As expected, Philippine Media is breaking out all the colours to mark the day: lots of red white and blue, the yellow sun and three stars, poetry waxed about Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio — the works. Fiesta Independence Day! Check it out: this extravaganza of nationalist sentiment candy is emanating from an institution — no, an industry — that makes obscene amounts of money keeping Filipino minds pathetically dependent on a dripfeed of neuron-killing teleseryes, noon time variety shows, and hearsay “news” reporting. You can’t beat that mother of all ironies today.
No surprise then that just on the thinking independently criteria, Pinoys already fail. Space and time between original Pinoy ideas come far far in between and those rare gems usually see fruition somewhere else, where greater minds appreciate them. You see this degeneracy in real and useful insight in the very industry that claims to lead thought in the Philippines. Indeed Philippine mainstream media, for example, once again proved this year just how ineffectual and even detrimental it is to progressing the much-needed paradigm shift in the way Filipinos regard their election candidates. We also see it in that other lucrative media product — Filipino Films. Those products simply consistently fail at encouraging Filipinos to think…
How do these filmmakers sleep at night knowing that they are not really creating a work of art but just copies of some other people’s work? They are not even making people think; they are not even stirring emotions or provoking people into doing something with their lives; they are not even inspiring young people to aspire for greatness. What they are producing is just stuff you can discard after one use. In short, most Philippine films are a total waste of the people’s time and money.
Isagani Cruz for his part wrote on the state of the Philippine entertainment industry in an Inquirer.net editorial dated the 16th June 2006:
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Benjamin Franklin said that if the people misuse their suffrages, the remedy is not to withdraw the precious privilege from them but to teach them in its proper use. The entertainment industry, which has the most available access to the [Filipino] people through the movies, television, radio and the tabloids, is instead purposely miseducating them.
The Philippine entertainment industry is not only a vast wasteland, as television has been described in America, but a vicious instrument for the abatement of the nation’s intelligence. The shows it offers for the supposed recreation of the people are generally vulgar and smutty, usually with some little moral lesson inserted to make them look respectable, but offensive nonetheless. On the whole, they are obnoxious and unwholesome and deserve to be trashed.
To those to whom much is given, much is expected.
“Independence” is a peachy word self-described “nationalists” and “thought leaders” like to bandy around specially on occassions like these. Unfortunately the concept, like many others, is simply lost in the media-engineered intellectual bankruptcy of Philippine society. Philippine media would have been in an excellent and unique position of power to influence Filipino thinking by uplifiting it to a level befitting that of a true 21st Century society. One would expect the exceptional power wielded by the Philippine media to be used to strengthen independent thought and eradicate the comfy poverty of originality so deeply-burnt into the fibres that weave the very fabric of Philippine society.
It is only through the establishment of true independent thought as a key cultural pillar in the Philippines that real independence will be achieved. Can we count on the taipans, editors, and “journalists” who control the only truly awesome information dissemination infrastructure that wields content pipelines that go straight into Filipinos’ living rooms, computer monitors, mobile devices, and headphones to step up to the task of putting real substance behind the lip service they pay to the notion of Philippine “Independence”?
As Rappler.com “CEO” Maria Ressa is wont to say when facing a challenge to her precious “thought leadership”, the very notion made me laugh — as loud, perhaps, as ABS-CBN CEO Charo Santos laughs herself silly at Vice Ganda’s tasteless jokes.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.