Monday, August 31, 2020

TALES FROM THE DAYS OF QUARANTINE 4: THE DAY THEY CLOSE THE LIGHTS AND DOORS OF ABS-CBN

I am not going to discuss the impact the non-renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise has on the general public.  What more can be said about that that has not already been said.

I am not even going through the pain of knowing that so many of my friends have packed their belongings and left their work stations at the Eugenio Lopez Jr. Building as the network officially shuts down its commercial TV operations.  

Not only that: all the other ancillary business of the Lopez network have also ceased operations as the drastic streamlining of operations would only be limited to those necessary for the remaining production units to function.  That means Sagip-Pelikula (the ABS-CBN Film Restoration Program), various units of production and, yes, even Bantay Bata in the regional branches have been shut down together with the News and Current Affairs.

I will not even dare estimate a head count of how many people have lost their jobs today.

I am not only talking about the regular employees of the network.  I am also referring to the freelancers who also make a living on contractual jobs whether acting, doing production work for regular or special projects, background talents ( it is politically incorrect to call them extras in the 21st century), caterers, vehicle rentals, etcetera, etcetera.  Someone outside show business will never realize how many people make a living out of a single operational movie or TV set for all they see are the actors and maybe the director .  They do not realize that a single unit of taping can give jobs to over a hundred people in a single day.

Multiply that by the number of shows that are on the pipeline and you can estimate how many entertainment industry workers earn their daily bread from productions.

Those exclusively or regularly affiliated with ABS-CBN have no more jobs --- some by tomorrow, more even earlier when the franchise was officially turned down by Congress.

But the implications of this shutdown goes far beyond just the executives who were grilled in the august halls of Congress as kind of public purging to eventually justify the decision of seventy members of the Lower House.  The closure of ABS-CBN is not only about ABS-CBN but an entire industry --- and again their ancillary businesses.

Bluntly put, the shutdown has affected the advertising industry as well.  It does not necessarily mean that just because ABS-CBN closed down that all the commercials which used to be fielded in that station would necessarily go to its closest competitor.  That is downright simplistic thinking and GMA7 knows that as well.  In the age of the worldwide web, the so-called era of digital content has come even before the politics of shutting down tv stations came into being.

In other words, even before the non-renewal of franchise, commercials have slowly but consistently --- and now exponentially --- been moving towards alternative platforms for their product placements, announcements and events.  That is, it is far cheaper to put up commercials in the digital platform than commercial/free tv which reached up to more than half a million pesos for thirty seconds on a high prime time show.  Consider how much it is to rent a billboard or maybe plaster a humongous poster at the back of a bus (which has more audience exposure during the height of traffic) or even flash videos in LED monitors lining up EDSA.  Even before 31 August 2020, advertisers have already been moving to the cheaper and more accessible alternative.

This, in turn, has also affected the cost of productions of commercials as well. 

The branding pang-digital naman simply means the client plonking in far less the amount than what would be spent if it were for commercial TV or even as an attachment prior to the screening of a movie.

Maybe worse is the fact that the closure of ABS-CBN had to happen now.  Now means the present progressive of 2020 --- when, as I have said, the world is at the doorstep of a possible economic meltdown brought about by the pandemic.  Now is perhaps the worst of times for people to lose jobs ... not only the so many thousands cited by the network but the other businesses as well that depend on the productions.  The number of people yanked out of jobs is saddening but then this is not the be all and end all of the arguments.  Great numbers of businesses are closing down ... and that means adding to the cracking spine of the national economy trying to survive this worldwide catastrophe.

So what does that mean?

The funny part is that people do not understand that it is all about the economy.  Sure, we are so used to (and even excited about) the battle of networks for ratings --- as to who is really Numero Uno.  But at this point that has become immaterial --- since the playing field has been left to a Significant One and an Aspiring Second.  With the closure of one of the two major networks, that often overplayed battle between the Kapamilyas and the Kapusos has become somewhat irrelevant at this point.  The playing field is no longer even.

As a further result of that, network branding of actors and actresses may also cease to have any significance.  That is already being revealed by the rise of narrative series via streaming platforms where popularity is no longer based on network marketing and branding but by novelty and association with content.  For instance, the popular BL (Boy Love) Series possessing substantial audience interest features non-stars who gain their popularity because of the shows they can be found --- and not the other way around.  

In the digital world, the impressive stature of a star in mainstream media does not bear that much importance if at all --- because the digital audience is more concerned about the impact of content (in short term entertainment) rather than the value of highly paid and marketed celebrity.

Admittedly, the stars of the past three decades were products of network discovery, development and boosting.  But now with the kind of multi-platform exposure received by the digital celebrities --- whether they are the influencers famous for being famous --- or the celebrity professionals ( the chefs, beauty experts, comedians --- populating the solar system of vloggers, podcasters and YouTube /Instagram Tik Tok sensations), pop stardom is gradually being redefined.

Considering the cost of production, highly paid stars are no longer viable for digital productions which carry budgets barely half the price of regular mainstream products.  Again, we are plagued with the pang digital stigma --- which means much lower budgets and with reason: there is still no solid business model that can define how you can make money out of these materials not unless they are sold outright or for a period of time to a platform after a much wider release.

To reiterate, it is all about the economy.  And we wish we can remain hopeful as we see the kind of collapse and closures of businesses all over ... not only in our country but all over the world.  To make a headcount of the number of business enterprises --- some almost iconic because of their years of existence --- that declared bankruptcy is more heartbreaking than dismaying. Considering the way things are going, it is going to get worse before it gets any better.

What does this all mean? Why is today so significant in the landscape of Philippine media?  

Because of the short and long term repercussions of the closure of a major network in our country as the economy is taking a major beating.  Because of the consequences brought about by seventy congressmen who voted against the franchise because of  a citation of violations by the management of the network insisting on its moral high ground setting aside the backlash to the economy ... more so, adding to the already growing number joining the ranks of the unemployed at the start of an economic dystopia.

But again, I am looking at the other possibilities.  With ABS-CBN literally arm twisted to migrate to digital platform alternatives, could all these be a blessing in disguise?  Could the move of the network to find digital avenues actually usher in what has been long predicted as the scenario for by-demand, portable and non-structured short term entertainment ?  Could this fast track the growth of streaming venues --- with Filipino creatives challenged to redefine their narratives to a completely different mindset and for an evolving audience?

Could this also mark the start of the decline of free TV as less and less money is funneled into commercials which is the life blood of any commercial network ?  I mean, you can boast of highest ratings but if you do not have sufficient advertisers to prop up your expenses of running a network then ... all those sparkling digits suggesting audience share mean nothing. It is still and will always be about the money and not how many are glued to the TV screen.

The seventy congressmen did not see that ... nor did they foresee how a single legislative decision can and may transform the entire landscape of entertainment of the Filipino people.

As I said in my Facebook shoutout: we are living in the most interesting times. 

