First and foremost, before I digress into these pseudo-political-punk-rock-ramblings, I would like to acknowledge my status as an alumna of The University of the Philippines Diliman (where I graduated Cum Laude, .05 short of Magna, and where I am a member of 2 prestigious Honor Societies). This, only to establish that I am not your uneducated, punk rocker high on drugs and suffering from paranoid delusions. :)
During my stay at the University, it was clear to me what distinguished us UP students from other pupils. The school gave us the freedom to think for ourselves--to be aware of the things going on in our society and to be able to make your own judgments regarding these issues. Moreover, we were encouraged to stand up for what we believed in and to speak up to defend those beliefs. Hence, the UP breed is not afraid to make their voices heard, no matter how the small the voice, how big the enemy, and how deaf the listeners may seem to be.
So what is this certain UP student speaking up against? Who is the enemy, and who are the listeners?
Most of you are probably familiar with the “hit” reality TV series here in the Philippines called Pinoy Big Brother or PBB. One of my friends (and bandmate) was admitted into the house as one of the celebrity housemates. She is Mich Dulce, the resident fashionista. Although I never really watched the previous season of PBB, I promised myself I would be an avid follower of the Celebrity Edition so that I could support and follow the antics of my bubbly friend. At first it was fun, watching my friend be herself on national TV. It was quite entertaining to see her interact with the housemates and to give life to the somewhat boring house. But after a few episodes, I was bothered by the way they portrayed Mich’s character. Here is an excerpt from one of my previous posts in my blog (this has been cut):
“I just watched PBB again last night and i was bothered by the negatively predisposed bias against mich. Halata kasi na negative yung presentation of her as an individual, hindi positive or objective man lang yung pagka present sa pagkatao niya, whereas napaka positive yung presentation sa ibang housemates. For instanc,e she was introduced last night as "designer para sa mga kabataang may kaya”. Yun palang sablay na, na-reduce yung pagiging isang "avant garde” designer niya to one who just designs for the rich. Tapos yung portrayal sa kanya na "papansin,palibhasa nagiisang anak ng may-kayang pamily” is a very biased and unfair depiction, and it jeopardizes her career and the way people see her as an individual, especially since most of the people who watch the show belong to the masses. How would they be able to identify, sympathize or appreciate Mich's character if that is the way she is portrayed? Napaka shallow tuloy ng dating at may stigma of being the "richie brat”.
Madami lang kasing ibang way to portray Mich's character instead of reducing it to the rich fashionista. For instance, naghirap din naman si mich to make it to where she is right now. Nag enter siya ng design contests locally and internationally and nanalo sya. So para din yang atleta na representative ng Pilipinas, yun nga lang sa ibang larangan, at yun ay ang sining ng "fashion design”. I think that would be more accurate than "designer para sa mga kabataang may kaya”.
Let's make our voices heard to help encourage fair portrayals of the housemates kasi hindi naman maganda na may bias yung show kasi malaki ang impluensiya noon sa mga nanonood."
I wanted my voice to be heard, even thru little ways such as internet blogs, mailing lists, etc. I wanted to give justice to the character of Mich, but to put it in a bigger perspective, I wanted to encourage the writers of the show to give fair portrayals of the housemates, no matter which celebrity. If they chose to have a negative bias against another housemate (for instance, if they portrayed Budoy as “anak ng may kaya palibhasa, kaya nag babanda-banda nalang siya”, or John Prats would be shown as “mayaman na child star kaya sa bahay ni kuya agaw atensyon siya”), I’m sure their friends, family and supporters would be upset at the false and unfair depiction of that person’s character. Most people do not have the 24/7 channel, hence they would only rely on the hourly sessions that the regular channel shows, which is already edited to fit the schema that ABS wants to execute.
