions are really helping our people, or, just hindering us from becoming one nation.

    We Filipinos are already suffering from our self-serving (kanya-kanya) and aristocratic (hambog) attitude and behavior, which were embedded deeply into the very fabric of our way of life and traditions by our tribal ancestors and Spanish/American colonists; but, how much more has our three (3) major religions increased the disparity and division among our people, made our lives and relationships with one another increasingly intolerable, and fleeced our country of its wealth and resources?

    There is definitely a profound inconsistency with the pious teachings of our three (3) major religions to the way we think and behave as Filipinos, which compels one to think if Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam are just ‘prop’ used by our people, to validate our aristocratic (hambog) attitude and justify our self-serving (makasarili) actions.

  4. Our film industry has not evolved form the Guy and Pip era. Kilig sells. Infidelity is now the flavor of the month. I don’t believe people in that industry have the well being of our society in mind when they make films or TV shows. It’s about catching fire and what sells with minimum investment. My hope is that seeing people’s reaction on Luna would open their eyes and give us quality films and TV shows.

  5. Corruption is widespread in our country; because of the Apathy of people. They never demand the accountability of Public Officials.

    Can you see Thieves, investigating themselves, about their thievery in the Senate?
    of course, you will never catch them…because the Thieves, themselves are the : investigators, prosecutors and Judges.

    On Terrorism…it is a religious and political issue. In the Islamic belief; they have tor terrorize the infidels (Non believers of their God: Allah). They have to do everything , to make everybody submit to the will of their God: Allah.

    Suicide bombings are done by “Islamic Martyrs”; to terrorize the non believers of Allah. The Martyrs are supposed to go to Paradise, after their martyrdom, and marry 72 virgins.

    On Genocide; it happened in Nazi Germany, during World War II. It happened in the Bosnian conflict, a few years ago. It happened in Cambodia, a few years back. The reason for genocide can be: religious; religious/political; political; etc…

    It is unfortunate, that criminals use these idiotic reasons to commit Genocide. Murdering is murdering; no matter what reasons you have to yourself. Raping women is raping women; no matter what reasons you have for yourself. Exploiting people; is exploiting people; no matter what reasons, you have for yourself.

    It is only when, mankind can accept all kinds of people, with differences in : skin colors, beliefs, ideologies,religions,cultures, etc…can we learn to live with each other.

  6. “Here’s an idea:
    Why not televise a comedy-themed mini-series or sitcom that tells the story of an immature and childish man who becomes president because of the death of his parents who were also politicians? Showcase him as an unmarried middle-aged virgin who time and time again refuses to take responsibility for the problems of the country and simply blames others for his incompetence. When finally caught, said president will rely on his friends in the media to make him look good or at least make him look “less guilty” before the masses.”
    *****

    Oh, man, you’ll need an Oscar winner to do that. Where will we look for that guy? He has to be dumb, and yet act like a stoic. He will have a permanent smirk in his face. He will always have to walk like he is newly circumcised. That actor will be drained after every shooting. He will require hazard pay because by the time show is over, for sure, he would want to be brought to a mental hospital.

    But, you know what, you have just given Mar Roxas the winning formula. He better look for a good prosthetics to make him look kalbo. That should be comedy, and he will get 25m tweets. Then, Korina should teach him how to have a permanent smirk, that’s another 25m tweets. Then he will have to walk like he is newly circumcised. That should be 50 m tweets. Boy, that’s 100m tweets, and no way Wally Bayola could catch up with that. And before Mar knows it, he is already in the Palace. And not for long, the populace will be walking the Daang Matuwid like they were all newly circumcised. That would not just be a fashion statement, all other people power who take up the yellow have to do that. ISIS will also be confused because they will not know whether to shoot or not the damned bastards who are after them, but who all walk like newly circumcised and yet with permanent smirks in the faces.

    Have a good day, Grim.

