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Should the media be more inclusive with non-elites?

As the elections near, the quest for finding the viable and befitting candidate has frequently materialized in front of our eyes and breathed down our necks in anticipation. Who are we really pursuing our vote for if there are popularity contests involved?

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Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

It’s the unflinching election season. 

Tarpaulins and banners are now plastered on the streets and gates of certain households; political rallies are booming, jingles are overheard from neighboring houses and moving cars; and debates, interviews, and forums are now set in place. 

But believe it or not, it’s not all fun and games on the eve and duration of the campaign period. 

Everyone’s bets would need publicity through campaigning and media exposure. Through that, we could immediately distinguish the diverging line between elite and non-elite candidates vying for government positions. 

As the elections near, the quest for finding the viable and befitting candidate has materialized in front of our eyes and breathed down our necks in anticipation. Who are we really pursuing our vote for, if there are popularity contests involved?

Understanding media and political influence are exceptionally crucial to avoid foolishness and getting hoodwinked into bouts of misinformation. Try to point a spotlight onto a subject who requires more lighting and their features will get highlighted. Turn that off and it will get dark, and at most times you’ll see nothing at all.

It’s time we choose where and which subject is best to turn the spotlight to. We don’t want a meager one with no depth and benevolent principle at all and only hogs the spotlight.

A quest for media inclusivity in the world of swarming elites

Photo courtesy of CNN Philippines

In the tomes of the media playbook, how will the non-elites increase their exposure in which the cream of the crop has already got a hold of?

In the Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews that aired live last Jan. 22, we witnessed elaboration of political agendas and feasible solutions by the four 一 supposedly five 一 survey front-runners for presidential candidacy namely Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Ping Lacson, and Vice President Leni Robredo. The late dictator’s son Bongbong Marcos Jr. was absent all throughout.

After Ms. Jessica Soho’s commendable interview stint with the four presidentiables, the remaining five were still unseen in the The 2022 Presidential Interviews of talk show host Boy Abunda; spanning in separate pre-recorded videos from Jan. 24 to Feb. 12. Ka Leody De Guzman’s presence was finally acknowledged through his interview that just got uploaded this March. 

“It looks like those who are famous and rich are still a priority,” De Guzman mentioned after the television snub last January from Soho’s interviews. 

De Guzman is one of the running presidential candidates whose platform delineated the voice and reason of the working class. He is a labor leader, activist, and president of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) with his running vice-presidential mate, Walden Bello. 

PLM issued a statement regarding De Guzman’s exclusion from both official interviews which was a big starting point for all candidates to garner huge publicity and openness to their proposed platforms. Yet despite this problematic issue, it was a fruitful get-go to kickstart the campaign period last Feb. 8. 

In this doomed reality where the non-elites are supposed to be of great attention, the underdogs go through much rougher times where exclusive media coverage is pervasive; with the common folk blissfully unaware of their stances and remaining only within their own cognitive biases.

Elections can turn into a big spectacle of glorified mass media where these mentioned repercussions aren’t noticeable enough to demand a great shift in exchanging relevant attention. 

For democracy to be truly upheld within political discourses and engagement, there stands a “reasonable” duty of care for every profession. As educator and producer David Puttnam states it; “Isn’t it time that we develop a concept of a duty of care and extend it, to include a care for our shared but increasingly endangered democratic values?”

There should be a grown need to practice transparency when it comes to the future of our democracy, and that starts with a gradual uplifting of media diversity and inclusivity.

The Panata Sa Bayan: The KBP Presidential Forum included De Guzman along with the same lineup: Pacquiao, Robredo, Lacson, and Moreno; with the exclusion of remaining candidates namely former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, former defense chief Norberto Gonzales, businessman Faisal Mangondato, and cardiologist and lawyer Doctor Jose Montemayor Jr. The forum became a breeding ground of insights and reformative policies in which all candidates must have been given the medium to answer.

Despite numerous factors feeding off of exclusionary media such as selective reporting and personality politics, beating it with diversity as well as plurality can be difficult but not completely impossible. If the media intensifies with a general goal of informing its audience rather than performing for it, so will expression and democracy. 

