Except for watching excerpts in Youtube.com, I had no access to any of the television programs in the Philippines while I was still in Vietnam. For the first time tonight I watched a TV magazine program Jessica hosted by GMA7 head of news Jessica Soho that featured how Filipinos deal with poverty. Nothing much has changed since the time I left, and I do not expect for changes to happen any time soon.
The narratives used were that of the tried and tested, trite order: the poor and how despite in the midst of poverty are still able to make their lives better, livable, almost fairy tale-like. The program is guilty of romanticizing poverty. Poverty is never romantic; it’s not beautiful; poverty’s face is ugly.
Production-wise, Philippine TV is definitely better than that of Vietnam or Malaysia. It is safe to say that Philippine TV is the best in Southeast Asia, if not in the entire of Asia only as far as the execution of the program concepts is concerned. However, in terms of content and whether these programs result to national development, most television programs in the Philippines are often found wanting.
Take for instance the investigative program Imbestigador hosted by Mike Enriquez. It seems to me that the producer of the program has high propensity for showing entrapment of people or establishment that are involved in sex trade, as if the poor in this country are maniacal when it comes to their quest for carnal pleasures, a line of thought an ordinary viewer is led to take. No Saturday night is complete without a girly bar in Pasay or a gay bar in Quezon City being infiltrated by an undercover from the National Bureau of Investigation or a production assistant acting as a gay customer and being raided after necessary evidence are already at hand.
If there is an adjective that would appropriately describe Philippine investigative media, especially those airing in prime time it would be so-funny-because-they-assume-all-viewers-are-dumb-or-pathetic.
I’ve been keeping myself from watching Filipino shows since college except for news program, although I was a media student, because I got fed up with sensationalism, bad humor, gore, blood, and sex. But I guess this has to change. I’ll be writing more about the good and the bad faces of Philippine media more frequently from now on.