OpinionsNeedles in a StackWhat’s up with Filipino TV?

What’s up with Filipino TV?

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I’ve been living here in Dumaguete for almost two years now, and frankly, I have yet to see a Filipino TV show that can actually entice me to watch it without boredom or anger. Either you watch news that tends to scare the heck out of every citizen, or a variety show of some kind (I call them halo-halo shows) that mostly exploit those who are desperate to be laughed at on national television, or drama shows that torture the emotional instability of every romantic.

Now, I like gossip stories as the next gal. But, are there any substantial Filipino local shows that encourage viewers to think, be challenged and or inspired without sentimentality? Please, give me some substance alongside the silliness.

Yes, there are few local TV shows that create a serious forum of some sort, which allows the public to participate both in the studio and in the comfort of their living room. Here in Dumaguete, Silliman U. has a channel that actually shows a programs featuring significant discussion not only relating to student affairs but also general social concerns. What’s nice about this program is that it gives various points of view from different people, young and old, professionals and students. I believe that the public is hungry for solutions and alternatives, instead of just insipid rhetoric that we all recognize as meaningless.

Let’s take the television news in this country for instance. Yes, they report the news with a certain amount of added sensationalism (which seems to be the norm nowadays — even CNN does the same). The question is, what is newsworthy aside from the drama of gory pictures and details of some murder, or rumor mongering about some celebrity’s vapid life. The news being reported is so stylized, creating dramatic effects, trying to sell a story and to capture the audience’s attention. It’s very rare to hear local television news that actually deal in substance and provide something from which people can actually learn.

How about those variety shows that run for three-hour marathons? What exactly is the point of these shows? Is it to entertain the public by humiliating the participants on national television, forcing them to try to gain sympathy from the viewers through personal revelations? What exactly are we suppose to learn from this? I say nothing, but I’m sure many will disagree with me. They will say that the show makes them laugh and forget their worries. Perhaps it does, but then what? After the show is over, have people actually learned from it?

Worse are the “soap operas” or the “dramas” that are being shown during the day and in the evenings. Are they really entertaining? Where is the originality? Where is the uniqueness? Is there actually a demand for these kinds of shows from the public? Maybe I’m totally alone and off base in my view. But I say, if there are better alternatives, perhaps at some point it will create a buzz and hopefully get the audience to demand better TV programming.

If the purpose of art is “to delight and to instruct” as Horace wrote, and since television at its best is an art form, should we at least come up with programs that not only can entertain but also teach us how to think and can inspire the soul?

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