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Political Dynasties in the Philippines: In My Opinion

Next year’s Philippine midterm elections are fast approaching and it paints an all too-familiar image once again: candidates that are ei...



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We are constantly flooded with news now more than ever. And unless you live under a rock, it would take you a jiffy to peek at your newsfeed and you'll see a stream of various memes, links, and infographics.

The information superhighways are all sprinkled with a hodge-podge of news and political statuses; which of course, is not totally a bad thing. And with this torrent of information in the social media, there's not enough time to digest and evaluate these pieces of "news".
The vlog episode of this article is available at our official YouTube Channel.
Our typical journalism class will tell us that media delivers the message, which in turn, impacts on how the rest of the people see the world. Together with the visuals, help the masses form their own opinion. It's the all too-important media; widely considered as the fourth estate of any government next to the judiciary, legislative, and the executive.

The beloved Philippine Islands has one of the freest press in the world; no doubt about that. And like any other country, its media has its own spin doctors  that aim to twist public perception. This is actually the case for most governments. However, for this new administration though, it seems that most of the things we read and see in the news are not siding with the admin - which is not a bad thing in itself.
However, being too aggressive by aiming towards the septegenarian's jugular is not healthy, either. It may sound tad negative but the mainstream media (MSM) should be a bit more fairly. A juxtaposition of headlines from all the major news networks would reveal how these news outfits present the news.

A brief disclaimer here first: I have the highest regard to the journalistic profession. I am a dotcom writer and contributor to mainstream news websites here. I have no axe to grind, I'm just simply presenting my views on how I think the news is being treated these days, which, in all honesty, saddens me. Most of us cannot differentiate what is real from not; the truth from the lie.
Apparently, media can both be sanctimonious and prurient. And while it is a given that one of its main job is to challenge government - it also has the moral duty of presenting not just the bad but also, the good news.

This current admin's honeymoon period has just been concluded and it is marred with controversy - and a lot of significant achievements, too. Far from perfect but as to the aspect of governance, it's pretty decent. This includes the 911 emergency response, the recently-signed 8888 corruption hotline, the OFW's one-stop shop for requirements, the Freedom of Information Bill, and more; which does not even get the media mileage it deserves.

Good news like these have to be told to the public but instead, we are bombarded with news which focus on the president's cursing, the alleged drug deaths and the likes. I'm not saying that the human rights issue should be swept under the rug, but unless it is proven in court that these are state-sponsored killings why are we so quick to conclude that this non-oligarchic president is at the helm? What is worse is when our journos here give these so-called facts to the international press without keeping in mind the basics of gatekeeping.

Pinoy journos and locals alike, have the duty to share to foreigners the nuances of our culture and language. But then again, since some newspeople like sound bites and click baits - those that titillates the senses - are what these foreign media pick. Case in point: the "son of a whore" issue towards Obama. If you're a true-blue Pinoy, you'll be able to distinguish PI as an expletive and not as a personal attack. The locals should do a better job of letting foreign understand context and put things into the right perspective.

I frequently talk to foreigners and one drawback of our Chief Executive's international coverage is that they now have a distorted sense of view on our country. They even thought that the government is pulling off a "genocide" of some sort. Just because that is what is seemingly and singly reported from our islands. Wasn't even surprised that France's Liberation insultingly calls President Duterte, "The Serial Killer President". Luring people to their dailies is but one of the frailties of corporate mass media driven by profit. Saddening but true.

Another thing that makes information dissemination more interesting in the Philippines is the proliferation of fake news. You'll be surprised on how abundant like mushrooms these fake "news" sites are. Chances are, you have seen a Facebook friend share one to your newsfeed. And I honestly find this hilarious.

Yet, people fall for these click-happy antics by politically-motivated netizens. Whether it's a twist on words; invented news stories; or made-up headlines - a lot of our less-researched friends fall prey. And since the masses don't have the luxury to verify these links, they hence take this, at face value.

Unprecented: A French newspaper calls a Chief Executive, "serial killer".
Clearly, blame is not, and should not only be put on the people who bring the news; people's gullibility is also another culprit. In a recent interview by graduating FEU Communications majors to me last week in Manila, I mentioned to them that a responsible reader's job is to take a magnifying lens and compare the headlines in order to have a clearer picture of an issue. It is the reader's job to put the pieces together.