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

TALES FROM THE DAYS OF QUARANTINE 3: WHY "IT'S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY" IS COMPLETELY OK

I finished watching the Koreanovela entitled IT'S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY  more than a week ago but I took the time to let it all sink in.

I wouldn't want to gush.  Or to be overruled by a sense of amazement mixed with amusement at the ingenuity of those behind this series.  After SKY CASTLE, THE WORLD OF THE MARRIED (which was actually an adaptation of a British series) and CRASH LANDING ON YOU, I was still not prepared for a series like IT'S OKAY...  I was properly warned by those who saw the show ahead.  They said it was different and that I should brace myself for what some consider a game changer in terms of style and approach of narrative.

When you hear statements like that from very reliable people (which means not your textbook K-novela fanatics), your curiosity reaches a somewhat different level.  The truth is that you expect to be disappointed mainly because people have varying standards and tastes. The more praise is poured into the material, the more suspicious you become that this will live up to your expectations.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

IT'S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY  is nothing close to perfection but you have never seen anything like it not only in the universe of Korean tv novellas but in the treatment of sustainable season narratives.  This series only affirms the amount of creative investment placed in the conceptualization, preparation but more so the production of these works in order to up their ante of conquering a market far beyond the borders of their country.  As it is, Korean pop culture has literally embraced the Asian region: together with K-Pop and Bong Joon Ho (among others), their media products have become a principal export.  At the same time, the popularity of Korean works defies the curse of the subtitles and have turned BTS, Black Pink and Koreanovelas into the kind of food consumed the world over as sustenance.

You need a certain mindset to appreciate IT'S OKAY.

Even with the title credits alone, you realize that you are entering a completely different world: one that has been fabricated with a deliberate style, utilizing a vision that melds the real with the unreal.  The audience is drawn into the world of fairy tales as embodied by an animation style that echoes Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and Corpse Bride (2005).  There is a certain darkness, a dreadfulness about the treatment of the animation --- Burtonesque, yes --- but more reflective of the kind of macabre elements found in the illustrations of the children's stories written by the main character, Ko Moon-Yung (Seo Ye-ji).

The framework story of the isolated Princess standing on her balcony and waiting to be saved becomes the prevailing theme of the entire series.  this is beautifully supported by the heart wrenching story of the brothers Moon Gang-Tae (Kim Soo-Hyun) and Mong Sang-Tae (Oh Jung-Se) as they navigate through their daily lives meant to prove how one protects the other yet how one despises the other as well.  In other words, there is nothing simple nor simplistic about the story.  OK, here we go: there is a great amount of intelligence invested in this narrative. 

Yes, intelligence matched with sensitivity makes the material unique and unforgettable to an audience that may have grown numb from an overdose of Korean stories.  But not this one.  Whether one would like to focus on the use of fairy tales that would validate Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment or the highly sensible and sensitive treatment of autism in the co-dependence of the brothers, the entire mindset used in the creation and production of this work is --- well, groundbreaking.  This is so because of its courage and sense of adventure to experiment with style, to use mixed media (animation with live action) and to venture into a kind of magic realism that is not even Burtonesque but reminiscent of the works of Guillermo del Toro. (Pan's Labyrinth, The Shape of Water).  

The audience is always reminded that this is a fairy tale.  The story of the brothers and the emotionally damaged writer is a fairy tale.  For how else can one explain the castle in the middle of the forest ... or even the evil witch of a mother who morphs into another form so completely unrecognizable so that the plot twist near the end is too fantastic to be real but not invalidated by its truth?  How can this not be a fairy tale when your heroine goes to bed in clothes and make-up as if she is literally a princess who has no hair out of place --- or dress too wrinkled to look immaculate?  How else could a story so sad and painful conclude with each character validated and liberated ... while remaining ennobled and memorable?

No, this is not a story of the real world.  It is a fable overflowing with moral statements without being in your face and using imagination as a tool to convey ideas without going into the route of the tried-tested-and-now-predictable.  It is a love story not just about two people --- but about all kinds of love which demands acceptance and even release.

OK, I can say it: It's Okay Not to be Okay is one of the best Koreanovelas around --- whether you are there studying the phenomenon or genre ... or simply enjoying all these shows like dishes savored and loved to fill the gaps of time at hand.  You laugh, you cry ... but most of all you remember the story because of its superb unfolding and delicately beautiful performances.  Hay, naku.

I am looking at the September 2020 releases of the new series to be released in Korea --- and I am already very, very excited.  The innovation and ingenuity of the Koreans never cease to amaze me.

Needless to add, it frustrates me as well.





Wednesday, August 19, 2020

TALES FROM THE DAYS OF QUARANTINE 2: MY FAVORITE PARANOIA

Worse than the beerus itself (or the economic meltdown that comes hand in hand with its spread) is the paranoia.

COVID19 is a strange bedfellow.  As one of my terminal romantic friends said, the beerus is very much like falling in love in slow burn. Ha? Bakit? Because you may be going around feeling it deep inside without you knowing it ... but spreading the love vibes all over.  At that point, I barfed.  I could not, by any stretch of imagination, equate this lethal invisible enemy into anything that is spewed from Cupid's equally venomous arrow.

OK, let's face it.  We never thought it was going to be this bad.  

If I remember right, sometimes around end of Feb, a doctor friend of mine said, "Oh, this will peak around June or July then peter off in August." Uhm, Doc: mali! August came and now we are hitting the six thousand per day level.  Just when our ASEAN neighbors are counting fingers, we are yielding four digits in terms that only the Department of Health can understand.  

I remember when this was all starting out and I told some people while we were hanging around Starbucks having a chillout time (an activity that has now been relegated to recent history): "All it takes is one motherf---r to enter Manila with the virus and what will follow is virtual chaos and an economic apocalypse.  Imagine mo na lang just one person riding the MRT or LRT with the virus at the height of the rush hour traffic?"  There we go. Nagdilang-anghel nga ako. And now this.

We have turned into such frightened creatures that we do not even want to step out of the house to see another human being not unless he or she is already a familiar in your very controlled little kingdom.

It will only be a matter of days and we would be celebrating six months --- yes, six effing months --- of self-confinement because we do not know what are the possibilities of sniffing that damn virus into our nostrils and lead us to the hellish path of a ventilator.  Can you imagine that?  Half a year --- and in a matter of days I will be hearing Jose Mari Chan singing about Christmas in your heart --- and I do not even know where the great part of 2020 went.

Of course I do know.  I have memorized every nook and cranny of my house, turned into a plantito, considered going to the grocery as a death defying adventure and had grown a natural fear of being near any human being who does not live with me.  I have not seen my family and my closest friends for half a year --- and one day I will not recognize them unless they come in little boxes with talking heads because my social life has been diminished into a scheduled Zoom Meeting.

Oh, but that is not ALL that makes this whole experience unforgettable and somewhat miserable.

