Sunday ∗ 01 Aug 2010

one month of P-Noy: notes of a Pinay

the irony should not be lost on any of them, really. after all they’re the newly-created, seemingly hi-tech, and youthful (!) aspect of the Noy government, and as the communications group, they should know of the contradictions inherent in their mere existence.

they who are tasked with “communications” different and separate and new(?) from what we’ve seen as the office of the press secretary all these years. but save for putting up twitter and facebook accounts, and a website, we have yet to hear and see why this is important at all. ironically, they speak of this as if it’s a new and fancy creature that’s all about the Noy government’s notions of change. but really.

you do not need a whole office to create websites and accounts, nor do you need a whole bunch of new people who are purportedly adept at communicating. look at Gang Badoy’s Dear Noynoy. and really Manolo Quezon III’s (now member for the communications group) websites. it seems that all it would take is to hire techies for these sites, and then have Noynoy do the good things that are worth writing about.

but talk about this communications group inevitably leads to how we, the people, are this government’s new boss, and in which case, that this is one way to connect with the citizenry. true true. but really, you will respond to each and every citizen’s complaint? that Quezon and Ricky Carandang believe they can do this is the strangest of things; that they joined government for something that has yet to be defined and constructed and proven necessary (at this point!) is even stranger.

the truth is, you don’t need a whole office of three people to do this. you need a whole fluggin’ call center. I can complain to you easily about 40 horrid things that government in this country has done to me. I bet my parents will have double that, my brother maybe 30 because he’s been gone a while. add my one barkada of 4 people  x 40 complaints, another barkada of 4 x 40 complaints, and easily that makes 550 complaints.

and I tell you that these are the valid complaints, nothing on Kris (because they deem that irrelevant don’t they), and just one each on Hacienda Luisita (lest we be called the noisy minority that is the Left when the question should be: why aren’t your activists noisy to begin with?). I can tell you that mine will range from horrible facilities in the public schools I’ve studied in to corruption in education, from the convicted Aquino-Galman boys who have been suffering in jail for far too long, for something that they insist they didn’t do, to the hazy crazy fraternity wars that are all encompassing but which we don’t know a lot about. mine will come from my experiences as a teacher across the different universities, and as an activist teacher who spoke to real live public school teachers about their impoverished lives. mine will come from the violence I’ve experience at rallies, the violence inflicted on activists, and this continued violence: P-Noy refuses to put his foot down and Free the Political Prisoners!

the one thing I wish he would take from his mother, the one thing he doesn’t seem to want to do.

where does this communications group even begin to imagine the possibility of (1) responding to these complaints, (2) justly choosing which ones are “valid”, and (3) that we, the complainants, are the bosses here?

Quezon though points out a more complex job, and this one is infinitely interesting:

“My specific functions will focus on strategic planning in terms of messaging (including market research and polling), as well as editorial aspects of official communications, which in turn ranges from editorial guidelines and policies in general, to the Official Gazette in particular (bringing it from the 20th to the 21st century), to corporate identity and institutional memory.”

if messaging is the task, then please begin with taking down those billboards and tarpaulins with Noynoy saying “Mabuhay ang Mabuting Pilipino!” it’s uncomfortable to be told by my president longlive the good Pinoy, when it’s entirely possible that i will not be considered as such given his standards. same goes for those tarpaulins with Noy and Binay saying “Kayo ang Boss Namin.” as if naman. to have these slogans on the streets makes it seem like hard sell, and really, like it is a lesson being ingrained in our heads. is it suppose to make us feel good about this government? i’d feel good about a government that wasn’t spending on billboards and tarpaulins, to tell you the truth.

too, given advertising on our streets alongside the remnants of Bayani Fernando: pink and blue fences, footbridges, toilets! they must realize that sometimes it’s a reminder of what’s just so wrong on our streets, the cleaning of which should’ve been the first thing done by government. with “Bawal Tumawid, Nakamamatay!”  or a Kris Aquino billboard selling appliances within sight, the Noy-Bi tarps and the Noy billboards just seem like advertisements too, that just might be as dangerous as crossing the streets of EDSA.

but maybe this isn’t the point? because there’s also the editorial aspect of it, speechwriting (ooh, how they celebrated after the SONA ‘no?), and the creation of identity. which seems ironic really, as we all know what kind of identity this presidency wants to establish: that of being less than liable for the state of the nation. after all they just began by pointing a finger at who’s responsible for this mess, and throwing the ball on our court: Noy can’t do this alone, we must begin with ourselves.

which is all true, but haven’t we all been helping this country all this time? i pay my taxes, follow the law, involve myself in issues in many ways all this time, and yet. it takes two years for me to get my SSS benefit, i had to put out more than an old business was earning just to renew my permits, have dealt with too many a corrupt public official. i’ve suffered in the face of the civil service code, have been oppressed by both the public and private school system, have lived with very little and delayed pay, and almost no benefits. i have suffered because of the lack of a reproductive health bill that protects the mother, that makes medical institutions more respectful of women’s rights to decide on their and their baby’s lives.

having lived through this, as many others have lived longer with it, there’s nothing in the messages that this government has sent that relieves me, or makes me hopeful. the small solutions – catch a tax evader here, a tax evader there – aren’t what will make me proud. it’s the bigger ones. revise the system, revise the aspects of it that fail to work. talk about education and what it is that two private school officials (Fr. Luistro for Dep Ed and Licuanan for CHED) would know of the public school system that is in the throes of corruption, literally and figuratively. and really, the Aquino sisters giving away school supplies doesn’t solve a thing. not one thing.

or maybe all the communications group needs to begin with is this: try and be more credible. because saying that Ricky Carandang was to begin with on Noynoy’s side, even when he was working as a journalist in ABS-CBN, has debunked altogether the whole network’s press releases about being unbiased throughout the campaign and in the present. of course that has always been hard to believe about ABS-CBN, but the Carandang question adds another layer to this judgment of the Lopez-owned media empire, and its relationship with the Aquinos. sayang talaga the credibility that Maria Ressa had tried so hard to work on for the news and public affairs division.

oh well, but that’s their loss. of credibility, i mean. and of relevance. and of being seen as objective and critical actors in the newly staged performance that is the Noynoy presidency.

a badly-directed variety show circa 1990s for the inauguration? check!

interviews with image consultants and couturiers for Noy’s outfits? check!

writing the script for this show that seems to be on technical rehearsals within its 100 days? check!

a disbelieving citizen that wants to be surprised, has no institution to answer to, and is as independent as people come: check check check.

Posted in: aktibismo, bayan, gobyerno, kapitalista, komentaryo, media, sa kalye

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