P-Noy, Arroyo, and the Philippine Media

Listening to President Noynoy Aquino’s first State of the Nation Address this afternoon on YouTube left me with some questions. While he was enumerating the anomalies committed by his predeccessor Gloria Arroyo, I couldn’t help but wonder: where was the national media throughout those trying times in the country? I was particularly thinking of the national media because as we all know, members of the local media were being wiped out by corrupt local officials, gambling lords, and other power brokers during the entire time Arroyo was in power.

What happened to the Hello Garci scandal? The shockingly anomalous ZTE-NBN deal? And the most horrifying of all, the Ampatuan massacre? Did any journalist or media outfit investigate with dedication any of these terrible scandals?

No story is worth one’s life, I often heard one Journalism professor in my former department tell his students.  And I totally agree with him.  One would find it difficult to pursue the profession with the same  courage and dedication shown by Shiela Coronel, Marites Vitug, and Glenda Gloria, among other hard-hitting and respected journos, during Arroyo’s despotic term.  That these brave women and other commited journos are alive today is a blessing, and we know they cannot report against ‘the culture of impunity’  all by themselves. Unfortunately, the private interests of media owners take precedence over national interests in the Philippines which further constrain journalists from pursuing their work. 

In the existing political climate in the Philippines, is investigate journalism no longer a possible project for the media?  Why is the media becoming less and less effective in performing its role as the Fourth Estate in our country?  Is it just Gloria’s authoritarian rule that’s responsible for the media’s sad state of affairs, or should we put the blame on selfish media owners who are stifling the spirit of the profession?  Leaders and governments will come and go but we need a strong, reliable media to help us make sense of what’s going on in our country, in both good and bad times.

On the lighter side, here are some bland story ideas that I would write about if I had the chance to do so 😉

1.   What can officials and students of Assumption College say about their most famous alumna? Why have college officials kept silent about the abuses of the Arroyo government?

2.  The CBCP: where were the bishops during Arroyo’s plunder of the country?

3.  Why is the government bent on making Filipinos its main export?  Which president was responsible for systematising export of Filipino workers to the world? And why???  Is the Philippines going to be the next Greece of Southeast Asia?

Oh, by the way, why do TV news anchors shout and sound overly dramatic when they read the news? (Because most of them are former radio anchors?) I remember that news readers looked – and sounded – calm and composed 20-30 years ago. Ahh, how I wish those days were back…

Cuaresma

Naku, Holy Week na pala next week. Bakasyon na dito ng mga estudyante kaya tahimik na ang mga kalsada. Bigla ko tuloy naalala kung paano ang celebrasyon ng cuaresma sa Pinas. Ang mga nagpapapako pag Biernes Santo sa Bulacan, Pampanga, mga distrito ng Maynila at halos buong Pinas ata. Ang mga nagtitinda ng mga medalyon at kung ano-anong relics sa Quiapo. Na halos mapapa-away ka pa bago ka pumasok ng simbahan dahil bigla nilang isasabit sa ‘yo yung paninda nila. ‘Yung mga naka-mikroponong kumakanta ng pasyon sa mga kalsada ng Santa Cruz at Sampaloc.  Meron pa kayang nagpapasyon ngayon sa Maynila? Naalala ko halos puyat ang mga tao sa kalye namin sa Sampaloc pag ganitong cuaresma noon at nagagalit ang mga estuydante lalo na pag final exams, isa na ako dun! Ang mga makabagbag-damadamin na reflection o sharing ng mga artista, politico at mga kung sino pang guests sa mga programa sa TV. Samantalang dito, walang-wala sa kulay at ingay ng mga religious traditions ng Pinas.  Ang relihiyon dito ay personal na bagay at hindi nilalantad sa publiko. May ‘Prayer for the Day’ at Sunday service sa Radio 4 pero iba-ibang Christian denomination ang pinaparinig nila. Last week nga lang, may mahabang diskusyon tungkol sa kaso ng paedophilia na nangyari sa Ireland nung 70s na ngayon lang na-diskubre. Nag-issue na ng apology si Pope Benedict tungkol dito, na dapat lang naman. Meron din kayang mga pang-aabuso sa Pinas ng mga cleriko? At kelan kaya malalaman ng publico ang mga ito? Ilang mga babae o lalake kaya ang nahalay o nabiktima ng mga taong simbahan sa Pinas? Hay, grabe. Yung sinulat ni Rizal noon sa Noli at Fili eh nangyayari pa rin hanggang ngayon. Umalis na nga ang mga Espanol pero patuloy pa rin na nagpapaniwala ang mga tao sa animoy kabanalan at ng mg lider ng simbahan.

