The way Opposition partisans, specially those among them loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) screech about the shutdown of ABS-CBN’s radio-based broadcasting operations, you’d think an institution essential to Filipino life had met its demise. Much of the brouhaha is centred around the testimonials of ABS-CBN talents themselves such as Pinoy Big Brother alumna Kim Chiu who, in a drama-laced tililing rampage, swore by her employer’s ability to open doors for the Batang Yagits of this world and turn people’s lives around.
Filipinos should stop, step back, and put their thinking caps on to take stock of what is really going on here. The Yellowtards are, once again, weaving the same old perverted narrative around the ABS-CBN circus that they had used for more than thirty years to emotionally blackmail Filipinos into marching en masse in lockstep to their dishonest cause. Indeed, ABS-CBN itself is the weapon of mass stupidification that had long been the jewel in the Yellowtards’ arsenal of mass persuasion.
Think of it for a minute. Under the command of the ABS-CBN-Yellowtard Axis are “artists” whose very livelihoods involve getting into people’s heads and keeping them hooked. Partisan and “activist” communities are propagating what are essentially emotional appeals with zero underlying intellectual substance using the showbiz star power of ABS-CBN “talent”. This is worse than dishonesty. It is an effort to create a cult following and not the enlightened society that is key to a successful democracy.
So back to the question on whether ABS-CBN live up to their mission statement of being “in the service of the Filipino”. Are they, really? The sorts of irrational emotionalism that the network aided by its supporters aim to create is no different to the mass hysteria that left 88 dead (some reports say 73) in 2006 as fans of the now defunct ABS-CBN product Wowowee stampeded for free tickets and big prizes being dangled before them by the show’s producers.
Despite this tragedy, the star host of the program Willie Revillame evaded accountability and managed to bag for himself a gig with another practically identical show, this time under the TV5 network, dubbed Willing Willie. The show, which premiered in 2010, went on the become embroiled in another controversy, this time for condoning child exploitation where, in one episode, a six-year-old child was encouraged by Revillame to engage in a striptease act. A BBC report following the incident suggested that Philippine entertainment programming could be “abusive” in nature.
Are these programmes helping the poor, as Revillame and his fans maintain, or are they taking advantage of people’s desperation?
Joey Reyes, a film director and critic, said these shows were seen as a panacea for the problems of the poor.
“They exploit the fact that people need a sense of hope,” he says.
Not only that, contestants who recount the saddest personal stories are often the ones to win the most money, with the result that they “almost celebrate poverty”, according to Mr Reyes.
This seems to be the crooked playbook used by ABS-CBN to further its interests, whether these be in its core media business or in the national politics of the Philippines within which it is deeply-invested. But, over the three decades that ABS-CBN have lorded it over the Philippines’ airwaves, a key question persists:
What productive values have they actually imparted on Filipinos?
The venerable Filipino writer Francisco Sionil José in his short note “ABS CBN: A Requiem” posted on Facebook nailed it…
The Filipinos do not really need ABS-CBN. It does not produce goods or food. It has certainly entertained millions but it did not diminish poverty. Again, freedom worked for the rich—but not for the Filipinos.
It is very hard — virtually impossible — to argue against that, simply because it is true. The tragedy here is that ABS-CBN might just succeed in this latest drama production because showbiz thinking almost always trumps all else in the Philippines.
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