Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

TV networks share blame for degrading shows

The Palace insists no pressure was applied on Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni to resign over numerous complaints filed against him in the Office of the President. Interestingly, those complaints, which Jalandoni insists have no basis, were filed just soon after Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez was fired by the President for alleged wrong-doings. Gonzalez, unlike Jalandoni, refuses to accept the dismissal order and will fight it in court, but it’s easy to see that all support is being cut off systematically by the Palace from embattled Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, who will face a Senate trial next month. The Palace is indulging in over-kill and obviously wants to divert national attention to her trial, away from the many problems it’s facing---but it’s making such an underdog of Merci that it's already turning off some senators.

Violence continues

Last week I wrote about how a friend was accosted by a burglar in her home in a respectable subdivision in Quezon City who broke the bones of her face so badly she has to undergo surgery for them. Reports of violence continue that the government ---and P-Noy---cannot ignore.

For instance, a doctor-friend whose clinic I visited recently mourned the murders of two people close to his family: a lawyer who was shot dead by a helmeted and masked man aboard a motorcycle, while he was filling up at the Shell station in Katipunan; and a 21-year old scion of a prominent family who was also shot dead by a burglar in the family home in Laguna, while the rest of the family was vacationing abroad.

My doctor-friend, still quite shaken by these episodes, raised this query in this Lenten season, reminiscent of another era: “What’s happening to our country?” Law-enforcement authorities, please do your job.

Soul-searching for Willie

Showman Willie Revillame is suspending his popular “Willing Willie” show over TV-5 for two weeks and has even hinted that he may pull it out altogether,  owing to the huge controversy he stirred when he encouraged the sexy dance of a six-year old boy for the money of it, even as the latter was crying probably from shame. A number of sponsors have pulled out or suspended their ads while public regulatory agencies have weighed in on the episode. Initially Revillame was quoted as defiantly saying he could sustain the show even without the sponsors, but now he seems to have become more penitent and humble. 

Which is as it should be, for this is a perfect time for Revillame to do some intense soul-searching as he comes to the second big black-eye episode in his career, after the stampede in Pasig years ago that killed a lot of people.

List of network 'abuses'

But as actress Monique Wilson wrote in her blog recently, the debate over Revillame’s show is no longer whether it was child abuse or not.” The question is, she continues, “how we as Filipinos, as artists involved in the same industry that created Willy and shows like his, could have allowed this to go on for as long as it has,” and “what is our individual and collective participation in it?” Then she correctly zeroes in on other TV networks (“But wasn’t Channel 2 guilty of the very same thing?”) who are equally “propelled by greed---ratings, money?” Monique went on to narrate the “sins” of the local TV industry: “…news reports that are horrifyingly biased and sensationalist...noon-time variety shows that exploit women and insult our intelligence…talk shows that are intrusive, subjective and tasteless…”

As she put it, “the list goes on and on” but the bad thing is that apart from these “sins,” these programs draw what she terms “demarcation lines” between the social classes: the A and B classes who seem to be entitled to some measure of decency and good taste, and classes C, D and E, who are constantly harangued with extremely bad and vulgar shows.

Is ABS-CBN getting even with Willie?

I agree perfectly with Monique Wilson that the holier-than-thou attitude of Channel 2, which has had a long-running feud with Revillame over his contract with that channel and which now seems bent on exploiting his current plight as long-delayed revenge, won’t do. For the leading channel has little to boast of either, especially in its mass-oriented shows. In fact, Victor Agustin’s “Cocktales” column in Manila Standard recently spoke about TV-5’s claim that it has dug up ABS-CBN’s programs showing Korina Sanchez clapping heartily as very young boys sexily gyrate in macho dances.

Some TV programs devoid of taste

So, do these revelations make the TV networks about even in pushing tasteless and vulgar and even de-humanizing shows? In earlier columns in the Inquirer, before Channel 5 was set up, I had decried the low caliber of noontime shows of ABS-CBN and its staunch rival GMA Network, as they paraded near-naked women and displayed  gimmicks devoid of taste at times. For instance, once I was appalled to see at a Channel 2 noontime show two male hosts egging a teenage girl to continue stuffing her mouth with food until she looked so much like a pig. After some time, all on nationwide TV, she was reduced to tears as she fought hard the urge to throw out the contents of her mouth, presumably in order to win some much-needed money. Ultimately the poor girl did splatter them all out on nationwide TV, as tears and mucus ran down her face; but the terrible thing was that the hosts just continued laughing and the masa audience seemed to enjoy the spectacle too!

Giant networks should help bridge sociological divide 

In my columns, I noted that the giant networks periodically release data on the billions they earn, in an effort to beat their rivals and please their stockholders. But the question decent Filipinos can and should ask is, can’t they start thinking for a change of the people’s welfare? Can’t they raise the level of culture and refinement of the masa, so that the great sociological divide between rich and poor can be bridged somewhat?

Cecile and I have kept faith in mass media

In this regard, I am proud to say that the Sunday 8 pm. 45-minute radio program that Cecile Alvarez and I have been running over the powerful dzRH has kept faith with our firm belief that mass media can be an effective tool for education, edification and inspiration. We have been running our program as a regular paaralang bayan for years now (in Pilipino too, as much as we can help it, and in her mastery of this language Cecile is simply awesome), and our audience can be sure that after 45 minutes with us, they would learn something about the burning issues of the day. We have never underestimated the capacity and the yearning of the masa, who probably constitute the greater bulk of our audience, to understand and learn.

Tonight at 8, for instance, you’ll hear the former chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Gen. Dionisio Santiago (ret.) talk about the drug problem from the local and international standpoint, the pathetic plight of the “drug mules” and the problems encountered by efforts to control the drug-trafficking, and how parents, schools, the Church and other institutions can help save our children from this horrible menace.

Encounter with Shalani

Speaking of Willy’s show, some months ago, I happened to be in the same flight with his show partner Shalani Soledad from Guangzhou to Manila and I went up to speak to her while waiting for our baggage. She’s actually lovelier in person, sans make-up and very simply attired in sweater and jeans, than on TV. I told her that in the times I’ve watched “Willing Willie,” I felt uncomfortable about the way they make the people, including a lot of elder folk, swing and dance to fast music non-stop for long periods. I told Shalani that it’s not remote that one or two of those could be stricken with a heart attack and the show would get into trouble. She appreciated my input and said she would tell the producers.

1 comment:

  1. The boy who danced in the show was crying because he saw Balingit (the basketball player), and he got frightened. If only they asked first, before making all the hoopla, there wouldn't be an issue. It's shameful that an innocent dance by a child has been deemed "malaswa", because so called moral advocates were looking at him with the eyes of a pedophile. For the child, he did nothing wrong. He dance in that fashion, simply because he can.