Eleksyon 2010

I was searching for James Fallows’ article A Damaged Culture earlier today for a paper I need to write when I stumbled on his latest article.  Interestingly, it was about the Philippines, particularly Noynoy Aquino and his family’s position about Hacienda Luisita. Nalimutan ko na nga yung sinulat nya noong 1987 pero nung binasa ko, halos ganito pa din ang sitwasyon sa Pinas hanggang ngayon. Yung mga mayayaman pa rin ang lalong yumayaman at lalong lumalaki ang agwat ng mahihirap sa mayayaman. I’m not against Noynoy Aquino nor am I endorsing him. I just find it ironic that when he decided to run for president, he was promising change and hope for the people. Tapos ngayon lumalabas na mukhang hanggang salita lang pala siya tungkol dito? Susmiyo. At kung may delicadeza si Kris, sana ay mag-resign sya sa mga programa nya dahil nagiging melodramatic at comedic ang kampanya ng kuya nya dahil sa kanya.  I was 13 when Cory became the President and I have full admiration for the limited reforms she introduced during her term. She could not undo 20 years of dictatorship, as many observed. But it seems that her children have not carried on hers and Ninoy’s love for the nation. Sana lumabas ngayon ang mga tunay na kwentong nagpapakita ng tunay na serbisyo ni Noynoy (at ni Kris) sa bayan. Please Kris, sana naman huwag kang masyadong magyabang sa mga programa mo. Alam na ng buong bayan kung gaano ka/kayo kayaman, samantalang kami nagugutom at naghihirap.

Etihad

It was my first time to fly with Etihad on Tuesday from Manila to Heathrow and I must admit that I was impressed with their service. Malinis, bago at malaki yung plane namin. Masarap din yung food. It’s two notches behind Singapore Air and Cathay Pacific in terms of other amenities they offer but when you consider their air fare rates,  you’d know you got more than what you paid for! Etihad is a relatively new airline and it’s the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates.

It was an interesting flight experience because I’ve never flown with so many kids! Siguro mga 90 percent ng pasahero eh mga Pinoy and the rest are Middle Eastern or white passengers. Ang daming mga Pinoy mums with their kids and husbands! I even met Ana, a nurse in London, carrying her 6-month-old baby! According to her, they flew to Pinas three months ago, so 3 months old pa lang yung baby nya at that time.  But the kids were all quiet and well-behaved during our Manila-Abu Dhabi trip. It’s good to know that OFWs are now able to bring their families with them even for a visit in the Middle East, a big advantage for Pinoys here in the UK.

There were just about 20 of us Pinoys who took the connecting flight from Abu Dhabi to London. It was drizzling when we arrived in London at 1:15 in the afternoon. I walked to the arrival area with Ate Fe who was fetched by her niece and a kababayan.  Ate Fe is from Leyte who’s here to visit her older sister suffering from cancer. ‘Lahat ng 5 ate ko mga domestic helpers. Dinala ng amo nyang British yung ate ko dito,’ she said. Her sister was able to bring her family in the UK but it’s sad that she’s now cancer-stricken.

Hay…I recall what Ana said as we waited to board in Manila. ‘Tayong mga Pinoy kahit saan pwedeng magtrabaho samantalang yung mga puti di nila alam saan sila pupunta’. Eight years in London and now a British citizen, she and her family are moving to Canada once their application for immigration is approved.

I made my way to the bus station. It was time for me to get on with the next leg of my journey.