In recent days, that unsavory aspect of the character of Philippine society has yet again reared its ugly head. As the saying goes, a distracted mind is a happy mind. In no other place in the world does this truism apply better than in the Philippines where, despite monumental wretchedness casting a long-term pall over its society, a perverse “positivity” prevails. Is it really possible to distract an entire nation from its own wretchedness? Apparently it’s been proven time and again by successive Philippine governments that it is easy as pie.
With many crises of national proportions raging around them — the humanitarian challenge left by Typhoon Haiyan, the vast corruption scandal rocking Philippine Congress and Malacanang, a brewing international conflict with China, and a parceling out of Mindanao “autonomy” resting on dubious philosophical grounds — Filipinos have tuned in en masse to a sensational rape-cum-gangster-cum-extortion drama (with apologies for the pun) involving a two-bit celebrity, a fame-starved facially-reconstructed starlet, and a shady underworld thug.
It is not difficult to guess which media conglomerate is leading this unprecedented national dumbing-down. The evidence is in this screen shot taken today, the 29th January 2014 10:00 am AEST…
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[Click here for higher-resolution image.]
The text may be difficult to read in this reduced-resolution screenshot, but the image thumbnails alone already paint a picture of the extent to which the nation’s largest media outlet is killing Filipino brain cells by the trillions. The media circus surrounding the intriguing crime drama surrounding Vhong Navarro, Deniece Cornejo, and Cedric Lee is unprecedented as is the singular focus of ABS-CBN in what is starting to look like a strategic effort to distract Filipinos from more important matters.
Way back I cited in my book a 16th of June 2006 indictment of the Philippine media industry written by columnist Isagani Cruz on the Inquirer.net…
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.
The indiscriminate audience eagerly laps them up because it has not been taught to be selective and more demanding of better quality shows for their pastime. In fact, the easily satisfied fans have been taught the exact opposite reaction — to accept whatever garbage the industry offers them and, to add insult to their injury, to pay for it too.
The leaders of the entertainment industry are supposed to be responsible people but they have evaded their duty to elevate the taste of their mostly unthinking supporters. They have instead cheapened them into a mass of automated individuals whose ultimate joy is to roll up in the aisles at the lewd jokes of potential senators.
Indeed, the Philippine media back in the 1980s carved for itself a lofty perch in the national consciousness, self-styling itself as the guardian of Filipino “freedom”. To be fair, it has lived up to this promise. The Filipino mind is, indeed, free and its national media networks a reflection of this freedom. The interesting outcome of this freedom is that it gave the world better insight into the character of the Filipino mind. For that we thank, the Philippine media and its contribution to the piecing together of what is now a complete picture of what makes the Filipino tick.
”What ails the country is that Philippine society is intellectually bankrupt.” Take, for instance, the national debates, she pointed out. “They are droll and unintelligent, focused on the trivial or the irrelevant.” When the issues are of some significance, it’s the wrong arguments that prevail, the wrong side wins. Logic and common sense take the backseat to political arguments and the views of the poorly-educated.
Above excerpt taken from a Manila Bulletin article on the observations of “an admired Filipino economist, based in New York”. It was published more than thirteen years ago.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.