Should Watching Philippine News Be An Important Part Of Your Life?

I’m not a regular TV viewer but recently I watched 24Oras over dinner with a couple of friends. That got me curious about the latest Philippine events so last night I opened Youtube and searched ‘24Oras’. After skimming through a few videos, one GMA7 investigative report caught my attention. It’s titled “Caught on camera: Barangay official killed in broad daylight.”

I skipped a lot of scenes watching this report too because all I wanted to know was what happened and what the motive for the crime was. But somewhere in the video I heard the featured pundit being interviewed and I thought his words would make a good material for an article. Then it segued into this post.

Here’s a summary of what happened:

A man was caught on CCTV shooting a barangay official dead, walking away, and shooting another man who made the fatal error of listening to the bystanders’ calls to stop the suspect. The killer slipped away but was eventually captured and admitted to the crime. If he is to be believed, his motive was revenge. According to him the official hired him to repair a couple of electric fans and slapped him in the face when he said the bill for the repairs was P400. Apparently the barangay official was surprised at the amount quoted and had too much superiority complex that he thought he could easily trample over another man’s dignity and get away with it.

Meanwhile, the police suspected that he is a hired killer based on the evidence that they gathered. Whatever the real motive was, the lessons that can be learned from this real life story are far more important than any purported ‘moral’ that teleserye producers (and teachers, in another video) are justifying their dumbing-down-of-society masterpieces with. Here are some examples of such real-life lessons, plenty of which should be common sense:

  • When you heard a shot fired and you see the suspect running away, never shout on people to apprehend him. This is exactly what the bystanders did and it cost an innocent man’s life (common sense rating: 5 of 5 stars).
  • Unless you know exactly what happened or you’re a cop, avoid giving in to your instinct when you hear people say, “stop that guy.” The guy might be armed and you may stop being a living human within a few seconds when your instinct is returned (CSR: 4).
  • Before letting any repair job push through, agree on a price first instead of determining what kind of price is fair after the repairs are done. If you fail to do this, an unnecessary argument is likely to occur or someone may carry a grudge that can lead to worse things (CSR: 5).
  • When you slap a poor man just because you have the power to, remember that you’re not just slapping someone who’s poor, you’re also slapping a man. You may have the power over him while you see him, but not while you don’t. Good if you manage to watch his every move 24/7, but that wouldn’t be fun. This also holds true if the policemen’s version of the story is to be believed (i.e. that the suspect is a hired killer) provided that the killer’s employer also held a grudge against the barangay official and was motivated by it (CSR:4).

This particular news story is not what you would want your mind to be exposed to everyday so if you watch it without learning from it, you’re doing yourself a disservice — you’re merely consuming stress. I bet a lot of the bystanders involved in that scene watch a lot of 24Oras but don’t really learn anything insightful from what they watch, otherwise they would have acted differently.

It’s not my habit to consume Philippine stress. For some reason I find imported stress more tolerable, not to mention a lot of imported news are not really stressful to watch. They’re also more meaningfully presented, both in terms of what they report and how they report it. If you’re a reasonable person you would have noticed long ago that televised Philippine stress is a bad product — the aftertaste is terrible. This is especially true when the news is about politics, things that don’t make sense but seem to make sense to a lot of people, and things that you know no lasting change can be done to because it is the people that need to change (frustration rating: 5 of 5 stars).

I have a friend in his 50’s who, like me, don’t watch the nightly local news. The obvious advantage of this is you’re able to avoid plenty of accidental consumption of stress, which in Philippine terms is not really accidental but routine. One disadvantage, however, is this: what if watching the news someday saves your life? What if one day it makes all the difference between you missing a leg and you having two legs to use for the rest of your life? If you deal with road rage aggressively, for instance, what if you cop a bullet in your brain because of it but not if you happened to watch a similar scenario on the news that influenced you to be less aggressive?

This is where a balance should be made. While I would recommend that you still watch the local news or read it, I would also suggest that you do it sparingly or else you’ll get sucked in on things that you can’t really do anything about. The disadvantages of watching the local news far outweigh the advantages especially if you have the common sense to make up for such advantages. Remember, consuming Philippine stress is not free. You have to pay for it with your time and emotion. And when you become emotionally invested in some of the issues, the return on your investment is not necessarily the best that you can get.

To be too busy to watch the news in the Philippines is better than to have too much time on hand to make it an ‘important’ part of your life.


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