I believe that the media has persuaded me to buy something, be it a tangible product, a plain idea or an ideology, or change of mindset. Question is, did I perceive that “effectiveness” assuming that the media has been effective in doing so? Why? And has it unconsciously manipulated how I view the world? These, in a nutshell, lead me to carefully reflect on how the media has affected me in the process and explore the realities which have been “mediated” in my life.
I was born October 1986, roughly a few months after the end of Martial Law and the start of the Aquino administration. My life was pretty simple then. I lived in our small community in Carmen, North Cotabato. From what I can remember, news stories were presented through word of mouth, gossips, radio, and the like. The battery-operated radio owned by my maternal grandparents did help in making us informed about what was happening in the country and the world as well.
Furthermore, at this early age, my idea about other countries (in Europe) in particular was influenced by postcards. My uncles sent postcards to my grandmother whenever they were in Europe during this time. Several images were brought about by these postcards: tulip fields and those weird colorful shoes in the Netherlands, botanical clock/Broken Chair in Geneva, and other scenic spots in Europe. These images somehow painted a beautiful scene of these countries in my mind, prompting me to have this vision: that I will go to Europe in the future. I really find it amazing how these postcards (that was coupled with the stories of my uncles) prompted me to have that dream when I was young.
When I started schooling in 1991 (I was five years old then), our family transferred to my father’s hometown in Arakan (still in North Cotabato) and lived next to my paternal grandparents’ house for five years. Many changes got in during this time. For one, I went to school for the first time and was introduced to print media. At that time, I was able to learn the basics–how to write (my name and a few words, count, play with colors, etc. For another, I was introduced to television. My paternal grandparents owned a black-and-white TV, enabling me to watch some memorable TV shows when I was in kinder until my early years in elementary. The list includes Ang TV (I still hear that Nge!), Cedie Ang Munting Prinsipe, Si Mary at ang Lihim na Hardin, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Mara Clara, Mathinik, Sineskwela, Epol Apple, Milyonaryong Mini and Home Along Da Riles.
Some shows illustrates the idea that life, in general, is light and that I can laugh at it. Ang TV, Home Along Da Riles, and Milyonaryong Mini gave me some good laugh during these years. How could one forget the jokes presented in these shows? The jokes in Ang TV (often followed by Nge!) and fun times in Cosme’s place along the riles? Milyonaryong Mini, on the other hand, never failed to give the same fun element. This Cebuano TV series became part of the afternoon in our place. This was memorable for me because the actors in this show were supposed to go to Arakan sometime 1996 or 1997. I even bought a ticket for it. Unfortunately, that supposed visit did not take place. Apart from these comedy shows, Cedie also reinforced that idea, considering that I saw how he stayed optimistic despite the negative things that took place when he stayed when his grandfather. Indeed, this idea about life has helped me become a positive-thinker.
The other shows, on the other hand, introduced the concept of “bad” to me. In Cedie Ang Munting Prinsipe, I saw how the aristocrats belittle the people in lower social class. In similar vein, Si Mary at ang Lihim na Hardin introduced me to the overly pessimistic character of Mary’s cousin. And while the heroes in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers predictably overpowered that evil queen, it just showed what the evil forces were doing to do harm to the people. Finally, Cosme’s deception (he pretended that he was a rich guy) was not worth emulating (though it was funny for the most part).
Some of these shows listed early on also helped me learn more. Through its dynamic characters (I just remember the talking tree), Sineskwela explained scientific concepts (photosynthesis, atoms, etc). Mathinik, meanwhile, helped me by solving simple mathematical problems on screen. As for Epol Apple, it taught some English concepts (particularly the ABCs, English vocabulary, and English phonetics). These shows indeed are very helpful as they offered a dynamic way of teaching those concepts and skills. Looking back, I would have to admit that these TV shows have made learning so much fun and it did help me a lot in gaining new know knowledge and skills in Science, English, and Math.
In 1997, Right after Mama’s college graduation, we went back to her hometown (in Carmen). Radio days were in again. That was the only thing that we had. No more TV shows on a daily basis. As I was back to the radio era, I got hooked to:
- several radio programs including Handumanan Sa Usa Ka Awit (roughly translated as Memories of a Song), and Mr. Romantico.
- songs particularly Elton John’s Candle in the Wind and Celine’s Dion My Heart Will Go On
These programs somehow contributed to my emotional (or sentimental as it was termed at that time) nature. While these programs and songs depicted different stories, they, for the most part, had the same effect on me: they prompted me to cry. Handumanan Sa Usa Ka Awit Mr. Romantico tells several love stories (sugilanun). These radio programs were similar in a sense that they both presented love stories. I think these shows were the ones responsible for introducing the idea of love—from the happy/giddy moments, challenges that the lovers might encounter, to sad and happy endings.