Now, let's talk about the "vilified" Mocha Uson Blog. A dancer from the girl group, Mocha Girls, Margaux Uson set her sex advice aside and paved the way for her open support to the then-Mayor Duterte since the start of this year. What made her blog intriguing is that her Facebook engagements rake in huge numbers even larger than that of Rappler or Inquirer combined. Because of this, most from the "intelligentsia" take a swipe at her. An Ateneo de Manila lampoon magazine ridiculed her with the publication, "Mochang Tanga Blog"; a petition was created to suspend her blog.
From the viewpoint of a blogger; her tiny space in the cyberspace is a clear manifestation that people are looking for other avenues for information aside from MSM. While I don't agree with some of her posts; as well as from the unverified links that she shares; she must not be singled out and be restraint on her freedom to express herself. She even often reminds everyone on her articles and videos that she is not a journalist. I give her props for not hiding behind anonymity and on her frankness. I'd be more supportive of her though, if she shares trustworthy sources in her posts; well, that's just me.

Our current state of info dissemination in the social media is sure rife with problems. Now we become a melting pot of propaganda from left and right; we became more divisive than ever. Truth is the anti-thesis of lies. Our information highways could be the very same roads we use to correct others. In this country, it will be our duty to raise critical thinking; no matter how impossible it may seem for now.
A picture of a beaming young Filipina with Jack Ma and President Obama in a conference graced the dailies exactly about a year ago here in the Philippines. That lady was Aisah Mijeno, a young Filipina scientist who invented an ingenious lamp that works simply by adding two tablespoons of salt on a glass of water. This portable lamp called SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting), made light accessible to thousands of families in the far-flung areas of the country.
L-R: Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, US President Barack Obama, and Filipina scientist Aisa Mijeno.
What that image showed was not just a "Filipino Pride" moment, but a moment of significant importance for the growing trend in the Philippines: social enterprises.

In a nutshell, it is a revenue-generating business which aims to reinvest its profits in cultural, humanitarian, and environmental causes. Simply put, the social entrepreneurs use the money that you pay them for social good.

Especially at the turn of the twentieth century, more and more community enterprises were put up here by young entrepreneurs with impressive leapfrog technologies and innovations. One of these is the "Bambike Revolution Cycles", which are locally-made bicycles with the main chassis built from sturdy bamboo. It has a two-prong approach for community betterment: 1) it provides employment to the people of Tarlac who makes those bikes; and 2) they set up a bike tour for the tourists to enjoy famous Manila landmarks by pedaling their way using the bamboo bikes. I have experienced it myself and those bikes look stylishly great, too.
Bambike workers assembling the bicycle body in Tarlac. 
In the provinces, SE continues to have big leaps forward. A community enterprise that I have recently discovered on Facebook was the Taclob bags. It was made by the survivors of the strongest typhoon in the country, Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan). As a response to the growing need for a source of livelihood, the Taclob project improved the survivors' well-being by allowing them to make bags from discarded materials - which also helps in the reduction of solid waste in Tacloban City.

These are just but a handful of the dynamic social entrepreneurship trend in the Philippines today. Not just geared towards the financial rewards, these community enterprises give proactive contribution in resolving Philippine issues.
The "Compassion" bag, one of the bestselling bags of the Taclob project. 
However, while SE leaves lasting impact to our society, the need to regulate and protect these initiatives arises. A piece of legislation was introduced by Representative Erin Tañada in the Congress four years ago. It was entitled “Magna Carta for Social Enterprises of 2012" but sad to say, it did not gain any traction. With this new administration of Pres. Duterte, however, I see a ray of hope for he seemed to favor pro-poor policies. A legislative measure would raise awareness and governmental support which would further encourage innovative community initiatives all over the archipelago.

It is undeniable that the Philippines could see social enterprise starting to have more and more impact in the coming years. I am hopeful that these community enterprises could be utilized as a  tool for the country's poverty reduction programs.  Who knows, we might have more Aisa Mijenos in the future that could work out creative and innovative ideas for social good - with the less fortunate ones as its primary stakeholders.

Photo Credits:

Aisa Mijeno with the SALt lamp, Accessed 11        October 2016.

Bambike Webiste. Tarlac Workers, Accessed 10 October 2016.

Taclob Facebook Page. Compassion Bag. Accessed 10 October 2016.

