FRONTLINE by Dr. Armin Santos. PhD
In the light of the devastation of the strongest typhoon of the century, hordes of foreign correspondents descended upon hapless, unfortunate, and disaster ravaged islands of ours.
While they are motivated to report the news as it happens, they should respect the culture, tradition and political sensibilities of Filipinos. They must respect our use of third person as a form of respect and referrence to the situation with “vague euphemisms”.
We are never frankly direct. We will say that a person is “ugly” lest we ran into serious trouble. What we say is “not so beautiful” but more often than not we try to look for a redeeming quality. Fair skinned (maputi), mabait (kind) industrious (masipag) and other positive qualities to substitute or balance utter lack of physical beauty. The Filipino would see the positive qualities of a person. We do not dwell on the negative but on the positive side of a thing.
In journalism, to dwell on the positive is a return to “developmental journalism” very much vogue during martial law when press freedom was muzzled and Marcos expects “praises and paeans” journalism. That is why when a few journalists got national attention by printing small, annoying tabloids (yes, PDI started that way) “mosquito journalism” was born.
But you see this type of critical journalism was what was the need at that time. In schools of journalism generations of writers were taught to be anti-establishment or anti-government. I was schooled in that school of thought.
Of course, I started as a provincial correspondent. At that time a province have only three, four at most. We were an elite bunch as not just about anybody could make it in the national media. The rest cut their teeth writing in small town newspapers which I recall are not as glamorous as nationally-circulated ones but are effective nonetheless in purveying information and the truth, although not necessarily in that order.
But the foreign media who parachuted into our political-cultural milieu is a different thing altogether. It is very uncomfortable indeed for foreign correspondents to be critical of the way things are being ran and how the national government is conducting its business.
It’s not the business of these foreign correspondents to question how things are being done here to the point of being bossy and being superior first world denizens juxtaposed in the frail, inferior, and mediocre third world creatures.
Having the strongest storm of the century do not give these foreign press the right to intervene at how we ran our government. How dare Amanpour or Anderson to call our government or our President inefficient and incompetent? It’s bad enough that our own people are blaming the government for their sorry lot, let alone these caucasian journalist.
If Amanpour is disrespectful to Obama or Anderson to Queen Elizabeth that is perfectly alright as they are citizens or subjects of those nations, but by golly, not our President. They are guests here and they should abuse our hospitality by comparing their government to ours or for Anderson to dispute Korina’s reportage. It is as if its not only our government that’s incompetent in doing its job, but Philippine media as well.
Just because foreign governments extended help to us makes the country and its government open season for criticism. These are extraordinary times. There is failure on the part of government to function and respond to exigencies. There is breakdown of law and order. The public utility is non-existent. Relief goods are not reaching the people as fast as it should and more.
Yes indeed, government has been hard pressed to respond to exigencies efficiently, but I think that our people, and Philippine media, are competent enough to criticize our government for its inadequacies. We do not need Christine Amanpour or Anderson Cooper putting down our government and PNoy. We Filipinos are perfectly capable of doing that.
I am sharing this comment posted on the CNN Site – “Time to get to know the Filipino people – unbelievably resilient, long suffering, good-natured, overly friendly, loyal, ingenious, and a bunch of survivors. At the end of the day, the Filipinos will just shake off the dirt from their clothes and go about their business – and smile. They do not complain much; they will bear as long as they can. Maybe this is why they were given the ‘privilege’ of bearing the burden of the strongest typhoon ever recorded! The indomitable human spirit at its finest!”
It’s time to be proud of being a Filipino!