Saturday ∗ 05 Nov 2011

notes on TEDx Diliman: ideas worth spreading?

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.

Roby Alampay on freedom is our competitive advantage

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.

Posted in: akademya, arts and culture, bayan, gobyerno, komentaryo, middle class, review, the elite

Tagged: , ,

6 Comments/Pingbacks

  1. Orlando R
    November 5, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Ms. Santiago, what you say makes a lot of sense. And we do have freedom of expression that allows talks of all kinds, such as the tedx talk of Mr. A, or even “read-alongs” where no one learns how to read, to proliferate. I find it somewhat silly that one has to be annointed as “remarkable” to be part of the tedx circuit, but never mind.

    “Academic freedom” is a very narrow concept of freedom. It has a technical meaning in that academics are free to decide how they will teach, to whom they will teach, etc. But it is abused in PH because it covers up academic incompetence (I’m sure you can give stark examples, just don’t name names).

    But freedom in general is not something we “produce” in the same sense that we produce BPO services (where we have both absolute and comparative advantage). It is something “in the air” — much like a public good — and theoretically it should support a good democracy. Since what we really have is a (disguised) plutocracy or kleptocracy (take your pick), the freedom we have is bogus (in your words, it is based on “dreaming.” So, how do we wake ourselves up? The latent answer: another tedx talk!

    • ina
      November 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      Sir Orlando! :-) i am liking the concept of academic incompetence being covered up by academic freedom. hehe.

  2. GabbyD
    November 5, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    agreed. mr alampay’s talk lacked rigor — esp when he referenced the kulo exhibit.

  3. Steve Salonga
    November 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    an illusion is what Alampay extols. a “split-level” freedom is what he is talking about. At the elite level, freedom is unlimited as evidenced by the TedX talks as he mentions. Much like the relative freedom of the ilustrado students in Madrid during the Propaganda movement. The powers considered such expressions as healthy to vent youthful enthusiasm — until such expressions become “seditious.” Such freedom is absent among the masses, where such expressions would be considered subversive and threatening. Until this split-level consciousness is sorted out, every generation will have children declaring the King has no clothes!

    • ina
      November 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      Sir! :-) right there is the crux of the matter ‘no? i think there’s a denial among Alampay’s ilk of the manner in which social class plays such a huge huge role in the things that they say and do and assert about nation. i sense that they live kasi in this small circle that they are part of where there aren’t a whole lot of disagreements, kasi nga they’re all of the same class.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Katrina Stuart Santiago  ·  Contact Me
Wordpress theme and web development by @joelsantiago