Do you think the Philippines deserves a Last Week Tonight-esque program? (And an assessment of news satire on Pinoy TV)


(Photo credits: a screengrab of an episode of Last Week Tonight. Copyright 2014 HBO, no copyright infringement intended)

Do you think this country deserves a television program which follows in the footsteps of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver?
To those unfamiliar, Last Week Tonight is a news satire program which delves into different subjects (Climate Change, Net Neutrality, President Donald Trump, Brexit, among others) in a humorous fashion. There are clips of the show available on YouTube. We might as well provide one here: 

https://youtu.be/FVFdsl29s_Q
Now back to the question, with the messy state of Filipino politics and its divisiveness (especially now), and the need to explain its complexities in a way the ordinary Juan dela Cruz will understand, is it really timely that we produce one? 

We’re no stranger to news satire but there are times programs like these didn’t last, either because of a lack of audience response or diminishing audience interest after an initial huge following, or because of political sensibilities which results in such shows being axed.

Examples are:

  • IBC 13’s Sic O Clock News with Jaime Fabregas and Ces Quesada (which also featured the late Rene Requiestas)
  • Studio 23’s Wazzup Wazzup with Toni Gonzaga and Vhong Navarro
  • GMA News TV’s May Tamang Balita with Ramon Bautista
  • TV5’s Word of the Lourd, The Weekend News with Ramon Bautista, and Kontrabando

This program might be a good pitch for the established networks but will it work in the long term? May this show be perceived as a mere copycat of the original HBO program? Or will it exacerbate the already divisive political atmosphere, especially when it touches on issues like President Duterte’s rape jokes, the Marcoses’ political comeback (mga dilawan!) or the so-called Leni-leaks and other issues surrounding the Liberal Party (Dutertrolls). (Sidenote: I would want to see this show poke fun regularly at Trillanes and his Magdalo as he is a bigger joke than Pacquiao). And in the US, shows like these tend to skew towards the political left (which is also my political leanings though I don’t associate myself with the traditional Filipino left, that is the CPP-NPA-NDF, MAKABAYAN bloc, or its affiliated groups).

No one knows exactly, it’s hard to predict what the audience might think or look for, but let’s see if it will be a similar success. 

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Reforms on the public transport system

With the jeepney strikes protesting against the impending phaseout in favor of jeepney modernization last Monday which almost paralyzed public transport in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces (and to lesser extent other cities in the country) and the LTFRB’s controversial decisions against Uber and Grab (which is increasingly becoming the preferred mode of transport among certain segments of the riding public), one thing is for certain, a comprehensive reform of the public transport system. 

How do we propose such a reform?

  • Continue with the jeepney modernization, which is necessary as our distinctive mode of transport which is a sign of Filipino ingenuity must keep up with modern times. (which will also help local manufacturers)
  • The government could employ the jeepney drivers which will make them entitled to benefits like housing, health insurance, and regular pay, as opposed to a per boundary basis. 
  • The government could professionalize drivers through seminars on a regular basis (seminars on traffic laws, among others), so as to mitigate concerns on drivers beating regulations such as no-loading zones, speeding, etc.
  • Develop and expand the railway system (LRT, PNR, MRT) across the country, not just in Metro Manila but also in other urban centers like Cebu, Davao, Bacolod, Baguio, among others so as to reduce road congestion, as well as improved connecivity

These are the only tangible solutions available to the government if we truly want to reform our public transport system in the country. As citizens we can offer solutions but it’s still up to them to decide whether or not to carry out those mentioned above, but in our opinion it’s the way to go.

It will take a long time, until then, tiis-tiis muna. 

Thoughts on PTV News’ shakeup

Last June 28, PTV decided to update its on-air identity, reflecting a renewed thrust as a public service station following in the footsteps of foreign counterparts BBC, NHK, CGTN, among others. 

Days later, Kathy San Gabriel and other staff were abruptly dismissed from the network and was never given the chance to bid farewell on-air. It was also during this time reports on alleged corruption over at PTV started to surface. (Check Snow Badua’s Facebook page.)

And on a surprising move, PTV decided to rebrand its newscasts formerly under the uniformed brand PTV News. These are:

  • Sentro Balita, anchored by Alex Santos and Angelique Lazo, who was recently narrating the Para sa Bayan documentary series narrating PTV’s history since 1974 (Princess Habiba Sarip-Paudac is now station manager of Salaam TV)
  • Ulat Bayan, anchored by Aljo Bendijo and Katherine Vital
  • PTV News Headlines, anchored by Charms Espina and Richmond Cruz

This may confuse viewers for quite some time who are already quite accustomed to the PTV News brand. In my opinion, PTV should have settled in reviving the Teledyaryo brand in use since 2001 during the Arroyo years and survived the first 2 years of Noynoy Aquino’s administration. [A common problem for PTV is whenever there is a change of administration, there will be a change in branding.]

Lastly, PTV News must strive to avoid to being perceived as a lapdog of any sitting president and promote itself as a credible source to an audience quite exasperated with mainstream media.