Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tragedy of the Commons...

This is yet the most tragic experience the Philippines has seen in the entertainment industry. More or less 74 people dead, more than 200 injured, and scores of people shocked. That was what the tragedy known to many as the Wowowee Anniversary tragedy left ULTRA last Saturday, February 4. Seeing the footages on TV makes us feel shocked, distressed and disturbed. I could only imagine how Willie Revillame feels right now. As I watched the coverage on TV, I can’t help but feel awed and depressed with the thought that people died trying their luck to win some money.

Reports showed that hundreds of people have already flocked the front gate of ULTRA as early as Wednesday, February 1, hoping to be one of the first three hundred people to win an instant 20,000 pesos. As I have heard, Wowowee promised to give P20,000 each to the first 300 people to enter the ULTRA. In a place where there is very little opportunity for the poor, people would grab promotions such as this just to earn extra cash, even if it means toill and trouble from falling in line to pushing and shoving. This alone is a tragedy waiting to happen. And then, at around 7:45 in the morning, a few hours before Wowowee’s Anniversary show, the stamped occurred.

As what our column writers have already written in their respective columns, this tragedy just reflected how much poverty-stricken our society is now. Our people have become even more desperate to the point that they rely on chance, risking their time and lives to win some. If you could examine closer, lines in lotto stations have become longer. Off track betting stations are flocked by more bettors. Game shows continue to thrive the local TV stations, even in the most obscure channels. People have somehow shifted to chance as a way to improve their lives because, in a way, they have lost faith in relying on legitimate sources of income.

Considering this current state of society today, it is rather unfortunate to see networks capitalizing on the needs of the poor to get high ratings and revenues. These shows continue to exploit the people’s dire need for money in the guise of charity and games with big jackpots. People are being used for popularity contest. Afterwards, networks brand it as if they are helping uplift the lives of the poor. This “messianic complex” has an even more negative effect on the poor. Now, joining game shows and betting on chance have been a way of life for some.

If there is one thing to blame for the tragedy, it’s the network’s irresponsible treatment of their flock. Providing help for the poor does not end in giving cash prizes. It extends to proper treatment and care. And I think that is more important. Treating them nicely makes them winners in their own right even before they get to win cash prizes. Proper management of contests is one thing to consider when it comes to game shows.

I remember that during the time of the Pera o Bayong success, Magandang Tanghali Bayan hosts kept on boasting that the ABS-CBN studios were being flocked by thousands of people just to join their game. They said that the people sleep on the streets just to get their chance to win a million pesos. Mind you, it was not worth noting.

I am not biased over Eat Bulaga or anything, but they exemplify the more responsible management of a game show. In their segment Laban o Bawi, they pre-draw the 20 or so people that will join their elimination round, will make them wear shirts specified for the contest, and will honor only those with complete requirements. According to informal sources, people who want to join Laban o Bawi will have to leave their names in a piece of paper and give them to the officers-in-charge in the studio, and will just wait for their names to appear on TV. In this way, the show prevents the risk of a raucous crowd hours before their shows. They even provided the people the feeling of being winners by exposing their names on screen.

This is a painful lesson given to all shows nationwide. The ULTRA tragedy teaches us that poverty is prevalent, but providing people with temporary relief through giving out prizes in games shows does not solve the problem. It does not end in giving money…

I like what Conrado de Quiros wrote in his column last Monday, February 6, to quote: “But as many Filipinos know by now-courtesy of the text messages that flew thick and fast after the event-the real culprit in this disaster is poverty. A friend of mine put it this way, "Grabe pare, the only things that are keeping the poor going these days are luck and alms." That sounds even more plaintive in Tagalog. Another said the tragedy showed the true face of the economy. It is not 51 to 1, which is the conversion rate of the peso, it is 74 to 1, the conversion rate of lives to survival.”
“What can I say? I agree completely. What differentiates the tragedy last Saturday with the ones that came before it is that people went there out of dire straits, out of desperation, out of need to make some money. And they pushed and shoved and trampled with a ferocity reserved only for their life-and-death struggles. Kapit sa patalim. Surviving by the skin of your teeth. At least the victims of the collapse of the Colgante Bridge in Naga were there to show religious devotion to their Ina. At least the fans that were stampeded to death at Amoranto were there to show devotion to their rock gods. The children, women and men who were crushed to death at Ultra were there to cling to life. They were there trusting in God, luck and gratuity. That is the greatest tragedy of all.”

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ateneo Basketball League 2006

We’re almost halfway through the ABL season 6. So far, things have been going our team’s way. The Year of the Dog must be a lucky year for team AHS 4F 98. (Background: Our ABL team, Team AHS 4F98 has been joining the ABL for three years now. It was named such because we were classmates under section 4F and graduated in 1998. Not all players of this team are from 4F, but they were, in a way, adopted by our section.)

We made sensational records for our franchise team this year (yes, franchise! Feeling NBA! Hehehe). First, we made three consecutive wins this season. This has never happened before, except the other way around. We experienced losing twice in a row. And thrice, and four times. Even five. And six. And seven… darn…

Second, our team has a player vying for MVP. That is, ladies and gentleman, Mr. Juaqui Gutierrez. He is, I think, 2.5 statistical points higher this week than his MVP rival, Erwil Pasia. We also have at least five players in the statistical leaders, myself included… hehehe…

Third, We recorded the most wins in a season, tied with our career best, that is two years ago. Hopefully, we break the record by winning the next game.

Fourth, we broke barriers in terms of winning a game despite trailing in the third quarter. Historically speaking, we never won a game where we were trailing by the end of the third quarter. However, last Sunday, despite an 8-point deficit, we came back in the fourth quarter and won by 7 points, special thanks to the treys delivered by Jayvee Reyes, our team’s Sharpshooter.

And lastly, it is in this season where we posed the most pictures!!! Juaqui never fails to take a good shot of our final score and our team in the end game. Ayos! Hehehe…

A series of achievements and a winning streak… With this trend we might be able to take our first trip to the final four, and finally to the finals!!!


4F98 at Game#2 vs. Team Genuino


Trivia, trivia

Did you know: The only Filipino who has beaten our current-day hero Manny “The Pacman” Pacquiao during his early days was Rustico Torrecampo. He won by way of knock out! Today, Torrecampo sells bicycle-mami in his hometown and has given up boxing.