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» » » » » » » » » » » » » » A Critique on the TV Shows in the Philippines

JR Lopez Gonzales 12:09 PM 5

Even with the advent of really entertaining cyberplaces like Facebook, Digg, Plurk, Twitter, et cetera, television is still the best tool that could be employed to change an entire society’s mentality. There may be millions of Pinoy netizens like you and me yet we pale in comparison with those who still prefer TV as the best (or only) avenue for the latest news and amusement.

According to the figures from the TIME magazine, “across the developing world, around 45% of households had TV in 1995; by 2005 the number had climbed above 60%.” In fact, in the Philippines we have “3,700,000 TV sets, that makes us the 45th in the world”[1]. Sixty-three-point-one percent (63.1%) of the Filipino households have idiot boxes. Compare this to only 45.138 personal computers per million Filipinos [2]. While the Philippine case is not a lot if you compare it to Western households where there are more TV’s than people, it still means that there are more people who own TVs than those who have access to the Internet.

But what really contorts my mood is the low-brow Filipino TV programs. Turn your set on and you’ll know what I mean. Each day, our TV sets are bombarded with Filipino-dubbed cartoons and Asian teleseryes, bird-brain showbiz talkshows, foreign-adapted game shows, “not-so-real” reality shows, remakes of original Filipino classics, and not to mention the recycled storylines of our evening dramas. Yuck. I was even told by my pops that Pera o Bayong segment of the infamous show Wowowee! is merely a mock-up of Pepe Pimentel’s Kwarta o Kahon (talk about the good unsoiled days of local TV).

At sino’ng ‘di mawiwili? (pun intended). Wowowee!, even though now not on the air due to a feud between Willie Revillame and ABS-CBN, his new show “Willing Willie” is still happily dehumanizing us on TV5. (If you forgot to ask, Luningning is there, too). Well it seems noontime shows won’t complete without sexy dancing girls. Bikini-clad girls grind and shake their booties on a show at a time when people are just taking their lunch.

What I personally don’t like about these is that they do not project a respectable image of the Filipina to the whole wide world. The fact that these shows are present in the idiot boxes obviously mean one thing: majority of the Filipino masses enjoy and patronize these rotten shows. It clearly seemed that Filipinos are fond of engaging in activities to escape reality; feeling satisfied when we see better life through other people’s lives.

Why do the executive directors of these shows they allow these to be shown? Why can’t we have muscle-bound men? Even in sex-liberated countries, they guard their children against these kinds of shows. We don’t even see these dancing girls on the American Idol or other “general patronage” programs. I have to believe it is the unending practice and lure of big dole-outs that keep the variety shows going with the bunch of sexy gyrating ladies.

Then comes the afternoon shows. And what kinds of programs then do we have? The repetitive and predictable telenovelas (or “teleseryes”; the former’s that of ABS-CBN, the latter’s of GMA). Do you still remember Mara Clara? It is currently revived but back in the day when I was very young, it ran for five years (1992-1997). Five long years with storyline that merely revolves on a diary and a necklace.

(I’ve written my usual complimentary Top 10 post regarding Pinoy Telenovelas: click here for my “Top 10 Steps on How to Make A High-Rating Soap Opera in the Philippines”).

Well for decades, telenovelas have ruled primetime TV broadcasts. And the awfully most common genre of today is the so-called “fantaserye” (ABS-CBN) or “telefantasya” (GMA). Wow. Immature and nonsensical viewing at its best.

The reason for its success, I believe, is that it provides a “magical” escape to reality.
This calls for the Filipino realism-check. You must be familiar with any of the following assortment of fantasy series: Panday, Darna, Totoy Bato, Pilyang Kerubin, The Last Prince, Lobo, Imortal, Kokey, Encantadia, Etheria, Marina, Dyesebel, Captain Barbell, Kamandag, Illumina, Super Inggo, Varga, Capitan Boom, Lastikman, Fantastic Man, and Elias Paniki. (I’m sure I missed to mention bunch of others).

It seems we can’t get enough of these lousy fight scenes, cranky special effects and inferior 3D animations on our shows. Just what kind of lessons can (and did) we ever learn from these shows? How to fly? How to have superhuman strength from a magical stone? Why can’t we live based on the true facts of life? Can’t we appreciate and be amused with shows on real life?