Principle or popularity?

Photo courtesy of Interaksyon

CNN Philippines organized the most crucial debates and forums of the election season; both for presidential, vice-presidential, and senatorial candidates vying for their positions. I cannot emphasize enough how relevant these kinds of national debates were for all candidates because everyone got invited; and almost every aspirant got to say their part in the least bit of airtime provided, except for the absentees. 

Debates are highly relevant and it’s the surefire一if not, admissible一 way to fully perceive your candidate more and their possible scheme of leadership. 

Yet despite that, it might still not be enough. 

Part of the problem lies within the media’s capacity and capability to broadcast these debates, forums, and interviews without the recurring thought of sacrificing air time just like in the CNN and Commission on Elections (COMELEC) debates. Not everyone got the chance to hold the torch, especially the lesser known aspirants

So how powerful can the media become? 

Aside from a result of clashing parties and bardagulan over on Facebook and social media sites, we also know of a certain Luke Espiritu who made waves during the SMNI Senatorial Debates and said everything that needs to be said: “Wag kang bastos!”

This occurred during the heated exchange between Espiritu, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, and suspended lawyer Larry Gadon regarding children acting as scapegoats for crimes. 

Lawyer Luke Espiritu is the president of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), labor leader and lawyer running as a senatorial candidate under the same party as De Guzman and VP bet Walden Bello. His media exposure struck gold during the debate, as well as his driven passion for change. 

Montemayor also caused waves off of social media and trended on Twitter during his clash with De Guzman during the CNN debates while garnering lots of good and bad publicity. And before things could cool down, another controversial ANC interview with interviewer Karmina Constantino followed it up. 

The point here is that for the non-elites to at least secure the recognition and immediate exposure they rightly deserve, incidents or some big form of skirmish has to happen for them to get it. If it goes big, then it headlines the news; if it doesn’t, their standings remain as is and it becomes more difficult to surpass the popularity-rated names despite their fortified agendas.

Speaking of popular names in the political landscape, we also have to give the slightest bit of attention to personality politics that drive the divide further between inclusive media. 

It’s a tad bit agreeable that it’s second nature by now and possibly unchanging due to its deep roots in the country’s long-standing political system; but realizing that we’re possibly being duped into it is a good start in addressing and avoiding tolerating it.

Many of our countrymen succumb to the ill-fated impulse of voting a candidate based on their public appearance and familiarity; and not with their competence. If you understand this, then you know who I’m talking about.

With dismal sighs, elections can then become a vicious period where impressions triumph and reign over absolute substance.

The media won’t go anywhere but our votes will

Photo courtesy of CNN Philippines

Another clash and contention of leadership abilities were seen in the COMELEC: PiliPinas Debates last March 19 to 20. This became another time for us to promote a sound discourse within ourselves and with other people on knowing each and every candidate’s plan of reform or action. 

Removing biases aside, it’s highly pertinent to be critical of our candidates and their views, platforms, and ways of ideal public service. The underdogs may still be underdogs; but at the end of the day, you’d be surprised by their competence and drive for actual change who weighs better than empty promises and the gleaming stats sheet.

Don’t give in to the free trade of shining letters and false hope; instead, focus on their capacity for progressive leadership. 

Even if our attention gets swayed by the bigger names in the media and political scene, we can either choose to spare a glance or give our full attention; but first and foremost, we have to safeguard our ability in choosing who to vote for. 

It starts with a bountiful practice of probing and exploring; of comparing and scrutinizing beliefs, ideas, intentions, and programs. Remaining within our own realm of intense bigotry and ignorance will never get us anywhere; and it will, in fact, discredit our need for educational and free-flowing discourse. 

The media should always be inclusive of everyone and every party involved; not just the notorious but also the low-profile. Allow inquiry and curiosity to persist rather than just familiarity because these candidates are here for a reason.

Again, it’s far better to point the spotlight on someone who shines brightly despite being in the dark. We don’t want another cloud to rain on our hope for the country and for a better future.

