By Famarie Battung
It was Holy week when I received a text saying Rico Yan had died in Dos Palmas Resort. As was my wont, I ignored the text. But eventually the text proved to be true. Indeed Rico’s rising star was nipped right in the bud by a mere bangungot.
And the nightmare never left the local entertainment.
Movies, TV shows, musical concerts and albums, theater plays and other forms of entertainment almost always succumb to the trends set by we don’t know who. It seems that innovation is a word not heard of by the so-called creative departments. But in fairness to the producers and writers, exceptions arise from time to time although almost always, the exceptions fail to meet their goal.
Take the music scene, craze is the only catchword. When Aiza broke the charts with her Pagdating Ng Panahon so many followed suit. When Salbakuta’s rap Stupid Love hit it big so many followed suit. When novelty songs like the Spageti dance buldozed the airwaves so many followed suit. The so-called R&B (Rhythm and Blues) singers are five-centavos-a-dozen such that you cannot distinguish Kyla from Niña nor Nyoy Volante from the rest, not to mention the bands in that genre. No wonder the music industry is not moving forward. We haven’t produced classic-caliber songs like we used to simply because the album producers are just relying on gut feel of the craze.
The movie industry is the number one when it comes to craze-digesting. Remember the bomba films of yore? It metamorphosed into TF (Titillating Film) then to the bold tag. And when it seemed to be invincible in visibility its tribe suddenly made a vanishing act. This phenomenon is definitely not caused by the pervading piracy. It may be more of a conscience-act on the part of the producers ( or theater owners ) but I think it’s more the effect of the new kilig craze. And with the death of FPJ, the action genre seemed to have been extinguished too. ( Ed: Ronnie Ricketts recently came up with UNO and is on te pre-prod of another action flick. ) Now they are cashing in on the “kilig” genre like they did before with the olden Sampaguita and LVN days of Carmen Rosales and Rogelio Dela Rosa. Although comedy is against the tide of the craze, Enteng Kabisote proved to be the big winner in last year’s MMFF. I wonder why there are very few producers who are interested in comedy films. Maybe there are very few comedians left around. Or very few effective comedy writers.
DERETSAHAN, a reality TV show hosted by Amy Perez is a third-rated, trying hard, copycat of the Geraldo Show where the common tao is used as props. It’s more of a Barangayan event, I’d say. Is a spat caused by trash in the street sewage a national interest? Is a neighborly quarrel due to the loud videoke volume of relevance to the entire nation? DERETSAHAN is a direct assault on the sensitivities of the intelligent Filipino viewers. No wonder ABC-5 is still much behind in the network race.
BORA, another TV show, is a vulgar display of male and female bodies. In fairness, the show’s format requires the baring but as the show goes on, one gets the impression that BORA is boring unless you are a homosexual of a maniac of sorts. It is no wonder why ABS-CBN is now going to the dumps in terms of rating.
To compensate for the lousy TV shows, foreign TV novelas are at it, eating up a big portion of the income of the Filipino artists. Sleight-handed promoters even have the gall to bring the foreign TV stars for a personal appearance here. Remember the F4 mania? It’s funny to hear their songs which we don’t understand even a single word of it. An aspiring writer posed this question: If the foreign telenovelas can penetrate the local market then why don’t we do the same to them? Korea, for one, has a policy that for every 3 imported films there should be a counterpart of at least one local film. That’s a neat protection for their local-bred artists.
The theater or stage is not spared of vulgarity. It seems that a new genre is born, that of subtle sexuality. The adapted Vagina Monologues is proclaimed to be a woman-oriented play but the audience may find it anything but that. Penis Talks is definitely another third-rated, trying hard, copycat, the opposite version of Vagina Monologues as regards the title. For sure there are other plays of this genre to follow. Talk of art, talk of abuse of art and we have it in the theater. Those plays are no different from call girls dressed decently during parties for foreign businessmen. And the color of homosexuality is very vivid in those plays giving one the impression that the writers or directors are homosexuals. Why can’t we mount locally-written stage plays? Ah, blame the old-fashioned literatis for this. Join a literary writing contest and be surprised that only entries with the jurassic style would win.
It may not look relevant on the surface but taking a closer look, the craze mentality is everywhere. The once popular PBA is now invaded by Fil-Ams with some eventually turning out to be Fil-shams. Jasmine Trias of the American Idol fame came here, not exactly to visit her roots but to make commercials and bring home the bacon back to the US. Alex Pagulayan, a Canadian citizen, was granted a dual citizenship when he won a big billiards tournament. The list can be endless but one thing is sure, there is an ongoing search in the name of craze.
On the brighter side, there are entities going against the tide or perhaps pioneering a trend of their own. The NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) is alive and kicking the butts of those who have already forgotten our own culture. They have a year-round schedule of programs with activities geared to waken the Filipino in us. The Palanca Memorial Awards, a literary contest where winners in the screenplay and full length play categories have seen light in the theaters. And lately UNESCO came up with their Maipagmamalaki Ko campaign, in a noble desire to recover the lost pride of the Filipino people.
The arts is the mirror of the nation’s soul. And our soul will only wake up from the present nightmare when we finally shed off that craze mentality of ours.