It is the fear: the constant fear that if you really f--k it up, you're going to join the cesspool of statistics.  Yeah, the fatalities.  OK, take a moment and make a headcount of how many people you know have already died since last March.  Not nice, 'no?  Then try to listen to all the amazing stories about how someone you know or someone known by someone you know contracted the disease. Ah, that is when it really, really creepy.

Oh, have you heard of the senior citizens and some other members of a family infected by the virus because their household help requested for some days off when the first GCQ was announced to see her family? And when she came back, her pasalubong was the virus that was shared by the entire household?

What about the guy who barely went out of the house and had everything delivered to his home only to catch the virus from either a delivery boy or the package that was handed to him and which he brought into his house?

What about the panic that happened because one of the cashiers and attendants in a supermarket tested positive --- and was blamed for the infection of a great number of residents of an enclave in the burbs?

Or what about the office worker who took a ride in one of these transport vans moving around Manila ... which apparently barely practiced social distancing but which she had to use to get to work?

I can go on and one and each time I hear this, I get more and more paranoid.

And then there is this guy who always stayed inside the house and only went out once to buy a birthday cake for his girlfriend --- and ta-ra-raaan, positive na siya. 

Ah, ewan!

So as a result --- I have graduated from cautious to PARANOID.

For starters, I have been drinking so many immunity boosters so much so that soon I will leap buildings in a single bound and react drastically to Kryptonite.  Every morning and evening, I pump myself up with 1000 mgs of Vitamin C. In the mornings, right after breakfast, my line of defense is to  strengthen my system with zinc, accompany this with Immunomax Forte --- then gulp a handful of vitamins that include D2, B-complex, Vitamin E, etc. 

But that is not all.

The first time I stepped out of the house out of sheer need to go to the bank, I was so terrified with what was once such familiar environment that I was wearing a face mask and face shield that made me look like a character from a George Lucas franchise.  I was so scared that I brought not only Alcogel but also a baby bottle of alcohol, Wet Ones and refused to touch anything with my bare hands.  I entered the bank using my elbows to push open the door, right?

Even at home, it was a requirement that everyone who came from the outside was not allowed to enter the interior of the premises wearing the same clothes sported when exposed to the virus-infested air of the rest of the world.  Clothes had to be immediately removed, thrown to the hamper that was sealed, shoes were never to be brought into the house. 

 That first time I left the house found me undressing in front of very traumatized household help right there in the dirty kitchen because I did not want to bring anything from the outside world into the rest of the residence.  It was not like a virus ... but more of radiation.  The fear was very well marked, embedded and gnawing into your person.

O tapos how many times did I find myself washing my hands each day!  I realized that I am turning completely O-C because I would grab a bar of soap and wash my hands (counting to twenty because that is how long it takes for the soap to kill the virus stuck to your fingers and palm) each time I touch anything that came from the outside world.

I had this crazy feeling that the virus was just waiting for a chance to stick to my fingers ... not unless I keep on scrubbing and creating lather while singing Happy Birthday To You twice (because I read somewhere that singing the song two times covers twenty seconds). So it found it really had to explain to my housekeeper why she caught me once in the kitchen sink literally abusing a bar of Safeguard while singing Happy birthday under my breath.  The look that Yaya gave me ... was one of grave concern.

After being locked up for almost half a year, we have all changed.  And some of my friends have as well.

When GCQ Season 1 was announced, I felt more confident going to my happy places --- which include groceries and the plant stores as Quezon Memorial Circle.  And it was out of my social media-oriented self that I would post photos of "Direk pushing his cart in the middle of S&R"or "Direk waiting in the cashier's line"or "Direk and the Calladiums".  In between the happy reactions to my friends and followers came a deluge from particular close buddies who screamed, "Bakit ka nasa labas? Umuwi ka na!" or worse, "You belong to the endangered category. Go home na."

Endangered. Parang Philippine Eagle? Or tarsier? What am I supposed to do? Stay locked up inside my house until a vaccine is discovered? And considering what they are saying about these minadaling vaccines and the dangers they pose because they are not properly tested, ayoko nga muna.

Hintayin ko muna at tingnan whatever happens to those who will be used as guinea pigs with the Sputnik vaccine before I even dare go near that hypodermic needle. Malay mo tubuan nga ako ng third nipple as a side effect of this experimental drug ... not that it may be a real disadvantage to have that ... uh, extra added feature.

Yes, to a certain extent we have all turned paranoid.

I, for one, am very careful about the direction being taken by my mental health because of this paranoia.

Just the other day, after receiving a package I ordered from Kuya Delivery  I accidentally scratched my nose.

Then I froze.

I had not washed my hand after handling the package and the money to pay Kuya Delivery and I touched my face. I scratched MY NOSE.

The next few minutes was pure panic which involved a cotton ball and alcohol.

And I realized something. Your nasal track was not designed to tolerate ethyl alcohol. But amidst the urge to scream in pain, I felt assured.  

The beerus was certainly annihilated.







Saturday, August 15, 2020

TALES FROM THE DAYS OF QUARANTINE 1: THOSE DELIVERY BOYS

 First and foremost, let me get this straight.

Times are hard. And as if I had to remind anyone on this planet living in the year 2020 about it.  Jobs are scarce and even the few ones left are slowly diminishing.  

All it took is a little over four months in this country and businesses have gone kaput.  Rentals continue but there is no money coming in.  Malls that used to be the mammon of commerce have literally turned into caverns so much so that when you talk, you hear an echo (and considering that you are still wearing a mask and a face shield while delivering the utterance).

So because times are hard and nobody prefers to go out of their houses unless necessary, other businesses boomed while others were doomed.  The delivery service is one of them: all these zigzagging weaving men in helmets riding their motorbikes in almost every street in the Metro since the strict lockdowns were implemented.

Well, why not?  The whole idea of commerce has been completely reconstituted with the boom of online sellers peddling everything from industrial quality chainsaws to kakanins like biko, pichi-pichi and kutsinta following Lola's secret recipe.  While disenfranchised workers have resorted to feats of resourcefulness (or survival) --- to selling everything from succulents in pots to kare-kare, lugaw na may tuwalya at bituka, or bopis, the need for the delivery boys is but imminent.  Whether you pay COD or through GCash or bank transfer, you still need Kuya Delivery Boy to bring the goodies right to your doorstep.

And since the quarantine I have practically bought everything edible and imaginable from Facebook Market.

I have ordered the entire spectrum of longganisas produced in the 7000 islands called the Republic of the Philippines.  Whether it is from Vigan, Lucban, Alaminos, Pampanga, Cabanatuan, Cebu, Davao ... name it, I have bought it.  Then there are all sorts of Keto conditioned peanut butter, cheese spreads ... pati na nga tenderloin, ground beef, bacon, chili sauce, four kinds of local vinegar.  Oh, not to mention the air plants, succulents, snake plants ... and my challenging purchase, a four-tiered pinewood plant holder na bitbit ni Kuya Delivery all the way from Imus, Cavite.

Part of the many great lessons I received from these past four months plus-plus is that all these online purchases have completely changed the way we are doing commerce.

