Monday, December 8, 2008

Media: Educator or entertainer?

I am writing from a small carinderia just a few meters off the corner of the Bataan National Highway and Alauli, Pilar Road after a two-hour drive from Manila , through the NLEX (which brought me at loggerheads with one of the Lopez potentates) and the SCTex. I am on my way to a mountain farm I’ve put up to grow ginger, leeks, camote, cassava and other vegetables and spices for our family’s little food chain. I lament having to reduce our regular supplier’s income but with the economic tsunami hitting us now, we all have to cut costs. Ginger, for example, now costs P75 a kilo in Manila and I could get it here for the cost of planting and tending it for the next eight months, which is practically free.  
I’m afraid there’s very little being done to prepare Filipinos for self-reliance and sustainability. At the Ka Entrep (entrepreneurial association) assembly held last week at the Adamson University , I was asked how small entrepreneurs should brace for the challenges. I could have chanted the standard mantra: Cut cost, innovate and adjust; but any thinking entrepreneur would be doing all these already. Instead, I advised the 200-strong audience to work more closely together and pressure government to promote the growth of domestic, import-substituting industries, and reverse past policies of mainly promoting exports.
While the G7 and G20 cautioned countries from turning “protectionist,” the undeniable reality is that most are now taking steps to shore up their economic and financial defenses.
For instance, in a direct negation of the West’s demands for China to revalue or appreciate its currency to reduce its trade imbalance with the West, the UK’s Telegraph reported last December 4 that China is set to even devalue the Yuan by 6 percent over the next year. Obviously, China devised this to take other export market shares to offset the precipitous drop in its export sales, which is essential to stemming the tide of social dislocation caused by the US subprime and credit collapse (that’s leading more and more to a US Depression as many fear).
Another case in point: OPEC countries are cutting back production to inflate oil prices. That’s also protectionism.
To this day, it still is a dirty word to prescribe protection for the Philippine economy and its people. But why are our supposed leaders unable to grasp this for the sake of our people?
There are grand talks of an economic “marshal plan” from some administration economic advisers, like investment agent and Arroyo-sponsored Bicol governor Joey Salceda, who recommended a P100-billion stimulus package, which was raised in the Ka Entrep open forum. But where does Salceda propose this to be put and used? For really, there are never any details from him because he doesn’t understand real economics like Gloria, as they’ve been brought up in the Lehman Bros. and AIG tradition of investment speculation.
Unfortunately, these breakfast reflections didn’t carry over to my lunch here at Morong because of Manny Pacquiao’s latest match. The noise from the TV in Donny’s carinderia made it hard for me to “hear” my own thoughts. But then, I also saw why there is so little thinking done in this country. Practically all -- senators, congressmen, the hoi polloi -- prefer the slam-bang of boxing to the task of understanding, mastering and surmounting our national crises.
I imagine that if another TV monitor were set beside the Pacquiao fight TV, and reported on the P1-trillion swindle the 50-year franchise for the Transco privatization wrought, I doubt that anyone else will pay attention.
Even the BIR’s announcement that it will tax consumers for the refund of illegal Meralco meter deposits, amounting to several billions, would probably not distract the audience from the said bout. In addition, despite this being announced two weeks ago, we still seem to be the only ones protesting.
Not even a recent Napocor announcement that it will be charging consumers for its billions of pesos in fuel supply contract losses to foreign and local Independent Power Producers (IPP) the past decade turned heads. No wonder this country is going to the poorhouse while it hapless citizens enjoy the “entertainment!”
At that point, amid the loud and bloodthirsty goading of the audience signifying Pacquiao’s apparent lead, I focused on the problem of information and values in this country.
Many studies have postulated that media molds 80 percent of the public’s views and people’s understanding of their world. It will, thus, explain what we, as a nation, are today. By the same token, progressive countries that can be comparable to our development in recent history, where entertainment and boxing are given lower priority, all seem to be doing much better.
For instance, boxing offers no great shakes for China , South Korea , Malaysia or Taiwan , and they are all progressive. While Japan has Sumo wrestling, it is more a cultural and spiritual ritual rather than a gladiator sport.
True, the Philippines has had several boxing champions; but it undeniably has a failed economy. These reflections lead me to recall a speech at the formal launching of the Global News Network (GNN) of Destiny Cable and its satellite link of over 200 networks of the Philippine Cable TV Association -- making GNN a truly nationwide broadcast soon.
Mrs. Elena Lim, matriarch of the Destiny Cable group, stressed her vision of education over entertainment in shaping the GNN mission -- a visionary declaration I was extremely delighted about.
We need comprehensive information and values education for true democracy. And as Pacquiao just won; thanking the worst of the lot like Chavit Singson and several “tongressmen,” it only means we will have a lot more work to do toward values formation.
(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.; Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Destiny Cable, Channel 3, Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; also visit

1 comment:

Ian said...