Rizal as member of media
Tomorrow, we celebrate Jose Rizal’s 151st birth anniversary.
If Rizal were alive today, it is not farfetched that he would be in media.
I would imagine him writing stinging commentaries on the corrupt politicians and self-righteous civil society leaders the way he took on the hypocritical friars and cocky and incompetent Spanish colonial officers in his Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.
I would imagine him an advocate of protecting our environment. As noted by an environmental organization EcoWaste Coalition, during his exile in Dapitan, Rizal did various projects such as the construction of an aqueduct that provided people with clean water, draining of swamps to avoid being breeding places of mosquitoes, use of coconut oil lamps to light up streets, beautification of the town plaza, and planting of trees in different parts of the town.
I would imagine him also writing about our state of education because the importance he puts in education was best expressed in his support for the women of Malolos who defied the wrath of Malolos parish priest Fr. Felipe Garcia, who forbade them to attend night school to study Spanish.
“Ignorance is bondage, because like mind, like man. A man without will of his own is a man without personality. The blind who follows other’s opinion is like a beast led by a halter,” he wrote from London on Feb. 22, 1889.
He also supported the empowerment of women. “ It is no longer the highest wisdom to bow the head to every unjust order, the highest goodness to smile at an insult, to seek solace in humble tear,” he wrote.
He said what they were doing was right:”You have discovered that it is not goodness to be too obedient to every desire and request of those who pose as little gods, but to obey what is reasonable and just, because blind obedience is the origin of crooked orders and in this case both parties sin.”
If Rizal were a member of Philippine media today, it would be interesting what he would have to say about television, the most influential medium today, and the fast expanding internet-based media.
Last year as part of the commemoration of the 150th Rizal birth anniversary, National Artist for Literature Frankie Sionil Jose organized a conference on Nation and Culture at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
One of the speakers was the very talented Lourd de Veyra of TV5.
In his paper, “Portrait of the Broadcaster as dancing Bear,” De Veyra said, “Whereas before, all media needed was to deliver the Five Ws (the joke: who, where, why, when, and what- the- fuck?) and one H (“holy shit!), and consequently shape public opinion, now it does more. Its mission also seems to extend into the realms of myth-making.”
He said in the name of “public service”, TV anchors are seen in waist- deep flood, rescue workers wearing station logo and helping stranded residents off the roof of submerged houses in Pampanga and Bulacan.
“On billboards, male newscasters are photographed wearing flak jackets and SWAT vests, posing as if ready for duty in Afghanistan. Female anchors, on the other hand, are portrayed as caring and nurturing, shot with soft-focus lenses and props like babies as well as the infirm and the elderly, like Mother Teresa with lots of designer cosmetics. In a nation that lives under the tyranny of images, such iconography is crucial,”de Veyra said.
Media has also taken the role of judge, jury and executioner, he said. “There is something truly exhilarating and empowering in the sight of an abusive police officer being verbally abused by a ‘crusading’ broadcaster. If it’s not a police officer, it’s a barangay official or some unprepared low-level bureaucrat who suddenly finds himself on the nasty end of an ambush interview. It’s not who’s right but more of who speaks louder and who’s got the microphone and the camera.”
De Veyra further said, “In this day and age of interactivity, both in and out of social media, television attempts to present itself as a platform for social media. But at what cost? To what ends? It is within these contexts that many broadcasters enjoy frightful degrees of public adoration, oftentimes translating into public office.”
De Veyra said it is something to be concerned about: “And that is actually scarier and more surreal than the sight of teenage vampires and eggs that can talk.”
He asked the unthinkable today: “What happens when you turn off the TV?”