In the Age of Social Distancing, the malls will remain like hollow caves where disturbing silence has replaced the cacophony of shoppers or even the sound of credit cards being swiped at the Cashier's counter.  Instead, you get these Delivery Boys who can provide you with enough challenge and sense of adventure and an understanding of the human condition.

Before anything else, there are certain points that should be established.

(1) Hindi madali ang trabaho ni Kuya Delivery Boy.  I do not know exactly how much they earn ... or what manner by which their daily take-home is computed but spending your entire day criss-crossing the cities at a time when exposure to people --- all kinds of people --- can be dangerous because of the pandemic, these guys must endure a lot to keep their wits about and focus on their driving.

(2) Kung sinu-sino ang nakakasalamuha nila. Whether they are the sellers or the customers, Kuya Delivery exposes himself to a great variety of people and they, in turn, are exposed to all sorts of possible conditions.  I feel somewhat queasy having to wear a mask each time I step out of the house and meet Kuya to receive the parcel but then that is part of the protocol.  You assume that he is a virus-carrier inasmuch as he assumes the same with me.  

(3) Hindi ito career, trabaho ito na dala ng masidhing pangangailangan. This is self-explanatory.  Considering the number of businesses that have closed down ... or if they remained open, the level of downsizing that has taken place --- doing a delivery job is not a step down the ladder.  It is keeping your head above the water.  I know of a lot of men (and women) who have joined the delivery service because they need jobs and it looks like there is no light at the end of any tunnel to provide better alternatives in the near future.  Besides, what is really wrong with delivery work? It is an honest job ... and that is all that matters. It provides food on the table.

But ...

There is an entire gamut of experience one gets with Kuya Delivery. I have tried to figure out what it is but (in all honesty) dealing with some of them can be an ultimate test of patience and understanding.  Di nga ba? Times are hard. Kaya let us be a little bit more pasensiyoso and try to understand that theirs is a more stressful situation that for us, the customers, who are just sitting on our derrieres waiting for the deliveries

Yet despite all these considerations, there are still these most trying moments in which you have to simply bite your lower lip as you try to deal with Kuya Driver.  It is not like each and everyone of them was sent to you to pay for some karma.  Some are very good, very smart, very sharp and very polite.  Some even strike an interesting conversation. And then there are the others.  

To make things clearer, here are some scenarios.  These are snatches of conversations over the cellphone when Kuya Driver either sends you a text message or makes a call.

CASE STUDY 1:

ME:            Hello?

KUYA:        S'an ba papunta diyan sa inyo?

ME:             HA?  Sino 'to?

KUYA:        Yung delivery. Taga-_____! S'an ba dadaan papunta dyan, ha?

(Teka, wala kang GPS, Kuya?  Gawain ba akong WAZE?)

ME:        Saan ka ba?

KUYA:   Nandito pa sa Ilaya.

(Gusto mong bigyan kita ng directions from Ilaya to Alabang?!)

Or what about this scenario?


CASE STUDY 2:


KUYA:     Sir, ikaw ba si Joey?

ME:         Ako nga. Who is this please?

KUYA:     Sir Joey, ako po si _____. Yung pipick-up ng binili nyo.

ME:         Ah, OK. May problema?

KUYA:    Sir, ano po ba yung binili nyo?

ME:         Ha?  Bakit? Tela.  Pang-kurtina.

KUYA:    Sir, marami ba?

ME:        (Sincerely confused now) Bakit?

KUYA:    Baka po kasi malaki, hindi magkasiya sa box ko. At saka baka mabigat.

ME:        Twelve yards ang total.

KUYA:    Naku, mahaba yon.

ME:       (Internally cursing) Nakatiklop yon!  Hindi naman ibibigay sa iyo yon na nakaladlad, ano?


Okay,  What about this one?  Again, in my fascination for bed sheets this time. 


CASE STUDY 3:


KUYA:    Sir ... may problema. Saan ba dito yung tindahan?

( Para naman kasing alam ko ang exact location niya sa Planet Earth at para ring alam ko ang pasikot-sikot ng Divisoria!)

ME:        Saan ka na ba?

KUYA:    Dito na sa Ilaya.  Saan ba dito?

ME:         Hanapin mo yung (name of store) diyan ...

KUYA:     Saang pasilyo?

( At this point, humahagulgol na ako sa galit, awa sa sarili at higit sa lahat sa tukso ng tadhana dahil gusto ko lang naman bumili ng tela for bedsheets.)\

Or what about this?

CASE STUDY 4:

ME:    Hello?

KUYA:        Nandito na ako sa labas ng village ... Ano nga ang address mo?

(Exasperated pero pa-cool pa rin.)

ME:        (Gives the address)

KUYA:    Ano ang number?  31?

ME:        Hindi.  21.

KUYA:    Ano nga ang pangalan mo?


Gano'n ang pagkatanong, ha?  Gan'on ka barubal?  As if kainuman ko siya ng Red Horse noong binyag ng kanyang anak kung saan ako ang ninong.

Okey, here is another:


CASE STUDY 5:

I was in my work room, writing when my phone rings.

ME:        Hello?

KUYA:   Sir, nandito na po ako outside.

ME:        OK . I-ring mo yung doorbell.

KUYA:    Saan yung doorbell?

ME:         Eh, di sa may door! Alangan naman sa bubungan!

or a corollary to the same scenario.

ME:        Hello ...

KUYA:   _____ po ito.  Nasa labas na po ako ng bahay nyo.

ME:       Ah, OK.  Sandali ...

KUYA:   May tao ba diyan?

(A moment of silence.)

ME:        Wala.  Kausap mo ang aking kaluluwa.


But this really bakes the proverbial cake.


CASE STUDY 6:

I was standing outside my house because Kuya messaged me that he was already outside my residence but he was not there.

He sends me a text message stating that he could not find the number of my house. So I texted back.

After around then minutes, Kuya arrived feeling exceptionally grouchy.

So I asked.

ME:        Bakit ka naligaw?

(And he answers me in a not so pleasant tone of voice.)

KUYA:     Ang labo naman nitong tirahan ninyo.  Ang hirap hanapin ng mga numbers.  Sabi mo 31 ... umabot ako hanggang dulo, hanggang 72 .... wala namang 31 ... may 32, 34 ...

( Hindi na po ako nakapigil.)

ME:       Eh, kasi nakatingin ka sa kanan ... eh, lahat ng odd numbers nasa kaliwa. Hindi mo talaga mahahanap yung number ng bahay ko.

KUYA:  Kahit na. Ang gulo pa rin.

ME:      Halika. Puntahan natin ang Village Manager. Gusto mong mag-complain?


Then finally this.

CASE STUDY 6:

I open the front door and Kuya's eyes lighten up.

KUYA:     Ay, Direk!!!  Ikaw pala yan, Direk!

ME:          (Smiling)  Ako nga.

KUYA:     Direk, fan po ako. Galing mo talaga, Direk.

ME:          Thank you.