    1. I can see your point. Any tv show about corruption has to tackled in a more realistic fashion. Any humor should be ironic and/or dark humor. No slapstick there, lest people miss the point again. The show must give examples of the politician delaying services for want of bribes. Vote buying, rigging ballots. It must also show the politician favoring businesses that have negative impact on the community because he has received bribes or contributions from said business. Lastly, the series must depict said politician supporting TV stations that air mind-numbing and distracting shows. That would be nice.

      1. Dick S. O’Rosary

        “It must also show the politician favoring businesses that have negative impact on the community because he has received bribes or contributions from said business.”

        Hmm…sounds like the Chinese-Filipino business communities, with Filipino politicians on their payroll, who own the biggest business conglomerates and land in the Philippines.

        Nevermind me; it’ just my opinion.

        Aeta

  7. Wonder if there’s been a pro-geek movie or show that’s a bit like Wayne’s World. Something that shows the Filipino nerds and geeks positively.

  8. A serious adult story must be true to something in life. Since marvel tales cannot be true to the events of life, they must shift their emphasis towards something to which they can be true; namely, certain wistful or restless moods of the human spirit, wherein it seeks to weave gossamer ladders of escape from the galling tyranny of time, space, and natural law.

    Skill alone cannot teach or produce a great short story, which condenses the obsession of the creature; it is a hallucinatory presence manifest from the first sentence to fascinate the reader, to make him lose contact with the dull reality that surrounds him, submerging him in another that is more intense and compelling.

    From a tale one expects a bit of wildness, of exaggeration and dramatic effect. The tale has no inherent concern with decorum, balance or harmony. … A tale may not display a great deal of structural, psychological, or narrative sophistication, though it might possess all three, but it seldom takes its eye off its primary goal, the creation of a particular emotional state in its reader. Depending on the tale, that state could be wonder, amazement, shock, terror, anger, anxiety, melancholia, or the momentary frisson of horror.

    Good writing is good writing. In many ways, it’s the audience and their expectations that define a genre. A reader of literary fiction expects the writing to illuminate the human condition, some aspect of our world and our role in it. A reader of genre fiction likes that, too, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the story.

  9. When you said that thing about a comedy series, I actually thought it might work. The same way that “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister” worked.

    Then I remembered that Pinoys are blind to satire and won’t appreciate the work. It might even be seen as overt criticism of the government.

  10. For me, infidelity is nothing but a cheap topic. Yes, it’s happening for real but it’s the reality that people should actually avoid getting themselves into and never highlight as normal.

    To produce those three themes Grim, we need courageous and intelligent writers and show/filmmakers, people who not only have profit in mind but who want to really contribute to the rise of the country and its people.

    And if I may add, they should also create shows or films about the life and ambition of successful Filipinos, not about rich people per se but people who dream big and succeeded in life, whose work, creation and discoveries made a difference. Not the Maalaala Mo Kaya or Magpakailanman type. More technical where we’ll get to see the details on how the successful individual think and work, the work and ideas behind certain profession or successful products and services, the failures, struggles or challenges they faced and overcome, behaviors or ethics they possess to succeed, and the joy and incentive of winning or succeeding. This is especially good for our youth so they may start to set a high yet achievable goal to work on for a bright future.

    What makes a Japanese animation great, if you would notice, is they show techniques, skills, good values and work ethics in their animation (same goes with Disney and Pixar). And they always put the success of their youths in their mind. Of course there’s also drama and humor in there because that’s a normal part of life. But besides entertainment, they make sure the viewers learn from their shows and leave an impression to dream big, set a goal and exert the right amount of effort and passion to achieve it.

    What’s missing with our Filipino media is they don’t do research and write stories for a purpose. If they do so definitely they will come up with a masterpiece like Heneral Luna. Our media people forget that writing and creating shows and films is a form of art and a medium for progress and radical change. The ones in our mainstream media only write stories and create shows that people will go crazy about and for the sake of profit and rating. If that’s the case, I don’t think they respect their profession and love what they do at all.