Elton John’s Candle in the Wind and My Heart Will Go On likewise gave me that emotional feeling. From what I can remember, Candle in the Wind was repeatedly played on the radio at the time of Princess Diana’s death. What was really highlighted on the radio was that Diana was this and that and that she was a good person. Hearing those good things, in effect, prompted to think how unfortunate it was for Princess Diana to die so soon. And like Candle in the Wind, the soulful My Heart Will Go On, became the theme song of the AM radios at the time when Titanic 1997. I only heard my aunts (who live in DavaoCity and KidapawanCity) talked about that tragic incident and how it was portayed. And the love story embedded in the story, of course. Sometimes, I really could not help but cry whenever I heard that song.
After graduating from elementary, I went to KidapawanCity to pursue my studies and live with my uncle’s family (Mama’s older brother). This move then led to “music days” and Liwayway days.
MTV (Music Television) and Hot Radio 88.7 (a local FM station in Kidapawan) were big contributors for this. MTV exposed me to the music and music videos of Mandy Moore, Boyzone, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, Savage Garden, Britney Spears and other famous people in the music industry. Because of this fascination, I even had a notebook where I wrote all the Top 10 songs in a week. This eventually became a habit for a year or two. At that time, being updated to the countdown somehow marked the connection I have had with these music and the people involved in it. Additionally, I remember buying Westlife posters and posting in my room at that time. It seemed that they looked so handsome to me, and sometimes, I dreamed of having a boyfriend with green eyes.
My aunt back then was an avid reader of Liwayway. As this was one of the available readings at home, I managed to browse through the pages and got hooked to some comic strips and stories written by Reynaldo Duque. It was fun to read stories as they were presented in several strips. It was somewhat engaging as I could see the character themselves and read through their conversations.
I then transferred to TaguigCity in 2002 to finish the last two years in hightail. The highlights during these years include reality TV shows, the 9/11 Attacks, and my first cell phone.
- Reality TV shows were offered during these years. I remember myself wanting not to miss any episode of The Amazing Race. I love seeing places and watching how the teams would work with each other for the obstacles that they had to go through before going to the pit stop. This adventure-filled game showcases the cultures, sights, and sounds of the countries where these teams are having their race. Watching the show somehow is a-dream-come true for me as I really wanted to go to other countries and see what they have to offer.
- The 9/11 Attacks, I think, was the biggest news during this time. Until now, I can still see the crisp images of the collapsing Twin towers, the smoke, and other heart-breaking images –people crying, chaos seen everywhere, etc. This left me thinking how a superpower like America was not spared from massive terrorist attacks like this.
- Finally, I got my first cell phone. It was a second hand Nokia 5110. I was so glad to have one because of the pressure stemming from the fact that most of my classmates in high schools owned their cell phones.
During my college years, I was introduced to Friendster. My experience in social media sprang from those Friendster days. Like Facebook, this platform allowed its users to contact other members and share online stuff (photos, ect) with other members. Going online was limited for me at that time considering the cost. Thus, I didn’t go online most of the time. To my surprise, however, I found out later on that Friendster became a social gaming site and that all my photos stored on it were lost.
After graduating from college, I went back to Manila. The big news at that time was the 2008 Global Rice Crisis. From what I can remember, the price of rice ranges from 40-50 pesos at that time. That was quite a fortune at that time. During this time, I became part of the news as I experienced it myself. A few days after arriving in Taguig, my mother and my three brothers all lined up at NFA Taguig to buy rice for consumption.
In the following years, I got exposed to new thought literature.
Just recently, as recommended by some of my friends, I also got the chance to read The Secret, The Master Key System, and the like. These books primarily argue the notion behind positive thinking and that one’s mind is a powerful tool as thinking leads to doing. I was convinced with the arguments raised in these books and tried to think positively all the time. Admittedly, it’s a hard mental exercise and I find it delusional at times. Nevertheless, it has helped me a lot especially in dealing with my emotions. I now try to focus on the solution, not on dwelling on the problem alone. Additionally, I try to identify if there is an issue in the first place whenever I worry about petty things.
In the final analysis, it appears that the media really has had a tremendous influence on me—and that is demonstrated by the lessons I have learned along the way, new belief systems I practice, dreams I come up with, habits formed, mental images depicted, and the like. It is undeniably a part of me. 🙂