Sophia Katherine Sarmiento
Blogs Writer | + posts

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Opinion

Ang anim na taon nila ay anim na taon nating lahat

Marahil ay hindi kaya ng aming konsensya na hayaan lamang ang mga nakaupo na ayusin ang sistema na sila rin mismo ang sumisira. Dahil sa paglipas ng panahon, sino nga ba ang matitira at malulunod sa maling pamamahala?

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Artwork by Marcianne Elaine Gaab/TomasinoWeb

Sa nalalabing araw bago ang ika-9 ng Mayo, hindi maipagkakaila na ang halalan na ito ay isa sa mga pinakamahalagang pangyayari sa buhay ng mga kabataan. Sa katunayan, naitala ng COMELEC na mahigit 50 porsyento ng mga rehistradong botante ay binubuo ng mga mamamayang edad 18 hanggang 41.

Isa ako sa milyon-milyong kabataan na first time voter. Tulad ng ilan sa aking kapwa, ang pagkamulat sa nakalulungkot at nakagagalit na realidad, lalo nitong pandemya, ang nag-udyok sa akin upang magparehistro. Maniwala man kayo o hindi, biktima rin kami ng bulok na sistema. Mula sa aming pagpasok sa paaralan hanggang sa pag-uwi namin sa aming mga tahanan, pasan namin ang bigat ng pagiging isang “kabataan na pag-asa ng bayan” sa isang bayan na tila’y wala ng pag-asang matatanaw. 

Ngunit hindi kami pumayag na dito matatapos ang aming kwento. Mula noong idineklara ang simula ng pangangampanya, kabataan ang nanguna sa pagsulong ng isang malinis at tapat na eleksyon. Aktibo ring nakilahok ang mga kabataan sa mga inisiyatiba ng ilang pagkat upang labanan ng maling impormasyon at maling pagpapakalat nito. 

Sa bawat aspeto ng halalang ito, mayroong isang kabataan na kumikilos. Subalit tanong pa rin ng nakararami: Bakit nga ba? Bakit nga ba kami nagrereklamo? Bakit nga ba ayaw naming tumigil at sumunod na lang?

Dalawang rally na ang aking napuntahan. Sa dalawang pagkakataon na ‘yon, karamihan ng mga nakidalo at nakiisa ay mga kabataang tulad ko. Higit sa walong oras kaming nakatayo. Pinagpawisan sa matinding sikat ng araw at nabasa sa biglaang buhos ng ulan. Nangatog ang tuhod at sumakit ang likod. At sa gitna ng lahat ng ‘yon, nanatili pa rin kami at patuloy na tumindig. 

Totoo nga naman, mas kaya ng mga bata na tiisin ang pagod. Subalit, ang aming pagtindig ay hindi lamang nag-uugat sa aming kakayahan o kagustuhan na patunayang hindi kami bayaran. Nagagalit kami dahil nakikita namin ang lantarang kalapastanganan. Nangingialam kami dahil mayroon kaming nais ituwid na kamalian. Tumitindig kami dahil mayroon kaming kinabukasan na pinaglalaban. Karapatan namin ito. 

Marahil ay hindi namin masikmura na sumabay lamang sa agos ng buhay. Marahil ay hindi kaya ng aming konsensya na hayaan lamang ang mga nakaupo na ayusin ang sistema na sila rin mismo ang sumisira. Dahil sa paglipas ng panahon, sino nga ba ang matitira at malulunod sa maling pamamahala? Sino ang magmamana sa gulo at ganid na iiwan ng mga nakatatanda? 

Madaling sabihin na mangibang bansa na lamang kami kung ayaw namin itong maranasan. Ngunit, hindi lahat ng mamamayan ay may ganitong uri ng pribilehiyo at hindi masosolusyunan ng pag-alis ng bansa ang mga problema sa ating lipunan. 

Desperado na kung desperado, pero kapalaran at kinabukasan natin ang nakataya sa Mayo 9. Mananatili tayong mabubulok sa maling sistema kung patuloy na mga trapo, mapagsamantala, at sinungaling ang ating iluluklok sa pamahalaan. Mananatili tayong mabubulok sa maling sistema kung hindi natin kusang itutuwid ito sa pamamagitan ng tama, responsable, at may pusong pagboto. 