It’s an easy Psychology 101, really. A recent survey notes that viewers love watching them because they provide inexpensive escape from their problems and boring lives, give them their daily “fix” of farce, and sometimes tell “inspirational” stories that impart principles. It’s catharsis, perhaps.

Am I saying that TVs are bad thing? No. I believe that TV plays a big role especially for tending the mentality of each Filipino. Children can even learn valuable lessons from the idiot boxes. Back in my kindergarten years, I remember singing to the tunes of Kapitan Bilang in ATBP., or Sine’Skwela. But the sad thing about today’s TV programs is that we lack socially-relevant and mentally-challenging shows (or telenovelas), for that matter. They excessively lack realism. Our soap operas, for me are immature and non-sensical. I have to agree with the words of the rapper, Loonie: /Lahat ng nakikita ko, nakakabobo/ Kahit nakapikit ako/ Nakaka-nakaka-Nakakabobo!/ [3]

And our TV giant executives care less about what they broadcast; they’re just there for the moolas. Teleseryes bring in large revenues. Once a show “clicks” and receives positive feedback from viewers, rest assured of a long drama and more guests filling in to support its commercial value. Thanks to these telenovelas, GMA and ABS-CBN get lots of cashouts from commercials. Put the teleseryes in the primetime while the docus should be in the dull wee hours.

I have to say that we need positive information in our TV programs. Aside from news, we can saturate the primetime with documentaries, historic events or maybe Filipino heroism. We should promote entrepreneurship and skills development, too. With these themes present, only then would I be a die-hard fan of Pinoy telenovelas.

On the some new themes on our TV shows, why can’t we make soap operas out of our own literature? Lives and love stories of our heroes, perhaps. Or telenovelas that would depict Muslims or Lumads as good people happily interacting with Christians? Or a show that educates us to veer away from corruption, gambling, or discrimination? Or maybe instill the value of work, discipline and education? It is surely amazing how that very appliance in our living rooms can do. I pray that these execs would care.

On the other hand, about us as the viewing public, instead of passively accepting whatever media companies try to feed us, would it be better if we take some time to reflect on why such programming is made and why we feel attracted to it? Perhaps we will discover that our motivations themselves are not so attractive.


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5 comments A Critique on the TV Shows in the Philippines

  1. I've been looking for a post like this for years -- no joke. I completely agree on all things mentioned. You don't know how sick I am too of these TV shows. It's been years also that I resort to American TV shows and barely watch local shows. That thing about women dancing in noontime shows wearing barely-there costumes, we should raise that issue and that it would be heard by the government.

    I was in your seminar earlier. I was that guy who asked about the inheritance tax.

    I salute you sir. :)

  2. Thank you for your time in reading one of my posts, Ian. Those articles are indeed works of heart and mind - considering my very busy schedule.

    While these kinds of things should be the ones worth talking about, most Filipinos enjoy trivialities. You can check out my blog on Facebook, follow it on NetworkedBlogs, I advise. Padayon IITian!

  3. Those facts that you wrote about the TV programs right now are exactly the reasons why I am no longer having too much time watching the television.

    I prefer browsing the net and reading or watching some articles and clips with a lot of moral lessons or something that makes sense.

    Anyway, there are still some people who really prefers those drama and the continuous flow of the story so we can't blame the TV Stations. They are just giving what the "MAJORITY" of the Filipino people wants.

  4. this is what i am talking about! yung bobo kng mga kapamilya d2 nakakaasar na! lalo na pag hinahalintulad ng lola ko sa totoong buhay yung mga nangyayari sa telenovela! nagiging bobo ang mga pilipino! sana naman maging makatotohanan na yung mga pinapalabas sa tv! nakakabobo eh! nagiging madrama tao kahit d naman kelangan! sarap gumawa ng thesis tungkol sa nagpapabobo sa pilipino ang panunuod ng teleserye!
    hayyy, sorry pero ito talaga nararamdaman ko eh.

  5. Hello, Anonymous 1 & 2.
    I understand and I also feel the way you guys do. Thanks for dropping by and thank you for sharing your pent-up emotions. Padayon lang! :)


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