KUYA:      Ano nga uli ang pangalan mo?

ME:          (Controlled pa naman) Direk Joey!

KUYA:     Sabi na nga ba, eh. Direk Joey LAMANGAN!


I rest my case.
















THE PITY CARD

 Actually we should already be used to it.  The so-called Pity Card.

Every other time somebody of prominence or warranting media value is caught red handed with his or her shenanigans, he or she deals out her pity card.

What is the Pity Card?  Oh, bring out the wheelchair.  Look shriveled, disheveled, discombobulated.  Flash those tearful eyes for the cameras to see and for the public to consume.  In other words, go for public sympathy by feigning failing health ... or let's try the utang na loob trope by making people feel guilty that they are treating you so badly whereas you only wanted to help or you were trying your very best.

It is all about pricking the Filipino's preoccupation for konsiyensiya. Going hand in hand with that is pagpapatawad or the more casual hayaan mo na lang or a choice between Ipaubaya mo na kay Lord or Bahala na si Batman.

Well, reality check:  Sobrang busy na ni Lord sa dami ng problema ng mundo to pay attention to just another textbook corrupt/ambitious/careless/stupid official who has bungled it up and get caught with his or her hands in the cookie jar.  Or worse, Bruce Wayne has also been badly hit by the pandemic to give an eff about the consequences of our unconditional capacity to forgive.

Isa pa yan. I am sorry (said better than the last time those three words were spoken while addressing the nation after --- again --- getting caught) but I am not a fan of the whole forgive and forget kind of philosophy.  Sige, I will forgive you but do you think I will forget?  Will I ever shove the very thought that you tried or even ripped me off, lied to my face and given me all the reasons to lose all my trust in you?  Fat chance.

And please don't give me that sort of crap reminding me that even the Lord Jesus was able to forgive ... and how can I be so tough, mean and unrelenting?  I agree but you see Christ was the Son of God and I am not: I grew up in Pasay City, learned my street smarts in F.B. Harrison Street and Libertad.  How can I just forgive and ... oh, yes, move on ... when there is no closure to whatever wrongdoing has been done not only to me but to a lot of people? Even the whole nation?  

That, I believe, is not being Christian-like.  That is called being an imbecile.

Fool me once: shame on you.  Fool me twice: shame on me.  Fool me three times --- and I have no shame.

You can only forgive someone who has actually repented for his/her wrongdoing/shortcomings ... not someone who merely says so.  

The three words I am sorry is as cheap as I love you nowadays: they cannot be vouched for sincerity especially when muttered post-0rgasm.  

Or worse are those who are not even sorry at all, stricken by such epic proportions of pride to think that they do not owe anyone any apologies because they sincerely believe they have done nothing wrong.  And you ask me to forgive and forget and to move on?  

I cannot stand the Pity Card but I understand why it is so mabenta with Pinoys.

What with our love for telenovelas where the inaapi is the trump card of the bida and pagtitiis and pagmamalasakit are the pre-requisites to greatness?

Undeniably, we love the sight of people suffering because it makes us feel good to feel so kind.  There is almost an act of redemption on our parts every time we are nagpapatawad because it boosts the assumed nobility in our spirit as well as the plus points we earn in the scoreboard in heaven.  But it cannot and should not be that reductive.

I cringe each time some manipulative public figure  goes in front of the cameras in a foray of interviews using that pakawawa and pahumble look with matching nagigilid ang luha sa mga mata to plead for his or her case.  I almost find it laughable each time somebody accused of a crime or misdemeanor suddenly announces (complete with drumroll) that he or she is actually very ill, on the verge of death or only has a few days to live.

"Ladies and gentlemen ... may cancer po siya."

(Gasp! Goes the audience.  Karma, screams others.  Kawawa naman siya, muttered a number ang T--g ina mo! exclaimed an even bigger number.)

Roll out the wheelchairs, Folks.  Wheelchairs have not only become the accessories of the invalid ... but the mode of transportation of the cancelled.

How convenient it is to be rolled out in front of photographers, looking limp as an overcooked frankfurter on a wheelchair (perhaps attached to some medical contraption like a dextrose bottle) and to be caught in a crossfire of video cameras for the world to see. Kawawa naman me is the subtitle right under this deliberately pathetic image of a man who just happened to have stolen millions and billions. 

And with this fleeting image, our conscience has again be challenged to the limits of our Catholic conditioning. How heartless can we be indicting a man suffering, fighting for his life ... and perhaps clinging onto his last days on earth?  How can we even think ill of somebody all suffering ... to make him suffer all the more by our accusations, our vindications?

How can we even demand justice when justice is already served by a seeming punishment sent by the Lord?  Or so we are made to believe.  Or so we are conditioned to respond in a typical mapagpatawad and maka-Diyos na Filipino.

One thing about being Pinoy is that we have the span of memory of a mayfly.

Regardless of how ngitngit we are with  indignation, bring in the next scandal ... and we conveniently shove aside to the back burner and then eventually the dirty kitchen together with all the issues we deemed as so important because of the vulgarity of corruption and media manipulation.  And regardless of how mad we are at the moment, the next diversion will provide us enough reason to go into our self-inflicted amnesia and move on to the next highlight of the media circus.

In the meantime, it is our addiction to the martyrs of the world, all the suffering Pinoy telenovela heroines who equate nobility and greatness with resilience, patience, tolerance ... and yes, subservience.  We equate suffering with the key to the Kingdom of God ... inasmuch as our preoccupation of Romantic Agony almost makes us attracted to masochism.

So regardless of closure or demand for retribution, we simply shrug and say, Ipaubaya na natin kay Lord or Makakarma rin siya or worse, Bahala na si Bruce Wayne. That way we feel ennobled. Or maybe just forgetful, dismissive, defensively apathetic.

We love exercising pity because it makes us feel so good even if the whole point of the exercise is to make us all look stupid.

I am sorry.

I cannot take pity on anybody who I know is bullshitting me or swindling the nation ... regardless of alleged failing conditions of health or capacity to cry on cue in front of the TV camera.  I mean, that is so predictable: to cry sick ... or simply to cry when you can't get out of the hole you found yourself entrapped.

I still prefer justice, retribution and/or dismissal.

Postscript:


When issues have either been resolved or forgotten, by some miracle from the heavens, the afflicted individual suddenly becomes cured --- and the crying ladies go back to shaking their booties and partying.  It is much easier for them to move on --- especially if they made idiots out of all of us forgiving God-fearing people.






Tuesday, August 4, 2020

THE DAY OF THE OSTRICH

Putragis, I tell you!

What's happening to the Philippines ba, OK?

Just a few days ago, desperately trying to beat the rush of the MECQ when I am still allowed to take my thirty minute senior citizen walk around my gated village (Emphasis on GATED) for reasons of health and Vitamin D (Emphasis on HEALTH), I tell you ... I saw a squirrel.

Whatda---?! May squirrel?!  In Cupang, Muntinlupa?

