Recently, Filipinos have proven that if they work together towards a common goal, they will achieve it sooner rather than later. This was evident in the success of the hashtag #Aldub which is based on the names of the current most popular manufactured love team on television between Alden Richards and Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza. Millions of Filipinos worked hard to bring it to the top of the trending topic list on social networking site Twitter not just locally, but also globally.
Yes, it’s only Twitter and some of you might say that it’s not hard to type a few words along with a hashtag. However, the point is, millions of Filipinos both in the country and abroad have been focused for weeks now on one thing and one thing alone – to help a local television network win the battle of the ratings. And succeed they did. Executives of television networks like GMA Network have never been happier raking in the cash without spending too much money on publicity. The fans of the love duo were doing all the marketing for them for free.
Another group of people who are happy that most Filipinos are preoccupied or distracted by the love lives of two fictitious characters on television are the country’s public servants particularly President Benigno Simeon Aquino. With just a few months left in office, BS Aquino is likely to breeze through it and might even get good marks thanks to the high or feel good affects Filipinos are getting from the fantasy world provided by television.
The people who use television to escape from the harsh realities in the country tend to associate the happiness they feel when they watch their favorite show with contentment towards the performance of the current government. This is not good news at all for the future of the country. Filipino public servants can pretty much get away with murder and other criminal activities while the majority is glued to the tube.
The advent of social media has made it easier for people around the world to stay connected and to communicate. It should be helping Filipinos discuss topics and issues that can solve the problems plaguing the nation. Instead, most Filipinos are using social media for disseminating and exchanging shallow and useless information that will not help them grow as a people. It seems instead of helping the country move forward, technology is pulling Philippine society backward.
We cannot underestimate the power of social media. Most people get their news from Facebook and Twitter nowadays. That’s because when people are bombarded with too much information, their attention span gets shorter. So they simply rely on “news” people share on their newsfeed for the latest updates. The downside to this is that, a lot of people including Filipinos, have become lazy and could not be bothered doing their own research about what is really going on around them. This is why it is easy to feed people with propaganda and even easier to distract them with entertainment.
With the phenomenal success of the #Aldub using social media, one cannot help but think about the other more important issues that Filipinos should be bringing to the top of the trending topic. I can think of a few:
1. Traffic and flooding problem in the country particularly in Metro Manila.
2. Risk exposure to the effects of climate change and the need for better disaster preparedness.
3. China’s threat against our territorial claims on the West Philippine Sea.
4. High crime rate including threats from Islamic terrorists in Mindanao.
5. Energy and Water crisis.
6. High unemployment rate.
7. Appalling conditions of the victims of natural disasters.
8. Theft of public funds using mechanisms such as pork barrel and Presidential slush funds by public servants.
The importance of all of the above is self-evident. Most Filipinos experience the challenges of overcoming them on a daily basis. But unfortunately, they prefer to spend their time escaping in the world of trashy entertainment. If they continue to ignore these things, the country will continue its downward spiral. No amount of watching noontime shows can help them escape it. The good news is, if Filipinos work together towards these common goals, they will find the solution to their problems sooner rather than later.