Friday, March 28, 2008

Rice and Reporter Education in the Philippines.

The news tonight are headlining the rise in price of rice (what a distracting alliteration!) and how it is affecting the majority of the population. According to the reporter, this increase is making life difficult for the country and the government must do something about it or risk an uprising from a hungry population.

I am a real filipino and I am in the majority and I tell you, this is not true. Stupid reporters from Manila are always wrongly assuming that Manila is the entire Philippines! If you know this reporter, please tell her that the majority of filipinos are rice farmers and that an increase in the price of rice benefits them. Please tell her also, that when prices are forced down so as to enable the population of Manila (who cannot feed themselves) to have their cheap rice in Chowking and Jollibee, it is the poor farmers of the provinces who are being immolated.

It really saddens me when I eat at Chowking in Manila and observe diners munch on their chicken legs and then barely touch their cheap rice. This leftover rice is then thrown away by Chowking. How can I explain to these people that for each sack sold, the farmer is getting less than a third of the market price? From that meager share the farmer has to pay for transportation, for drying, for irrigation, for the seeds, for labor, and for the fertilizer. Is it any wonder that the typical filipino rice farmer is poor and heavily in debt?

Unfortunately, none of the so-called intelligent reporters in Manila are aware of this. They eat at their high priced restaurants and never stop to ponder that everything they are consuming is produced outside of Manila. They never stop to consider the fact that Manila is not the Philippines. All they care about is that the vegetables in Munoz Market increased and that the government or some trader has to be blamed for this. It never enters their concern that a higher price will benefit the real but invisible majority of the country: the farmers.

Years ago, I read of a journalism student from the University of the Philippines who graduated Magna Cum Laude. This student was featured on the Philippine Daily Inquirer because he happened to be a scholar of the newspaper. In the article, this student bragged about how he was able to graduate from the supposed premier university of the country while having borrowed and read less than twenty books from the university library! The UP library has thousands upon thousands of books. Yet, this person is bragging about not having taken advantage of this vast intellectual resource. Instead, he bragged that he has learned more by joining protests and listening to some random loser vent his frustrations on the streets of Manila.

I was aghast when I read about the limited reading of this graduate of UP Diliman. Even if one only reads the Harvard Classics Library without reading any other required textbooks, one will have already read over 50 books! How can this student graduate magna cum laude while borrowing and presumably reading only 20 books in his entire student career? Has UP become a diploma mill also?

UP is known for its leftist ideology and I am sure that scores of UP professors and UP students will castigate me for my contrarian view of what constitutes a proper education. An education in the streets of Manila is enough for most of these UP intellectuals.

That may be good enough for a liberal arts major but this is a journalism student we are talking about. There is a good probability that this student will become a reporter and may even be a reporter of ABS-CBN, GMA or PDI right now. His reports will be read by thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands of readers. He will write as if he understood what he is writing about and readers will believe him. But due to his limited intellectual maturity he will make the same tunnel-vision mistakes that Manila-based reporters are making now.

  • He will be persuaded that Manila is the entire Philippines. As he swims in the murky concerns of the capital city, he will have the conviction that the concerns of Manila are the concerns of the entire country!
  • He will listen to only one side of a story and will not entertain the possibility that interviewees can have agendas and can lie.
  • He will be ignorant of economics and will believe that hoarding is the primary cause of price increases. He will be for keeping the price of commodities so low and he will be oblivious to the plight of the impoverished farmers outside of Manila.
  • He will be ignorant of history and philosophy and will be prone to influence from the nearest pseudo-intellectual. That pseudo-intellectual is invariably a male dressed in robes, wearing a cross, and spouting nonsense about economics, marriage, human morality, ethics, medicine, biology, the judicial system and other difficult topics for which he only has very limited knowledge.
  • And most egregious mistake of all, he will believe the premier and most exclusive university in the country is the University of the Philippines. (Can you guess the honest-to-goodness most exclusive school in the country?)

Now that I have written the above rant-list, it suddenly struck me that most of the reporters known nationally are graduates of UP! Maybe that is why there is so much drivel on TV news reports today.


Post a Comment

<< Home