I was reading the dailies this morning and I stumbled upon the entertainment section. I was ecstatic to find out that six Filipino films are included in Portugal's 14th Internacional Festival Signos de la Noite line-up which will take place 2 days from now in Lisbon. That's a good number of locally-produced movies shown in an international silver screen.

 as we're inching closer to December, the month where we finally see majority of Philippine movies dominate the ticket sales due to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), it seems to me that 2016 is a good year for Philippine Cinema. We are treated with a  long line of achievements from our dear Filipino filmmakers both here and abroad for this year.
At a filming location in one of a Lav Diaz's movies.
Director Lav Diaz got the Top Prize at the Venice Film Festival for Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) last month. On the other hand, 62nd Cannes Film Festival Best Director Brillante Mendoza's opus, Ma' Rosa earned the Best Actress award for Jaclyn Jose who plays the lead role. This film about drug-dealing was also chosen out of the 8 local films to be the country's 2017 Oscars official entry.

Some months ago, before my kababayan (townmate) Liryc Dela Cruz attended Filmadrid, I had the chance of talking with him about his works, influences, and his then-latest opus Sa Pagitan Ng Pagdalaw At Paglimot (The Ebb of Forgetting). It was a great interview that I actually posted it in two parts for my vlog show. 
A screenshot of my interview with Director Liryc Dela Cruz for my YouTube show.
With these feats, and with the bunch of other Filipino films that are making waves outside the archipelago, one thing is certain here: the Filipino cinema is alive and well. And it is rightly so, with a rich cultural and historical backdrop, the Filipino storytellers have a way of telling their own narratives through the Pinoy director's viewfinders.

However, a lot of things has yet to be done in order to maintain the momentum that the Filipino film industry has been having since the start of the millenium. One of the interviews that stuck in recent memory is the PDI article entitled, "Lav Diaz: Why do filmmakers have to beg from government". It was such a great wake up call to us Pinoys that behind the glitz and the glam of the red carpet are the hardships encountered by our talents just to produce their masterpieces.

Financially, the government has been appropriating measly funding for film development. Even for the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), our filmmakers need to be on bended knees to ask for support. For what I see as a possible response to Pinoy directors' concerns, a week after the Diaz interview came out, the new FDCP Chairperson Liza Diño announced to the public that a new travel assistance program for producers of local films. I am glad that they listened to our directors' sentiments.

And while these new financial assistance scheme is a welcome development, many still has to be done. The FDCP should further foster the development of Pinoy cinema. Excellent cinema can be sourced from the various parts of the country and we still need to find more directors that would take the craft to another level. And since education is key as well, we might need to educate the younger generation on cinema appreciation. This would continue to be a challenge; I honestly believe.

Last week, I went out to see Yeon Sang Ho's horror movieTrain to Busan at a sold-out Pampanga theater mainly watched by a horde of Filipino youngsters. It was a great movie and I was surprised that it actually premiered last May at Cannes. The special effects and the overall production, and the story of the movie was excellent.

This made me ask myself: will there be a time for more Pinoy films to venture on unconventional storytelling? In my lifetime, will Filipino-produced movies have sold-out theaters worldwide, just how the Korean zombie flick did? Will it be possible to have intelligently-entertaining films that the masses would get to appreciate?

But with us being bombarded by formulaic films - MMFF movies included - for our Pinoy directors, for now, it remains to be a long shot.
Hello everyone! I know that it's been quite some time since I've posted an entry here on my blog. I've been quite busy in conceptualizing and producing the vlog episodes and add to that, in getting both ends meet.

It has been great in the past couple of months. I had the opportunity of sharing my thoughts with a French journalist, Chloe, over a cup of coffee. Her insights on politics and society impressed me a lot.

For the past months, as well, it seemed that our YouTube reach for our channel grew in a significant way. In fact, last week, we've just crossed the 1,000th follower-limit. Thank you so much for the patronage.

The first teaser for my YouTube channel back in Q1 of this year.
And maybe, to top this episode of Word of Thanks is my heartfelt thanks to my friends, family, readers and followers.

Two (2) of my articles were nominated for the 2016 Philippine American Press Club's PLARIDEL AWARDS  (Excellence in Filipino American Journalism) for the editorial and entertainment categories. I'll be one in spirit with fellow journalists for the said event next week in Kalayaan Hall, 447 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA, United States.

This is my first international nomination for an award. I am grateful to my The Global Filipino family. Thank you so much to the organizers at mabuhay po tayong lahat!