Kailanman ay hindi naging pansarili lamang ang ating mga boto. Kalakip nito ang bawat kabataang naghahangad sa mas maunlad na kinabukasan; ang bawat manggagawa na pilit na nabubuhay sa limang daan kada araw; ang bawat nurse at doktor na nagsasakripisyo para sa ating kapakanan; ang bawat bakla, lesbiyana, bi, at trans na isinasawalang bahala; ang bawat biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao na sumisigaw ng hustisya; at ang bawat mamamayang Pilipino na uhaw sa pagbabago. 

Madaling mabawi ang pagod ng isang araw ng pagpila upang bumoto. Subalit, habang buhay nating dadalhin magiging epekto nito. Kaya sa pagsapit ng araw ng halalan, nawa’y ang inyong boto ay hindi para lang sa sarili niyo o sa mga nais niyong kandidato, kundi para sa kapakanan ng bansang pagsisilbihan nito. Ang anim na taon nila ay anim na taon nating lahat. 

Ika nga ni Heneral Luna, “Bayan o sarili? Pumili ka.” 

Nitindog para sa mga pangakong hindi mapapako. Tinalakad para sa tapat na pamumuno. Tumakder para sa kinabukasan, tumindig para sa bayan. 

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Opinion

We need concrete solutions, not motherhood statements

Why fear debates if you have nothing to hide? Is it the lack of platforms, policy, or vision for the country?

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Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

About two months before the Filipinos decide the next set of national and local leaders, we find ourselves at a crossroads of different things. 

Ideally, we vote for people who will represent our interests through detailed, logical, and well-substantiated platforms and carefully crafted, evidence-based policies they intend to implement if and when they get elected.

In the basket case democracy that is the Philippines, that’s unfortunately not the case. 

Politics of patronage, clientelism, and dynasties remain to pervade which naturally dilute the electoral system of the country. Everything has become a matter of popularity through name recall and puckish gimmicks. A politics of spectacle.

From joining the new Tiktok dance trends to making punchlines, the Filipino voter has seen and heard it all. And for some who are unfamiliar with the dirty game of politics, they’d probably mistake the candidates as people auditioning for an entertainment agency, not for any public elective posts.

So much is at stake in the upcoming May 2022 polls of a country left with more than 12 trillion pesos of debt on the shoulders of the citizens, a slowly recovering economy from the pandemic crises, and a deeply polarized nation, to name a few. 

As a first-time voter, I simply want to take part in pushing and elevating the discourse of our electoral politics beyond childish antics.

One of the most overlooked aspects of the Philippine electorate in choosing who to vote for is the platforms. Platforms are political roadmaps of these soon-to-be leaders; it makes the voters visualize their proposed policy, beliefs, and ambitions for the country, and ensure them to deliver these promises. 

Photo courtesy of IBON Foundation

The voter cannot merely rely on motherhood statements, empty promises, vague solutions, and the populist rhetoric of politicians. Of course, we all want unity but for what’s sake? What should we unite for especially in a time of great poverty, hunger, injustices, and inequality? The idea of radical love is nice, too, but what examples have we set to make it real and not just a fancy buzzword? 

It is an insult to the intelligence of the Filipino voter to harp these blanket ideas without providing actual steps in realizing those values repeatedly. In fact, some may even argue that student council hopefuls even present better, more detailed, and specific agendas to their constituents than those who seek public office.

The necessity of debates

So, candidates may have platforms and promises that purport to address the social ills of the nation, such as the health crisis and economic recession. What, then? Debates.

Contrary to the narrative being pushed by supporters of candidates unwilling to attend debates, these events, which include fora and interviews, do not wrestle candidates against each other like a derby cockfight. After all, that’s what is bound to happen on election day. 

