Going through files of printed materials and computer printouts for possible articles which can be carried in our website, I came upon a one-page random sampling of the themes and issues which the young, specially students, want to see tackled in our local films.
I remember FAP Director General Leo Martinez passing this piece of paper to me several months back, telling me if I can make an article out of the list of 21 relevant topics that young Filipinos want to see in our local films.
The piece of paper obviously got trapped in the bottom of files and it was just luck that extricated it from the sad fate of getting ignored and lost and never getting a chance to get printed as an article.
Trying to clear up the mess brought about by the pile-up of literary and printed materials, including magazines from the NCCA and even specialized journals for cinematographers, I sifted through the files and got hold of this unassuming piece of paper.
I glanced randomly through the title which simply read: Themes and issues for films suggested by students. Then the subsequent listing of 21 things which the surveyed students ticked off, apparently one after the other. And I surmise that they were listed as they were mentioned, as if noted down chronologically by a reliable stenographer.
As I ran down the list, what caught my fancy was the obvious broad cross-section of interests and issues that the young want to discuss and emphasize. It is as if they were trying to impress on us, the jaded elder folks, that there are many problems which we must face head on.
And it hit me like a bullet that these are ancient problems after all. That these are problems that we cannot ignore. Problems that we must collectively tame by the horns.
And what hit me harder was the fact that some of these problems were the same problems we were faced with when we were as young as these students speaking to us through one piece of paper and a 21-item list.
These are problems, in other words, that have been pestering through all these years. The sad fact is that we have become so jaded we lost track of them or simply thought we can sweep them under the rug by just brushing them away like flakes of dandruff.
I will be faithful to the listing as the themes and issues were listed down, having no reason to rattle them off alphabetically or to compartmentalize them as to subject and interest.
The first in the list is colonial mentality. We were still in high school when the battlecry against colonial mentality was still ringing in our ears. And that was about forty years ago.
Second on the list is weakening family ties. The disintegration of the family, we must admit, must be more threatening today that in our teenage years. In the 1960s, the stronghold that was the family was still formidable. But we are now heads of families and we are quite confident that family ties are still going strong. But the students might be speaking from experience and we must respect that too. There is nothing to lose if we crusade for fortifying the family as a strong social institution as before.
Number three is poverty and its effect on the youth. This, I think, is really reflected in surveys after surveys that poverty has become a wide-spreading dark and ominous cloud over our land.
Number four is child and youth labor. The young must be starting to work earlier that we once did. Thus this high listing. If we can only delve deeper into this, we will surely be running into labor abuses that victimize the young.
Fifth is quarter life crisis. I don’t quite get this one but I think they are referring to problems that hound the young even before their mid-life years.
Number six is family expectations. And we must hear from them what really are their own parents and siblings expecting them to achieve. Modest ambitions or suntok sa buwan aspirations. I think that the young today are really shooting for the moon. No problem about this but we must impress on them that there are little things that still mean a lot and contentment is easily attained if you set your goals moderately.
Peer pressure appears as number 7. A larger population surely pits more young people against young people. Peers will be expecting more from everyone else. The pressure builds up. The strong and the determined will survive.
What to do with your life is number 8. Theirs is not a lost generation. But their interests are surely mind-boggling with the technological advances we are seeing today. The problem is actually there are so many things you can do with your life. Choosing the right thing is a dilemma that will refuse to go away. Things are not as simple as in our younger days. Thus the need to be always on your toes. What you want to do with your life might come at a moment’s notice. It might overtake you without you knowing it.
The ninth is freedom without responsibility. This again is a balancing act for our youth today. It only means that you can do whatever you want and be responsible for its consequences. Simply put. Simply kept at the back of your mind.
Pre-marital sex comes as number 10. In our days, pre-marital sex becomes a problem when you turn 16. Today, sad to say, it becomes a problem much earlier that sweet sixteen.
Number 11 is the problem of how technology both connects and isolates. Times are really becoming much more complicated. But this problem can be solved if you can just harness technology. In other words, don’t let technology control you. Do it the other way around.
Excessive importance to trends and fads is number 12. We had this problem too. Let’s just hope that everything will just be a passing fancy.
Number 13 is apathy. I presume they mean social apathy. Apathy from whom? Parents? The members of the older generations? Their peers?
Lack of education and how it limits young people’s awareness of reality and their future prospects is number 14. The growing number of out-of-school youth is counter-balanced by the fact that education does not come from schools exclusively today. Young people are street-smart today because of media and other sources of informal education. Learning can be an individual undertaking. That is more relevant today that yesteryears.
Fifteenth is a quick fix attitude. Actually, we had this same problem even in our youth. What we do after the quick fix is what becomes important nowadays. Young people today can think of the long-range after the quick-fix. In effect, quick fix is just first aid.
Convenience produces spoiled brats is number 16. Same problem in our days. But young people today admit that being spoiled is just a phase, not for life.
Seventeenth in the list is excessive individualism. We can view individualism as both a boon or a curse. You can either prove being individualistic is positive or negative. I think there is nothing wrong in being excessively individualistic. If you can write the Great Filipino Novel by being individualistic, don’t tarry, fella. Be one.
Dream of a better life abroad is number 18. The brain drain will just persist. So sorry, folks.
Drugs is number 19. So what else is new but the deadlier and more lethal kinds of drugs that can really hit our young like a sledge hammer. Follow the advice: Just say no!
Number twenty is broken home lifestyle. Akin to weakening family ties. But there are so many cases now of young people making their mark inspite of coming from broken homes. Broken homes, I am happy to say, do not necessarily make broken sons or daughters.
Last in the list at 21 is excessive fixation on celebrity and gossip. What can I say but confess to the fact that this is also a failing of the older folks.
The list ends here. Just look at this list with rose-colored glasses. These are problems, yes. But problems are meant to be confronted and solved. Don’t let lists like this sap the confidence out of you. See you until the next list from you, young folks, comes around