Thursday, March 02, 2006

Take Two

I shouldn’t be here; I shouldn’t be making a new post on my blog. I’m supposed to be up to my neck completing a lot of things because the truth is, I indeed am. I’m chasing various deadlines that sometimes make me wish I were on another planet in the solar system, one that has 72-hour days.

But there’s something so funny and surreal on TV these past few days that often, I find myself gaping at it.

For example, notice how everybody from ABS-CBN makes their report on the Wowowee stampede; notice how subtly they shift the blame on somebody else. It’s so subtle and clever I bet so few actually sense it. There’s this committee report where the general drift of investigation only superficially touches on the company itself; even the bleeding-heart commentaries of anchors like Ces Drilon and Dong Puno deftly sway opinion and focus on the emotional appeal of those deaths, and very rarely on liability.

It’s so clever I actually find myself admiring the sons of bitches.

Before anybody makes a mistake in perception, I don’t hate ABS-CBN. I have friends and former classmates from Adamson U. who are working for that company. In fact, many in my Friendster list must hate this post for the simple reason that they wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds them

I admire ABS-CBN because it’s an efficient money-making machine, and for me, that’s cool. I don’t hate big business; in fact, I’m a big fan. I’m an aspiring hot-blooded entrepreneur myself. I’m a true-blue capitalist; I’m probably the Filipino version of Joseph Heller’s Milo Minderbinder, only nuttier.

As an aside, I’ve been spending the past many months crafting my business models while everybody else was busy blaming the government. For me, and it’s probably just personal, but I think the government is a dead horse (“kicking a dead horse” refers to the concept of futility), and kicking it is something that doesn’t appeal to me. On the other hand, I’m getting a big kick out of the fact that while many people blame the government for many things they couldn’t do (lack of capital, opportunities, etc), I’m actually not needing the government and doing exactly what I want; through slightly naughty ways, yes, but that’s not the point.

The point is, if you suddenly decide not to need the government and not to blame it for your own woes, and just do it like that Nike ad campaign, the amazing thing is you actually can. You might stumble in your first few tries, you might find yourself bankrupt in your first attempt at business, but that’s all right—things like that separates the grain from the chaff, the men from boys. As the Bible said: Don’t mess with me; you are Hulk Hogan, so get up!

I don’t hate companies like ABS-CBN just because it’s such a huge juggernaut of a cash cow. I love the cheesy ways it innovates just to flatten the competition; their exclusive coverage of all things Manny Pacquio, for example, is simply a wonderful financial masterstroke. Remember how GMA Network’s Arnold Clavio would beg sheepishly for an interview? I never thought I’d live to see something like it, but there it was. Everybody was an outsider, except ABS-CBN. It was as if they’d built a fence around Manny Pacquiao.

And I’m still awed at the way they made Pinoy Big Brother such a business success.

Has anybody actually done the numbers? I did. And here I am speaking as somebody who hates numbers. If you’d try to figure out how much the company earns from “text-ins” alone, even if it’s just a ballpark figure, the numbers would make you salivate. Now, compare that number to the amount shows like Wowowee actually dishes out to people, you’d realize it’s chump change.

Add that money to the amount ABS-CBN is paying for medical and funeral expenses of the victims, you’d realize it’s chump change.

Barya lang.

Personally, I love money; lots of it. I love how having oodles of money can let you do cool things like produce a movie like Syriana or a Web application like Google Earth or maybe have somebody like starlet Keanna Reeves stay for the night.

That’s why I don’t hate ABS-CBN in the way a spurned lover would feel. There’s nothing personal about it. But right now, the truth is, if I could drag this company into a room, I’d beat it to pulp using Manny Pacquiao’s left fist (or is it the right fist?). If it has an ass, I’d kick so hard it would forget its own abbreviated name.

ABS-CBN made a big fuck up; they should pay big. Not to me, not to the God of Lip Service, but to the victims’ families. Maybe give each of them a house and lot, or a million, or something that would finally let them “fish on their own.”

These days, this country is really darkly funny it drives people so mad. But maybe there’s something good about it; in Shakespeare’s plays, often the insane characters are the ones who clearly see the truth. Maybe after everyone has cleaned and rinsed the shit that hit the fan, things would be clear. Things would be as bright and sunshiny as that Sunday morning song.

But I won’t hope for it. ABS-CBN is after all a media juggernaut; only somebody from Hell like Ferdinand Marcos could bring it down to its knees (dragging with it the whole country, too), and I don’t see anybody now of Marcos’s caliber.

But in the highly unlikely event that the company would make the kind of “change” Saul met on the road to Damascus, that would be so astounding, so uncharacteristic, it would probably feel like discovering a new species of toad in the African continent.

If ABS-CBN suddenly decides that, okay, let’s give all these people just compensation—and more—it would feel as surprising as finding a naked Katrina Halili in my room.

If ABS-CBN does that, I’ll eat my hat.

For similar posts, see Bullshit Meister.

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