Monday, August 19, 2013

Manila to Mindanao

Last night, I saw on BBC what I thought to be a travel documentary about the Philippines. Instead, I was treated to a disturbing social commentary that every Filipino should see. Explore with Simon Reeve is definitely not an ordinary travel series that gets stuck with beaches and views but is an extraordinary series documenting social and political issues in various countries.
 Somehow in merely an hour, Simon Reeve and his co-travelers were able to pinpoint the biggest problems that are ailing Philippine society. I was also amazed how he bravely asked direct questions to various people. The Manila to Mindanao episode addressed issues like the Banaue Rice Terraces, poverty, the Reproductive Health bill, the Badjaos, our diminishing forests, and the war in Mindanao.

What I saw on the show disturbed me greatly. I am hunted by visions of extreme poverty that this episode brought to my living room and consciousness. I was angered by the continuous refusal of the Catholic church to stop meddling in affairs of the government. I was shocked after listening to a teacher in Muslim Mindanao preaching to her students in class that they should fight for independence from the Philippines.

Every Filipino should see Explore: Manila to Mindanao. Somehow it puts everything in perspective.

Have you seen the Explore: Manila to Mindanao Episode? If yes, how did it affect you? How did you feel after seeing Imelda's Picasso and Gauguin? Were you also shocked to listen to a Muslim teacher goad her young students to war? Were you also appalled at the sermon of the priest against the Reproductive Health bill?


I saw that there will be another episode from the same producers about the Philippines entitled Sex and Religion in Manila. It will air February 19 at 23:20 (I guess UK time) on BBC2.

2013 Update:  I posted this in 2009 originally.  I reposted  it with the You tube link of the episodes. After 4 years, this documentary is still very much relevant unfortunately.

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Anonymous said...

i and the rest of the filipinos have watched manila to mindanao program of bbc. as soon as the program ended, i called my friend, as i felt so sad,frustrated and angry. sad because of the estate of our country. frustrated because we know something can be done to prevent poverty and restore our rich country but our government is not doing anything for it.angry for the lost of respect to our environment,loss of dignity,low standard of living,inappropriate war and for the church that still preaches that contraceptive is a crime but poverty is not.
the following morning i was very anxious to come to work just in case a collegue or anyone ask me about the reality of this documentary.

Anonymous said...

It was an interesting show, but to be honest, the BBC has been airing shows on these SAME topics in the Philippines since the fall of the Marcoses: all negative, hopeless documentaries aimed at showing what a "crap-hole" the Philippines is. Yet any travel shows on Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam do nothing but praise the natural beauty and typical tourist sites, and do nothing to address the social and political issues in those countries (in the case of Indonesia and Vietnam, much more dire than the Philippines, economically and in terms of human-rights abuses).

Despite the fact that Goldman Sachs is as confident in the new Philippine economy to name it one of the "Next Eleven" economies likely to become one of the most powerful countries in the near future (, I am completely vexed that the only image the Western media agencies present of the Philippines is one of a hopelessly poor Banana Republic, inhabited by ultra-religious and uneducated masses (whether Christian or Muslim) that are destroying themselves due to their ignorance.. Which is what the Explore show has seemed to propose. And that reflects a lot on the way westerners see Filipino people. I've studied Media Studies for 3 years, and know all about "cropping" setting up "icons", and in the case of any report or documentary shown on the Philippines, it is obvious what methods these journalists are using and for what end...

Have any of you stopped to ask yourselves why the BBC, CNN and others are only ever showing the negatives and never the positives of the Philippines??

I've read comments in online forums from non-Filipino people who believe that the Philippines is no better off than Afghanistan and Ethiopia, which just goes to show that; Number 1, Media organisations are able to manipulate and crop the image of the country to suit its tastes, and 2; how seemingly powerless and gullible the Filipino people are (whether abroad or at home) to be playing into these traps set by the media...

Questions must be asked why the Philippines is treated like "the sick man of Asia", while corrupt and equally-poor countries like China (no democracy and countless human rights abuses), India (Mumbai has the biggest slum on Earth; rigid class-system) and Thailand (political turmoil; similar southern conflict) are shown to be "progressive" and "tourist friendly"...

The Philippines tourist economy is one of the weakest in East Asia, and it is because of all of this "Philippine-bashing". Remember that foreign tourism had played a big part in strengthening the economies of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico to near-developed country status (despite the corruption in their respective governments) and yet the Philippines remains behind exclusively because of the stigma left by the media. It is time that Filipinos get more national pride and become proactive in challenging this unfair image-bashing of the country by foreign media agencies.

Cathy said...

The only way we can change our image is if we improve what is ailing our country. To say that this negative publicity is just due to media manipulation, etc. is not very productive. The BBC documentary showed nothing that was untrue. Four years later (I just saw the comments now, 4 years later), the BBC documentary is still true. Maybe now they will show the RH bill issue as well.