I thought these rodents only existed where chestnuts roast in the open fire and where Jack Frost nips you at the nose.  

My mistake.  

A rat is a rat is a rat, bushy tailed or not.  They do not require four seasons.  When I told one of my friends about this, she who thinks that wearing Gap is beneath her stature said, "Really?  There are squirrels in ... Muntinlupa? I always thought they can only be found in Forbes Park."

Ah, there.  Theory explained.  Squirrels can only live in the tropics if they are in GATED villages. 

In other words, it is almost close to impossible to find squirrels in say ... Kamuning or Malibay or Cubao.  Kasi nga there are not much trees in those places not to mention that Kamuning is a hot spot for COVID19 and not that squirrels are susceptible to the buwisit na virus.  

Or are they?  I am not sure with my limited nine units of Science in college if bats also belong to the rodent family.  But then again, bats still look rats with wings, right? Whatever. Hintayin ko na lang yung vaccine from China before I theorize again.

Which leads me to the point that made me return to blogging after more than a month.

Today, the fourth of August 2020, is an extraordinary day.  

And I am not even taking into consideration the DOH-certified fact that --- wow, oh, wow --- we have more than six thousand three hundred newly record COVID19 cases just this day alone. Iba talaga tayo. Humanda ka, India. Top grosser na kami sa Southeast Asia ... but we will not be happy with just that trivial regional record.  We dream of being the top of the list when it comes to all the nations and even continents East of Trumpland.  Putsa, Pinoy Pride, Dude.  Today Asia, tomorrow the world.

While Thailand and Vietnam are back to enjoying their Tom Yum and Pho Hoa, we Pinoys are busy panic buying as we revert to MECQ as if the day after tomorrow is the end of the world or the series Probinsiyano.  It is as if we never experienced MECQ to realize that groceries and palengkes will not close ... and that the color of money will still be the same two weeks later.  Pero, we Pinoys make panicking a national past time, di ba?

And I am not also thinking of the latest scandal involving PhilHealth or why I need to convince some of my friends of a different partisan persuasion that dipping their disposable face masks in a can of gasoline will not make them reusable. I had to subtly, carefully and politically correctly tell them that even if an unleaded gasoline soaked face mask can certain keep the COVID away, wearing one for more than five minutes and sniffing all that petrol may provide another route to bring them back to the waiting arms of Jesus.  And please keep away for more than one meter from anyone who is lighting a cigarette, ha?

So what makes today exciting and extraordinary.

Because an ostrich made such a fuss among the netizens. 

That Big Bird got more publicity and attention than the return of the Queen of All Media to television or the travails of  Liza Dino in the FDCP.  Can you imagine that?  

You know that times are really weird when people are more excited about this giant bird running down the streets of a Quezon City subdivision (read: GATED VILLAGE) and creating such a havoc in the internet than the number of pandemic victims in the country ... or that she is finally returning to television with her own TV show after almost four years of absence.  What's wrong with us people, ha?

I mean ... onli in da Pilipins, right?  

Only here in our beloved republic do we have people actually keeping this ... exotic bird as a pet.  Right in the heart of the city. 

Said owner could have kept ducks, geese, fighting cocks, love birds, parrots ... but they had to have the ostrich.  I am still figuring out why: of course anyone can claim an ostrich as a pet but in a middle class village in the City of Stars?  Alam ba ito ni Joy Belmonte?

 And I dare ask, did the neighbors known that next door ... somebody is actually keeping these giant birds as pets?

"Mama, Mama ... ano yung ulo na sumisilip sa bakod ng neighbor natin?"

"Nakasampa sa bakod?"

"Hindi. Sumisilip lang ... malaki ang mata, mahaba ang leeg, kalbo."

"Ha?"

"Oo, Mama ... malaki ang mga mata at mahaba ang leeg at  ..."

"Anak,  tapatin mo nga ako. Grade Three ka pa lang ... ano na ang tinitira mo?  Bigay ba sa yo ng iyong Kuya?"

What I found extremely exciting were the videos of that poor creature running down the otherwise everyday street and with people literally freaking out at the mere sight of the unimaginable coming to life.  

I mean how would you feel if you are plantito watering your plants and an ostrich passed by?

"Mama, Mama ... may malaking ibon sa labas!"

"Lintek na! Bakit ka tumingin?!  Ang bata-bata mo pa kung anu-ano nang kabastusan ang nakikita mo."

Like that.

Or even that classic line overheard in the actual video: "Hindi naman lumilipad ang ibon na yan, di ba?"

'Teh, pag lumipad yan ... End of Days na talaga. Pramis.

Of course the more au courant expressed such fashionable shock upon sight of the video by saying, "Somebody played Jumanji." 

And the less informed retorted: "Jumanji? What dat? Kasama si Kim Chiu?"

But the more knee jerk reaction from the Everyday Folk goes, " T--g ina!  Ang laki! Puwede bang iadobo yan?" 

Somehow after four months of quarantine, you no longer know what is real.  

You suffer from a variation of the Stockholm Syndrome even if you are staying in a Gated Village to think that you are seeing African Wild birds traversing down Tomas Morato to order a cup of Starbucks.

So we had out excitement for the day.  The best part of that whole trope was when the Ostrich reached the guard house of the gated village and the security put down the barrier to stop the creature from exiting kasi wala raw ID.

We all imagined the dialogue taking place as this was happening.

GUARD:  'Day, quarantine pass mo?

BIRD:  Ay, sorry, Kuya ... naiwan ko sa balai.

As the bird nervously turned around to trace back his beleaguered path home.

Onli in da Pilipins, I tell you.

PS:  Later on, the Big Bird was wrestled down to a hammer lock by two of the Kagawads.  Yup, the humans won.









 

Monday, June 29, 2020

DAY 105: MECQ


There is that saying that goes: The road to hell is lined with good intentions.  That is assuming that the intentions are really for the good of a greater number and not that of the one who drew the map.

The Other Side of the Pandemic

Perhaps as bad as the growing number of deaths brought about by this pandemic is the economic meltdown that the world is experiencing.  The dead are buried but the survivors live with the burden of a planet that has gone completely upside down.  Businesses are collapsing: governments are scrambling to find ways and means to bring the economy back to life or try to resuscitate what is left of the commercial debris.

A recent survey in the country showed that the workers of the Arts and Entertainment are the most badly hit by the closure of work resulting from COVID19.

Understandably so.  

For more than three months, work in the film, television and the rest of the entertainment industry came to a sudden halt as a precaution against the spread of the dreaded virus. There is something unique about this industry because it requires crowds.  You need more than a hundred people for a single day of shooting a film, perhaps even more for taping an episode of a prime time telenovela.  You need as many folks on the set to shoot a TV commercial or a digital content material --- maybe a little less but still a lot to mount a concert or stage play.  

And God knows how many people are needed for a live event to launch a product, celebrate a company anniversary or hold a convention. 
Needless to add, you even need more people to fill a cinema, a theater, a concert venue or the SMEX or the MOA Auditorium or wherever it is you choose to hold your concert.