Photo by Camille Martinez/ CNN Philippines

Debates are a place where the points, vision, and arguments match against each other so much so the viewers can judge for themselves the best person to carry their own beliefs and aspirations that the nation will need for the next six years and beyond. In these avenues, candidates can shed light on both personal and political issues that are otherwise unanswered, much less confronted about.

When advertisements of candidates air via free television, the viewers are passive receivers of information—no chance to question or clarify matters to the aspirant, no matter how hard one tries to scream in front of the screen. This is where debates come in. 

While still aired in a widely accessible medium of free television, the hopefuls’ platforms and issues are actively tackled so much so that the information does not get consumed unchecked. Unlike interviews and news reports, the other candidates are there to probe and challenge all of their stances on key issues and events. It’s a clash of ideas and ideologies because platforms cannot exist in a vacuum. 

One would wonder: Why fear debates if you have nothing to hide? Is it the lack of platforms, policy, or vision for the country? The very simple act of showing up to public debates has been muddled with great mental gymnastics just to justify being absent. Those who failed to participate were given an empty podium in the event. Their absence was felt as much as the candidates who are present in the forum were.

Elections only happen once every three or six years. Platforms and concrete solutions illustrate the nation we desire moving forward. Well, if there’s a lesson from the electoral history of the Philippines, it’s that the fight for a better country shouldn’t stop on May 9 and all the elections to come.

Paolo Alejandrino
Blogs Writer | + posts

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Dear betas

Dear betas, in a society that favors the alphas, you do not have to be the best.

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Coleen Ruth Abiog, outgoing TomasinoWeb associate editor for PY 2020-2021

Throughout my academic journey, what was ingrained to me by my teachers, family, and society, is to climb to the top because to them, it is what this journey is all about. If you cannot do your best, then what is the point of doing it at all? Fast forward to today, I don’t even want to be a part of that mountaineering club.

College, I found out, is a vast playground just like elementary and high school. In fact, the first two years are merely an extension of high school. College is where you train and commit as many mistakes as you can because there are no rooms for errors anymore in the real world. What is out there is not even close to what we have been experiencing here in the university.

You enter college, and you are greeted with fliers saying you must join organizations, make connections, and become student leaders or dean’s listers. To add to that, you have to be an alpha player—someone who excels in either academics or extracurricular activities. 

Being an alpha means a more successful career slash greater chances of survival. But what if you cannot be any of that? What if you are not an alpha to begin with? You are just an average student and “just enough” in every aspect. You simply walk on the sidelines, hoping that even without outshining the others, you will eventually get through all of this.

Our present education system is flawed. It only prioritizes the alphas. After graduating from high school, you have to be sure of your chosen degree program, only to realize that you do not belong there. After graduating from college, you have to know what job you should apply for; otherwise, you will miss out on a successful career. But at the age of 16 and 21, there is really no way of knowing what is sure and what is not because you are still in the process of figuring out who you really are.

The point of education is to learn, and learning should not even have a time frame or a dictated structure. But hey, this capitalist society said that we need an education system that will ASAP produce workers, who have no choice but to make rich people richer, while milking them and convincing them that they can be as rich as who they are working for. Now we, the young, make do with what we have, which is to look for success defined by society. We define success as being at the top of every aspect—looks, money, school, work, talent, skills, networks, and family. 

Woefully, what society constantly tells you is what you have to be and not what you do not have to be.

Dear betas, in a society that favors the alphas, you do not have to be the best. In fact, just let the alphas do the best. You do not have to be on the dean’s list and allow unreasonable numbers to define who you are. You do not have to join organizations just to feel like you belong. You do not have to be a leader nor be in any high position to prove that you can promote a change. You do not have to compete with anyone to win. You do not even need any breakthroughs to prove yourself. You just have to live and be you.

Lao Tzu said: “Water benefits all things, and does not compete with them. It dwells in the lowly places that all disdain, wherein it comes near to the Tao.”

Just do well in everything that you do, and let your life unfold from there. Embrace not being the first. The advantage of being beta is that you do not have to be the best.

P.S. To TomasinoWeb Core 13, thank you for allowing me to be the beta version of myself (pun intended).

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