    1. “The ones in our mainstream media only write stories and create shows that people will go crazy about and for the sake of profit and rating.”

      Except pala the shows of GMA news team.

    2. If I remember correctly, GMA once made a short series called Bayan Ko and Titser. Also they made a short series on Bonifacio (if I remember correctly). I wish these kinds of work were more of the normal rather than exception in the industry. Kaysa naman puro telenovela ng agawan at kilig with very predictable scripts

      1. You’re right. They produced “Bayan Ko” in time for 2013 national election. That and “Titser” was produced by GMA News and Public Affairs team and was aired in their GMA news channel, not in GMA7.

  11. If we look at History; how Nazi’s Adolf Hitler, came to power, and manipulated the German people to commit Genocide.

    The primary tool of a despot is the: Media. The control of thoughts of people. If they could control the thoughts of people; any dictator can feed : lies, half truths, legends,self serving propagandas, etc…to the minds of people. People would be easily be subject to the Dictator’s will. Apathy could take place; opening the evil leader to do what he/she will do, without being questioned.

    This is happening in our country now. See how Aquino controlled the: executive, legislative and judicial parts of the government. Aquino is now a virtual Dictator.

  12. If it’s just to show the gory details, no thanks. but if it has a twisted convoluted plot that makes you wonder in the end – go for it.

  13. I actually want a film set in pre-hespanic philippines, back to where it wasn’t philippines. Perhaps a story about two tribes and a conflict between them. Actors won’t be cast for looks and star power. I want real looking filipinos like the ones you see on the street and the actual human story is the focus. I don’t also expect to understand the language that they are using, there might be subtitles or something. I don’t expect that era to have the same languages we have now. It might have been very different. No western characters either just a simple but compelling story between tribes.

    1. That would be interesting too. Tribalism, regionalism…they ought to be exposed for what it is eventually. We really don’t have many films that depict the philippines in the past, I think it’s time we get these in the movies too.

  14. @corneman and Isopropyl,

    That is a good idea on doing a movie on pre-Hispanic Philippines—specifically on our tribal cultures. I have always said that our people’s attitude and behavior are not only influenced by our western lineages, but also by our tribal ancestors—especially when it comes to our feudalistic (regional) nature.

    Yet, we focus too much on our Spanish and American heritage to promote our westernized characteristics to the international communities, instead of highlighting our dark-skin tribesmen, grass skirt wearing, and spearing-carrying origin.

    Perhaps one of the reasons why we Filipinos are competing, and fighting, amongst each other is because of our inherently tribal instinct, which we have yet to fully acknowledge because we are too embarrassed to be associated by our indigenously and socially unsophisticated ancestors—like the “Aetas” or “Negritos”; yet, these tribal tendencies are still finding their way to the surface of our attitude and behavior as Filipinos.

    So, instead of trying to downplay our tribal nature out of shame, let’s start embracing it the same way we embrace our westernized culture. We might just discover the missing link that makes up who we really are, and why we live our lives the way we do as people of the Philippines.

    Aeta

  15. @aeta and @isopropyl,

    Relevance and symbolism aside, I just thought that it would be a film that I would want to watch. There were other films like the “dead lands”, “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale”(though this one is set maybe a bit too modern), heck apocalypto even showed that theme. It’s just that these movies offered a glimpse of the past of how life was in their part of the world before the europeans came, their interpretations may not have been perfect but still it was enough to make me wonder about it. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something like that, wonder about that era, set on the ground you walk on. The image I have in my head right now of what we were like before the spaniards is kind of cartoonish. Like Lapu-lapu shouting “Mabuhay ang pilipinas!” charging at Magellan played by some actor who doesn’t look Filipino (just the opening sequence alone destroys your suspension of disbelief).

    Another fun era to explore would be the galleon trade, we could make an adventure type movie on how some filipinos survived the long journey to the americas, surviving the high seas on a galleon dodging pirates and what not.

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