TEDx Talks are independently organized TED talks across the world, which is about “riveting talks by remarkable people.” TEDx Diliman was my first. This is a review of each of the TED talks that were part of it, done in 18 minutes or less, because that’s the time limit of a TED Talk. Read more about TED here, and check out this really good video on TEDx here.
the thing with saying that the Philippines’ advantage is our freedom is that the only idea it gets across is a romance with the freedom of expression we enjoy (as exemplified apparently by having the TEDx talk to begin with, Alampay says), which of course also means limning over the fact of activists being jailed and disappeared, cultural worker Ericson Acosta still being in jail, and really begs the question: what freedom?
Alampay’s 18++ minutes (yes he was allowed) was spent talking about freedom being our competitive advantage because it can mean making the country the center not just of civil society which feeds off of freedom, but also the center of academic freedom (“Kaya namin ‘yon!” he says). both will mean generating jobs and contributing to the economy, creating an industry out of our freedom.
for Alampay, freedom is the card we can play, because, and i quote:
freedom is the one thing we do better than anybody else.
do we? really do freedom well I mean? Alampay uses the example of CCP’s closure of the Kulo exhibit (without mentioning it of course), without realizing that in fact in fact more than proving that the gov’t can just take away our freedom, that incident also proved that when we are questioned about our freedom, we have no idea how to defend ourselves. we mess it up completely: our artists, curators, cultural workers. we do not know how to defend ourselves, we do not know how to talk to media, to the people who don’t care for our art but will care about religion, and we mess it up. that is us messing up even as we are free. that is proof that we don’t do freedom well.
even more false? the idea that there’s academic freedom where we are. i’ve lived off of two universities in this country, and when you’re immersed in that manner you also know that in fact your freedoms are false in these institutions, they are limited to what is the intellectual parochialism that’s there, they are limited by the people who have been in the academe all these years.
most importantly, academic freedom, artistic freedom, freedom of expression are all highly questionable when you come from here and know | feel | see that freedom is also overrated when it cannot will not put food on people’s tables and more and more people are falling below the poverty line.
and if you live in the Philippines, you must also know — and must admit — that most of the time we are delusional about our freedom because we are middle class educated English-speaking TEDx speakers. or, as Alampay says, he’s an economy of one, dreaming.
dreams are good. but as ungrounded and unfulfilled, as romanticized and sophomoric as this? not at all worthy of a TEDx talk. but it sure sounds like something the PNoy government would love to hear.