And today, on early morning TV, I’d find Julius Babao asking the girl’s mother very “emphatic” questions.
Julius: Cheryl seemed a young girl with high ambition. What were her dreams before this accident happened?
Mother: [some standard lines like Cheryl wanted to finish college to go abroad, etc, etc.]
Julius: And now, what do you think will happen to those dreams?
Let’s all pause to ponder the wisdom behind these questions; this is the part where you have to scratch your head.
Time for some flash back.
[Flashback; music: “Maalaala mo kaya”]
July 16, 1990 earthquake: a reporter shoves a microphone to somebody pinned down by a huge rubble from a destroyed hotel in Baguio. The reporter asks awesome questions like, “What do you feel? Is it painful?”
The interviewee couldn’t even answer; there’s a huge boulder on his back and he’s gasping. It’s clear as daylight that he’s “fine and well and happy” in his situation. His face surely says, More Questions Please.
He’s dead many hours later, still trapped under the boulder. Oh, the reporter wove that into a touching narrative, too.
March 1996, Ozone disco fire: a smooth-skined reporter asks one of the burn victims, whose face looks like a horribly melted candle that sort of reminds you of Audrey, Jr. from the Little Shop of Horrors: one look at him and you know his life will never be the same again.
The reporter asks, “How do you feel now that you’ve been burned [implied: “and you look disgusting”] and your life will never be the same again?”
The interviewee tries to speak, but nobody could understand him. It’s tough to mouth out words when your lips have melted and you have no mouth to speak of (and to speak with). So the reporter interprets the burn-victim-with-no-lips language for the benefit of the audience eating dinner in their homes.
[end of sentimental flashback and music]
Julius asks the mother: Now that she’s gone, what do you think will happen to her dreams?
It’s a “very important” question; one that Julius had to ask. A question that instantly made me dance around the room, yapping: yeah, rub it in, baby, rub it in. Until it’s raw and there’s no blood left. Drive it home for her the fucking magnitude of her loss. Make her actually say it, you shitbag.
Julius Babao’s “innocent, malice-free” questions make me sorely miss the vocation I’ve chosen not to take. All those good old days of “journalism.” I say, Bravo! I say, continue doing all that shit in the name of “uncovering” truth and justice and inserting fingers in somebody else’s deepest wounds. I say, more of these in-your-face MTV-like interviews with the dying and grieving for the benefit of us millions of insulated, safely-distanced voyeurs. We absolutely love that. We crave for that kind of stimulation every now and then.
If there’s a day in the future I might choose to be a “journalist” again, just to see for myself how far I could go with my own stunts, there’s nothing more reassuring than the likes of Julius Babao to keep me inspired and full of faith and hope for humanity. And yeah, throw in some of the Tulfos, too.