All that froze mid-March because being with strangers had become dangerous. Not only dangerous --- but life threatening.

Literally thousands of people lost their work and have not gone back to the set despite the loosening of the quarantine rules because everything is still touch and go.  Everyone is waiting to see if things will go right or what can go wrong. The question remains: "Safe na ba to go back to work?"

Well, the question is not only that. The answer is people need to go back to work despite the clear and present risks involved. Hindi pa talagang safe ... but we have to make it as safe as possible.

Yes, we have to deal with the New Normal: the working conditions in mid-2020 has become so completely different from that of the first quarter of the year.  To insure the safety of all workers concerned, protocols have to be studied, agreed upon and eventually implemented not only on the set but especially in the preparation for productions. 

And this costs money.

As it is, producers and film workers are fighting against time to find the most plausible way to get back on the set despite the fact that it is still not sure when cinemas will be allowed to open ... or if people will have the courage to immediately return to movie houses even if there is social distancing but with no vaccine discovered.

TV shows need to return to the studios with strict new rules in place to make sure that everyone is guaranteed a plausible amount of health security.  

More than ever, the film studios as well as the production houses, the freelance workers whose very lifeline is the availability of projects and all the technicians who constitute the film and tv industries need the help of the government to be able to get their acts together.  At this point, the industry does not --- I repeat --- does not and should not be burdened by needless obstacles in its fight for survival.  

The Inter Guild Alliance

Because of the pressure of having to come up with guidelines for the Return to Work Scenario, the active workers of the industry --- they who have become the new generation of creative workers of both commercial and independent film making --- got together to form the Inter Guild Alliance (IGA). The sole purpose was to set down the procedures and rules to standardize safety measures on the sets of film, tv and commercials.  

The creation of the group was organic --- because the industry workers decided that they should be the ones to move in order to give momentum to the return of productions. If there was one good thing that the pandemic brought to the industry, then it was giving an opportunity for this generation of film artists and technicians to unite, talk and share a commonness of purpose and hopefully of vision and goal.

The IGA belabored its own set of protocols focusing on their individual specializations.  

That is, production designers made their own rules, cinematographers set their own standards, assistant directors, editors, directors and sound engineers worked on their own protocols then got together to revise and adapt to each other's needs.

While the protocols were being formulated, the IGA together with the Philippine Motion Pictures Producers Association (PMPPA) met to further refine and exchange ideas about how to make the IGA Protocol workable within the constraints of production budgets. This made a lot of sense: the producers were the money bags and it was from their coffers that projects are conceived and born.

The producers and the IGA came to a mutual agreement: what the workers suggested, the producers wanted.  

The IGA Protocol is the industry standard. This is because it was crafted by the industry workers for the well-being of those in the industry.

At this point, it was made very clear that while the IGA was finalizing the protocol, the PMPPA already threw in its support stating that this will be the guide followed by movie producers when shootings resume within the COVID19 quarantine period.

Television networks have already put together their own guidelines for the resumption of taping.  This is because the demands of a tv taping is very different from that of a movie shooting.

Commercial productions also have also assembled their own protocol for the making of digital content and other endeavors.

Then came this thing called the FDCP.  

The FDCP Factor

Aware that the IGA was already assembling its protocol because of their earlier talks, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) carried out its own independent plans.  

After having met with representative workers in a number of sessions, this office drew up its own protocols then announced that this should be the guidelines to be followed. 

This announcement pre-empted the release of the guidelines still being fine tuned by the IGA. 

The release of the office's protocols days before the scheduled publication of the IGA counterpart left a very bad taste in the mouth considering that the IGA was in contact with the FDCP.

The premature announcement generated tension between the industry and the office that is meant to support film productions because there was an apparent clash of interests.  

Whereas everybody threw in their support for the IGA Document, FDCP insisted --- by virtue of its government affiliation --- that they should be the ones to be followed and nobody else. 

An open line of communication remained between all parties concerned with the PMPPA insisting that the more realistic and effective protocols were the ones prepared by the actual workers of the industry and not those prescribed by a government office with possibly little experience in on-the-set situations and problems.  Such information can never be acquired through the so-called token consultations much less by synthesizing protocols from the U.S., Europe and other Asian countries.

The PMPPA reiterated: it was following the IGA procedures and not that issued by the FDCP.

It was the insistence of FDCP that they should be ones followed that generated further aggravation and distrust from the part of the industry with that office. Despite all requests for reconsideration, the FDCP held its ground and reminded everyone that their protocol was the officially recognized procedure by the government.

Without any further consultation or communication, FDCP linked with the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Labor (DOLE) to come up with a Joint Order Agreement (JOA) emphasizing the FDCP protocol as the one and only official guideline for the back to work procedure not only for films but for the audio visual industry.

The same protocol was to be followed by movies, television, live concerts and events, commercial shoots and even theater.  

Anyone who has any familiarity with these platforms would know that there is no way you can use the safety procedures for films with that of theater ... more so with a concert.  But then that was only one of the rather laughable matters that made people not take this hastily put together regulation seriously.

The final pint of fuel to agitate the fire was the release of the FDCP Advisory 06 late Sunday afternoon.

The advisory was directed to everyone.  The Advisory reminded all sectors that they are now answerable to FDCP and that all productions must register their projects with their office seven days before actual shooting. 

This even includes events and productions without audiences or even panel discussions recorded and posted in social media platforms. Does that mean that even Facebook Live panel discussions and vloggers must line up outside their offices to register their proposed broadcasts? Wow, ha?

All these are said to be done in the name of insuring the safety of the workers, so it is said.  But as to why every media activity should be logged in an office like the FDCP is one of the great mysteries of the twenty-first century comparable to the puzzle of the Bermuda Triangle.

The bonfire of vanities has been lit and the fire reached out to the sky by Sunday evening.

How will this work out if the networks already have set their own safety policies and procedures, the commercial productions have already designed their own set of rules and the movie studios were endorsing the IGA's work? 

What came about was more confusion as to who follows what.  This is the last problem people wanted because they would rather focus on going back to work than wondering which rules to follow.

The Questions

Returning to the first statement of this blog, the road to hell is indeed lined with good intentions.  Perhaps the intentions are good but the timing and the rendition are not only bad: they are cataclysmic.

When an industry is literally flat on its back on the ground and trying to get up, you do not step over it and say "you follow what I say." 

An important measure of effective leadership is the ability or even the capacity to listen to the constituents to find out what they feel and need. Shutting one's faculties to these important data is tantamount not to leadership but to other terms which are unsavory and synonymous to "un-democratic." Maybe even "Imeldific."

Now what has become of paramount importance is knowing the exact mandate of the FDCP --- why it is still there and why it was created close to two decades ago.  

The principal proponents from the industry were the late Marilou Diaz-Abaya and Laurice Guillen, who battled it out with Congress to create the council meant for two distinct purposes: (a) to supervise the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) that would assess quality Filipino films to be rewarded with tax incentives and (b) provide developmental projects and programs to upgrade the artistic and technical quality of Filipino film making and help market local films abroad through international film festivals, markets and other opportunities for a wider exposure.

