• Staying the course and keeping the curse



    SOME unsolicited advice for award-winning Brillante Mendoza:

    First and foremost, I salute you, sir, for bringing honor to the country’s film industry with your exemplary creations that bestowed borderless recognition of Filipino genius in filmmaking. I also admire your selfless dedication to an art that very few souls will grab as a morsel to bite in their lifetime. I know that you meant well by accepting the challenge to direct an event like the State of the Nation Address. But lest we forget, it was an “event coverage” and may take another point of view in the eyes of the television industry.

    I know that you wanted to project a story of the President’s first year in the most ‘humanly’ way possible but I could be wrong as you are the master of your own craft. Sorry, sir, but it is not “your” version of the story, nor is it “President Digong’s.” It is about the story of a nation that would want to see the report of its Chief Executive after one year. It is a narrative of his performance and pitfalls and his revelation of what he will do in the incoming year. It is about a presentation of a would-be historical page in our nation’s annals.

    Having been a television director myself for a good part of my humble lifetime, I have found that directorial assignments require different treatments, much like acting in different roles. Be it a news program, an election coverage, the pageantry of Independence Day, beauty competitions, documentaries, or even awards ceremonies—it takes a meticulous study of the whole structure packaged to impart to the viewers the main message, in this case, the President’s Report Card to the nation, plain and simple. That is why SONAS of other countries did not require the services of geniuses like Spielberg, Coppola, Polanski or Kubrick.

    Tentative components of the speeches are usually distributed in advance for our study so that we can weave together and align or stitch other production tools like lights, camera placements and visual perspectives with sound control to give a just and simplified coverage of the event without losing the main message. I remember that during my time, I just used three cameras and one backpack in most events. And tried my best to make it look like I had 15.

    Pores, extreme close-ups, eye and hand movements or drone-like portrayal from the top of speaker’s body maybe good for Jason Bourne, Consigliere Tom Hagen’s doubtful smirk, or Forrest Gump’s stupid looks but not for a President trying his best to come up with a list of what he did after one year.

    Yes, sir, we are grateful and fortunate to have you at the helm but please bear in mind that the job calls for simple realities and not a world of make-believe.

    From a has-been-no-name news and public affairs director who always rave at your film creations. Salamat po.

    * * *

    Contrary to critics’ claims that PRRD’s speech was lackluster in substance, I think these PRRD lines hit the mark during SONA 2017:

    “The protection of the environment must be made a priority ahead of mining and all other activities that adversely affect one way or another. And this policy is non-negotiable.”

    On insurgency: “Sabi nila doon, bully daw ako. Talagang bully ako especially to the enemies of the state.”

    On Kadamay: “May project ngayon, gusto na naman nilang kuhanin. Do not commit that mistake. Here and now, I will tell you, including the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines: You do anarchy, I will order the soldiers and the police to shoot. Even if I have to bury thousands of Filipinos. Huwag ninyo akong ganunin.”

    On CPP/NDF/NPA’s negative view of martial law: “Do you think that if the IS prevails in this country that you will have a place in their society? You must be awfully stupid, as stupid. Wala kayong makuha. Lahat tayo damay.”

    On procurement: “Itong TRO has been the bane of projects. I’m asking Congress, find me a law na kung may bidding naman at it was regular, dapat ang korte or somebody else should not be messing it up…

    The Congress and tayo sa gobyerno, including the judges and justices, should understand that by this time, ‘yung lowest bid, ‘yun ang nagpo-promote ng graft and corruption sa ating bayan.”

    On women’s rights: “I would like to reiterate my personal and this administration’s commitment to fully implement the Magna Carta of Women to the barangay level.”

    On work ethic: “Eat your lunch in office so you can work immediately.”

    On public service: “We also need to put an end to squabbles and bickering within agencies [and]focus fully on the speedy provision of quality public services to our people.”

    On traffic woes: “I am directing the MMDA and the LGUs of Metro Manila, as well as the LGUs of Metro Cebu and of all our regional centers, to ensure the free flow of traffic, and immediately clear our roads and thoroughfares of all unnecessary obstruction, including vehicles parked on the streets and barriers [not]sanctioned by the government, and penalize all traffic obstructionists regardless of stature.”

    “A chain is no stronger than its weakest link. The chain that binds us together as a nation must find strength, innate traits firming up our resolve to break free from the bondage of foreign dominance and political decadence.”

    “Look beyond your biases, your prejudices, your ambition and your political agenda. The search for change will begin and end only when we look into ourselves and find within.”

    “It is during trying times and troubled events that the resilience, perseverance and determination of the people are tested. The Filipino is no stranger or neophyte to situations like the one we face today. We can, and we will, overcome as we did countless times in the past, (but) only if we work together towards a common goal.”

    * * *

    News: Duterte not welcome in the United States – US lawmaker. Who said he is going?

    * * *

    Twelve European Union lawmakers visited Sen. Leila de Lima at the Philippine National Police detention center last week to make sure she was being treated well in the lockup. They said the purpose of the visit was to express their concern as parliamentarians in Europe about the case of De Lima and also their concern about human rights.

    Of course, they did not bother to visit the slain policemen in Mindoro Oriental or condemn the ambush of PSG personnel. They are probably not entitled to their version of “human rights.”

    * * *

    One of the most surprising act of President Digong was not during the SONA. Against the advice of his security staff, he faced the protesters outside the Batasan and tried to converse with the leftist groups. As imperfect as he is to some, he is the first President who showed raw courage to face his accusers within striking distance.

    Good work, good deeds and good faith to all.


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