Never in the history of politics has there been such instantaneous, fierce and harsh exchanges between people such as we have now. And this is because of social media, which enables us to speak whenever we want or wherever we are regarding issues we may be ignorant of or knowledgeable about.
There’s a continuous spread of information and misinformation from almost all sides—paid or not, intentional or not, whether it’s from public and private groups and personalities, including those in the entertainment industry.
In addition to being a passionate people, life for many of us is so difficult that every time we meet somebody who we think can uplift our lives, one who says what we want to hear, we really cling to him and what he says he believes in, as if that person really represents our ideals, even if that person hasn’t proven anything.
We, in the industry, vouch for these people and burn bridges with others for them. We’re ready to destroy or quarrel with our small circle because of our different political beliefs. We’re in show business, so we’re very much aware of facades and tricks in promotions and advertising.
Devoted and loyal
But oddly, many of us are easily taken in by politicians. We still end up becoming fans and allow ourselves to be used as such. We remain devoted and loyal to these people and refuse to see when they do evil deeds. Think about it: Which of these people actually did anything to lift Philippine arts and cinema? We are free and it’s understandable to choose sides. In our minds, we hope these individuals would improve the state we’re in.
In my case, I’ve been through several administrations and, like any other Filipino, I used to feel deeply attached and involved in the success of politicians I believed in. Depending on the situation, I felt joy, anger and sadness for these people’s sakes, because I thought that the future depended on them. I had different expectations for each leader. There weren’t a lot of choices and information about politicians that were available for the voters, especially back in the day when technology was limited, but I tried to go for what I thought was the safer, if not better, alternative. In time, and I’m probably saying this out of bitterness, I realized that the only difference is in how much each of them will fail or disappoint you. Of course, this is attached to our hopes and expectations.
Yes, we’re always looking for heroes to change the state of things. But after everything we’ve seen in the past decades, I wonder, especially when it comes to older artists if we’re still too insensitive or shallow to know better than to fight and pull each other down because of our contradictory political colors. But looking at our own backyard in the industry, what have we done for our people?
There are always pros and cons of everything and everyone. Every candidate has something to offer, but there’s always the question of his ability to deliver.
Now it’s a given that the government would create institutions that could attend to our artistic and cultural pursuits. But it’s one thing to establish an organization that is supposed to help film workers and productions, and another to make sure that that office is actually functioning correctly to provide the help it is mandated to give. Ribbon-cutting is different from having the will to sustain an operation.
When it comes to politicians or celebrity politicians, I used to expect that each one would carry out substantial things to help the film and art industries, not only because they’re supposed to understand our issues, but also since those from the entertainment industry are often tapped to help promote these candidates. But no, many of them are only very noisy during the elections, and do nothing concrete for the industry they benefited from.
We wish it, but it’s not that we expect them to be so ardent in how they assist us. We don’t ask that they prioritize or treat us in a special way, but then again, we are citizens who also work hard to pay taxes, and some reliable help for our artists would only be a good thing.
Politics aside, we have ourselves to rely on. The industry must be united to help itself. I’ve lost faith in many things, but I believe in hard work … that a few small people can start from scratch and create great things.
It’s no exaggeration to say that small independent filmmakers exert a lot of effort to put the Philippines on the global stage. But it’s not just about winning, it’s also about introducing the country to foreign viewers—which is a big help in marketing what we have. After all, they can’t buy what they have not seen.
This is why the tourism department spends millions to promote the country. But though we often beg for support and at times receive it with gratitude, it is just fair to say that these films did not win because of the government or the giant networks, but because of the risks taken and the sacrifices made to create the winning films.
Independent filmmakers get acknowledged when they win top awards abroad, but what about before and during production? Often, we get either nothing or just rejection letters when we plead for support.
Does this dampen our spirits? No, because we are used to it. We have coped, survived and succeeded—by working tirelessly and continuously, whether individually or as a team. It’s fortunate that every now and then, we find good partners to aid us. But just think of the possibilities, how different would Philippine cinema and the entertainment industry be if, instead of wasting our energy bickering about people who care little for us, we use it to help and work with each other, even those who don’t believe in the “idols” we believe in.
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