Laurice Guillen was the first chairman of the FDCP when it was established.

To this day, the Council is headed by a Chairman and comprised of (a) the President of the Film Academy of the Philippines  (b) The President of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (or his representative)  (c) The Secretary of the Department of Education (or his representative) (d) The Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (or his representative) (e) The Chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority (or his representative)  (f) The Chairman of the Cinema Committee of the National Commission of Cultural and Arts (g) The President of the League of Mayors (or his representative) (h) A representative from a recognized group of film workers  (i) A representative of a recognized group of film producers and (j) a representative from the Academe.

These are all presidential appointees even if the FDCP is under the supervision of the Department of Education.  The present status of the council is that it has no representative from film workers as well as no representative from the producers. Today, there are only eight members in the Council.

All projects and endeavors of the FDCP are not the pursuits of the Chairman alone but the council that empowers the one who holds the position to plan and implement these activities. The members of the council are also accountable to what they approve or disapprove as far as the activities of the office.

Repeatedly it is underlined that the FDCP is and should be the operational function of a council. 

As illustrated by the choice of membership of the council that should approve its policies and programs, the FDCP was designed to supplement the growth of industry standards and facilitate its positioning in the international market which is why the NCCA and the CCP are there ... and so are the mayors and the MMDA.  

The council is about promoting films not legislating policies involving films.

Never was it meant to intervene with labor practices, issuance of permits or requiring registration. It should not even intervene with the operation of the various guilds and their activities.  That is the territory of the Film Academy of the Philippines ... not the FDCP.

In its present mandate, the FDCP was created for purposes of supporting the industry through developmental pursuits and has no regulatory power whatsoever to make demands that would point to the monitoring of industries owned and operated by the private sector.

When the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) was abolished by a ruling of the Supreme Court, the FDCP lost half of what it was supposed to tend.  The only job left was to sell the country in international festivals and to bring opportunities for the Filipino filmmakers to be exposed to the world market. But with travel restrictions brought about by COVID19 --- uhm, all the international film festivals went online and there was not much travelling to do.

So what to do ... what to do?

Now the FDCP is proposing an expansion of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR.

This is to include a much greater extent of power and territory.  This would validate the inclusion of other audio visual industries like television, commercial productions, live events and theater.  Because as it is ... the FDCP should be working only for the F --- and that is FILM and not FOR EVERYTHING.

As to how the rest of the "audio visual industry" suddenly fell under the umbrella of FDCP, that is a different story all together.  Just blame this as part of the confusion brought about by the pandemic.

And come to think of it, this pandemic has actually opened a lot of gates from which people can benefit from the confusion. Hindi ba?

The Sadness of it All

There is the good news and the bad news.

The bad news is that all trust has been lost between a number of film industry sectors with that of the FDCP.  The goodwill that seemed to have existed before between the industry and the FDCP seemed to have evaporated and turned into steam.

After a series of debacles which started with the JMCm the trust was already lost.  

The JMC involves the safeguard of film workers on the set which was signed, sealed and delivered without adequate consultation with one of the important stakeholders: the producers.

The JMC was passed and published with producers caught by surprise by the inclusion of so many items which were perceived as impractical.  More than that, these addenda bloated the budgets of productions.  Even before the lock down, everyone in the business knew that the numbers being brought in at the box office were already dismal. Any added cost would further cripple productions.

The safety of people on the set is a concern for everybody.  There is nothing wrong with that --- and to find ways of further professionalizing the industry should be encouraged. But consultations are imperatives: policies cannot be made like pulling rabbits out of hats.  People affected by policies should be told and conversations, discussions even arguments should be allowed to be able to ventilate apprehensions and clarify issues.

After a meeting in late February with producers at Annabel's Restaurant in Tomas Morato reacting to the JMC, FDCP promised to review the material and accommodate necessary changes as suggested by producers. It was agreed that suggestions must not compromise the original intent of the proposal.  

Yet sometime late March during the lock down in a zoom meeting with the PMPPA, the JMC still remained in its because FDCP categorically stated that it was already a done deal. Of course, this statement created a major lesion between the PMPPA and that office. What was that promise to wait for the revisions, blah, blah, blah ... so that the producers can throw in their inputs?  What was that February meeting for? To savor the lugaw and tokwa't baboy served over merienda?

Well, it is true. By the time the producers reacted, the JMC had already been published so you really cannot do any revisions. So take it: that seems to be the modus operandi --- You have no choice because we have decided.

Then came the protocol and now this Joint Order Agreement (JOA) between the FDCP and the two government departments.  

Yes, it has reached a point that dialogue is no longer an alternative because it is easier for a biologically deaf person to listen than one who simply chooses not to hear.  There is nothing more tiring and frustrating than an exercise in futility.

With the issuance of the advisory late yesterday, even those who wanted to give people the benefit of a doubt or another chance were convinced as to what direction this narrative was going. 

That is what is most painful.

It is not going to make life any easier for any of us working in films. Or television. Or commercials. 

Now there is another bureaucratic layer where every project must first pass through the office of the FDCP.

And we still ask more than twenty-four hours later: Bakit?

Personally, I am more saddened than angered by the turn of events.

I am saddened because of the total loss of trust and respect for certain persons who I once thought had the best intentions for the industry that I love and given my life. I actually feel so stupid even believing them in the first place.

People can and will disappoint but it is hard to even feign civility when trust has been so diminished from those who you once thought were worth your time and effort. And, yes, respect.

You blame yourself for being too trusting while at the same time you hold back all the self-blame to avoid being completely cynical.

At this point, we in the film industry only want to get back to work. 

 Any form of added bureaucratic process imposed on any of the sectors of our business becomes such an intolerable burden. This is even harder to accept because this comes from an institution you once hoped would provide the crutches for our damaged industry in these most trying times in recent history.

We do not need messiahs of whatever form --- but we want to rise with our own hard work and determination and together.  

For this is the only way we can survive this economic meltdown brought by the pandemic  --- by being united and determined to go against all odds. 

Now that is the good news.  

The Industry is coming together as one --- as we are beginning to see the importance of watching each other's backs. We only hope this experience facilitates all the stakeholders to see how each and everyone of us is as important --- no, more important than any institution --- if we want to validate our dignity as an industry.

For each day when you find that your production manager is now selling kare-kare and tokwa't baboy on line --- or that your location manager has become a delivery boy plying the streets of Manila on his bike to keep his family alive, or that your Utility Boys are literally walking the streets trying to find any temporary employment to get them through the day ... you are stabbed in the heart.  

When you hear all the horror stories of your co-workers scrimping in order to stretch their remaining savings until there is work available ... you realize one thing: you do not need anybody making it harder for you and your brothers to rise up and get back on our feet.

You simply shove these obstacles aside and say, "We are the industry.  We will do it our way."