Because of my desire to make my voice heard (as well as my bandmates), I thought it might be an opportunity to get our message across when ABS-CBN ambushed our band in one of our gigs at Magnet Katipunan. At first, I was uneasy (not to mention quite surprised and annoyed) when they decided to bombard our privacy during the gig. Without asking my permission, they were shooting me once I arrived and they even followed me and my bandmates around the bar. It was only after a while when someone actually introduced themselves to us and asked us if they could interview us for PBB. We were very reluctant to do it but decided that we would for the sake of our bandmate and friend. Later, we thought that it would also be a great opportunity to voice out our opinions. We knew that ABS would probably not even air our comments, but we expressed our criticisms anyway with the hope that the writers/producers/etc would actually listen to the remarks and take some of them into consideration. We told them some of the things which I mentioned above, like how they should be more responsible in their portrayals of the housemates. We questioned the existence of a negative bias against Mich, while none existed towards the other housemates. We told them that they should show the finer points of Filipino culture rather than just showing the low points (the chismis, bickering, constant drama). We also gave a message to the viewers that they shouldn’t believe everything the media shows because they edit the footages to depict what it is that agrees with their script and their vision, regardless of whether it is fair to the housemates involved. We said a lot of things which we knew wouldn’t please ABS. But that is what we are about as UP students/alumni, as a band, and as individuals. We speak up against injustice, and we speak up for what we believe in, even if it means going against media giants such as ABS-CBN. (And which also goes to show that we are NOT using PBB for our band’s publicity. If we were, wouldn’t it be a lot easier just to kiss their asses? :)
But what the heck (let’s omit the profanity because this seems to offend, to a very high degree, viewers and supporters of PBB.. and yes, I say this with sarcasm) happened? PBB did to us the very thing that we were fighting against—the unfair portrayals of people involved in the show. I didn’t think they would stoop that low, we just thought that “hey, they probably wouldn’t air this because they wouldn’t want their ratings to go down..” But no, ABS is lower than low. They told us that they would use the interview as our message to Mich. Instead, they edited the footage in such a way that is FAVORABLE to the viewers’ impression of the show. They omitted our call to the masses not to believe everything the media portrays, they omitted our comments about showing the finer points of Filipino culture, they omitted the part where we questioned the biases and predispositions of the show. Instead, what did they present? They gave us each a measly phrase (such as “Di spoiled brat si Mich!”, “They only show the weird side”) and emphasized the parts when our drummer used profanity. Then, in the end, they had this note that said something like “PBB respects the opinions of viewers” to make them look like a noble network being attacked by…what did their supporters call us again? “Paranoid bandmates na nagdrudrugs na walang pinagaralan” to put it in a nutshell.
This incident is only the insignificant tip of the iceberg but it is a perfect example of how strong the media’s bias is in affecting the consciousness of the people. I like what one of the girls wrote in the PBB forum regarding our interview: “Eh bat kinuhanan pa ng PBB? Siempre meron din silang hidden agenda hahaha!! Sila ang makakakuha ng simpatya at di yun banda... kase kung delikado talaga sa imahe ng show yon, kukuhanan ba naman yon! siempre hinde!”
Amen to that miss. This is what we were trying to get across to the audience during our interview. We wanted to tell the people to look outside of the box. What the media shows us is not the plain, gospel truth. ABS was perhaps, and most likely, threatened by the things we said to them in the interview, hence, they launched this personal attack on us. And yes, I am taking this as an attack. They purposively edited the footage to make us look shallow and ill-mannered (“hindi sya kulot salot ##### naman oh!” )and took out all the things that could open the consciousness of the masses. As we have mentioned in our interview, ABS doesn’t have to sacrifice the well being of the people involved in the show to get ratings. Now, look what they have done to our band, and to us as individuals. We are not even directly involved in the show but they used our genuine desire to make our voices heard to makes us look bad and to gather the sympathy of the viewers, and worse, to continue to lead them into the dark. Shame on you ABS-CBN. Kaunting Ethics naman sana. Although you may be the Goliath, this little David will not stay quiet regarding your injustices. And hopefully, this little article will also stir up emotions of the readers to open their minds and to critically evaluate what the media feeds us. It it those in power who control how events and people are being portrayed. However, if all us little Davids can each speak up, then we can help shape and redefine how humanity and social events are being shown to the Filipino people.
(note: my bf posted this dun sa thread about our interview sa abs forum. yun nga lang medyo close minded talaga mga tao dun. we posted it there to educate the people and not to argue with them. unfortunately, only about 2 people got the point. the rest were to dumb or lazy to really read what the article pointed out, and they were already close minded dahil lang sa fact na nagmumura yung isang member ng dbt. that's all they were repeating over and over again. sad, but at least i tried right? :)