1. the fact of Santos’ class, and i use that word not just to point to his lack of social skills (for goodness why would he think a joke like that funny?) and bad manners (he was asked about actors he himself worked with for his film, yes?), but also his social class. that humor, if we’d like to call it that, is one that we know exists, that we might have heard before from rowdy boys in some sosy Starbucks, or kids we’ve taught in our time as teachers, and it’s a humor that isn’t surprising in its existence. what is surprising is that Santos did not turn it off for television, that he actually thought this was an interview that would be so comfortable, his humor would be fine. which bring us back to the fact that he might be a rich kid — a konyo kid in our context who feeds his cat catfood and thinks lowly of skyflakes (equals 1 cup of rice kaya and isang pack no’n!) — but apparently rich doesn’t mean classy.
2. which is what that show Cityscape is, more pang-mayaman than anything. Sir Anton Juan is so correct about pointing out how that host is at fault as well, though there’s the mere existence of lifestyle shows for the elite like this one that’s just wrong in third world Philippines. that show, as is David Celdran’s ANC show, is a bubble that allows the ones who are in it to believe that everyone speaks the same language, thinks the same, live the same, i.e., we’re all rich, you’ll get my humor. is this to defend Santos? of course not. it’s to point out that other than this articulation, there’s a fundamental problem in a media system that creates a venue for him to speak this way, and think that it’s ok. it’s telling of a crisis in media, isn’t it, when the rich can be shameless about their lives and lifestyles, as if they were not in impoverished philippines?
3. some critics of Santos are angry because he draws a divide between film and theater. i say it’s a reminder: despite Eugene Domingo, John Lapus moving from theater to film, and despite numerous mainstream actors moving from mainstream and finding more credibility in theater, that divide still exists. and it’s one that’s painfully and obviously about money, i.e., who will make money for TV and movie executives and therefore will get better pay, and not at all about who does the better job at acting or entertaining.
now that divide gets a little more complex when we talk about the indie film industry of which Santos is part. the indie in fact is theater in light of commercial film; it’s where the more artistic, more creative filmmaking happens, where the better actors are found. i always thought the indie employing theater actors meant a team effort of sorts, one that spoke of both industries’ struggle to prove creativity on the most flimsy of budgets, on a dire lack of support. Santos’ articulation pointed to the fact that the indie film industry has it’s own divide to deal with, and it’s one that’s becoming more and more stark as they go about this business of being “independent.” while it’s true that there are countless writers and directors who financially struggle to get a hold of a camera and finish a film, it’s also difficult to ignore this fact: there are also these kids who go to some sosyal film school, are given cameras on a silver platter and think the struggle is just like wow pare, it’s so hard to make the film i want, coz i want to do a tarantino film or like a kubrick? and the philippines is so not prepared for me.
wow pare, ang tindi ng struggle mo.
4. and lastly, Tanghalang Pilipino’s artistic director Nanding Josef wonders:
And it also makes me wonder what the outsiders, the ‘uzis’ (mga usisera), the non-artists and the critics of the artists make out of this free-for-all, uncensored and free-flowing downpour of expletives, name-calling by the artists against another artist, albeit a beginning artist.
here’s what i think, Sir: while i’ve got a brother and sister-in-law who were part of theater in the Philippines before they left for Holland, and while i’d like to think myself a theater critic at times (though i cringe at that label half the time, especially with gibbs cadiz and exie abola around), as outsider to philippine theater, i think this emotional outpouring of anger and disgust at the issues that underlie Santos’ articulations is the perfect reason to start talking about a theater actors’ union.*
of course in this country insisting on a union is a red flag up for the powers-that-be. but seeing the theater industry’s united stand against this articulation (even those who have forgiven Santos admit to his fault here), i think the theater world’s 100 steps ahead of the fight for what every creative industry worker deserves: a spanking-new union.
the writers among us can only be envious.
*and i mean a real one, not like the UMPIL for writers, which doesn’t really function to protect writers or standardize how much we might get paid, but seems more like a fraternity of writers. i mean a real artists’ union, much like the Philippine Models Association of the Philippines (yes, they are smarter than us all), that standardizes pay based on seniority and skill of their members, and is responsible for any of its members not performing their jobs well.