(This is a continuation and conclusion of my earlier post regarding the video created by Jimmy Sieczka, an American expat who has been living for three and a half years in Cebu City, the Philippines’ second largest city located in the south. In his video, which has gone viral and infuriated some sectors of the Filipino community, Jimmy enumerates 20 reasons he dislikes the Philippines. It also comes out barely three months after the Department of Tourism launched its new slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”)
In fact, as I also mentioned, there are quite a number of other annoying and disturbing habits, behaviors and way of life in the Philippines that I would have included. I admire the team’s courage and truthfulness. I appreciate their effort because it is what this country badly needs. A wake-up call is way overdue.
However, had they given the video a different treatment or approach, perhaps they would have generated a much more positive response from the Philippines government and Filipino people.
I for one, found Jimmy’s use of foul language quite offensive. The constant use of the f-word isn’t necessary. There are other less offensive ways of displaying disgust and irritation. This is where sensitivity to the audience and country’s culture would have proven beneficial.
I also didn’t appreciate that he was smoking for the entire duration of the video. It is a disgusting habit that hasn’t been kicked by a significant portion of the Filipino population. And it is this habit that has also greatly contributed to the country’s already worsening pollution, which ironically, is one of the reasons Jimmy dislikes the Philippines. Hello?!? Unless it was meant to make a parody of the situation, which wasn’t really all that clear to me.
Michael Goodman has also come up with another video entitled, “20 reasons why I love the Philippines.” In the midst of the fury of offended Filipinos, watching this “like” video makes it quite a challenge to cushion the blow resulting from the “dislike” video.
Calling on the behavior
Any country, individual, group, institution or culture has their own strengths and weaknesses, good and bad points. No one and nothing is spared.
But when correcting something or calling on someone’s behavior, a more effective approach is to begin with the positive, then bring up the negative or what needs to be corrected, and end again with the positive. Otherwise, if all that’s pointed out is the negative behavior, the person just gets defensive. It’s human nature.
Without curtailing their creative efforts or diminishing the impact of the message, if Michael Goodman and his team came up with only a single video that balances both the nice and not-so-nice (okay, ugly) things about the Philippines, even if the not-so-nice (okay, ugly) outweighs the nice, then perhaps, it would have been better received.
Make an appeal
A more effective approach on the video would have been to make an appeal to the local government or suggest ways to address the issues, rather than merely expressing disgust. If they showed genuine concern and wanting to effect change, then maybe, he would have gotten more cooperative efforts from the Philippines government. They probably would have gotten more appreciative responses from the Filipino people. Maybe it would have lessened the negative reactions. Maybe.
Dialogue with public officials
Perhaps also, as expressed by Cebu City Councilor Andales, had they approached first the city officials and presented their issues, before making the video public or uploading it on the Internet, there would have been lesser negativity and unnecessary damage. Maybe. Because who knows, had they done this, they may even have been banned to make such material public. What was revealed would have once more been swept under the rug.
Cater to the Filipino humor
Another more effective approach would have been to cater to the Filipino brand of humor. It is so unique that unless you’re from this country, you really wouldn’t be able to get the humor or the jokes even if they’re translated to the English language. You need to immerse yourself in the Filipino culture. And I can already imagine Filipino actor/comedian/director/parodist Michael V delivering the same message. That would have been hilarious yet still effective. Maybe.
Because making it more pleasant and less brutal on the other hand, may have been all the more reason to ignore their appeal, and to dismiss Jimmy as just one unhappy and ungrateful foreign tourist, or just another “hater”.
No need for apology
Jimmy’s apology was an admirable act and well-worded.
I appreciate that while he stood by what he observed and depicted in the video and didn’t retract his observations, he clearly stated and expressed that he was “very open and amenable for an apology, [only] on the manner and means that I exercise my right”.
And yet, if more thinking went into the video‘s creation, and some of the above suggestions were taken into consideration, then maybe there wouldn’t have been any need for an apology — especially coming from a tame and lame-sounding Jimmy, a far cry from the confident and fearless narrator in the video.
You got the Philippines’ attention alright
We’re all entitled to our own opinion and we cannot please everyone. There will always be a dissenting opinion. Someone is bound to be a party pooper. We are also entitled to our own reactions and responses, and we all have our triggers.
After all that’s been said and done, I really don’t know what the real and ultimate intention is for having come up with these videos. To inform, to warn, to entertain, to educate, to present the truth, for fun, to instigate change. Who knows?
The team though surely got the Philippines’ attention. But maybe not quite the expected, desired, or even appropriate reaction. The Filipinos also need to learn to not take things too personally, I must add.
The power of social media
Clearly, the power of social media is once more demonstrated. Yet the convenience of technology does not take away our personal responsibility for all our actions and words — both when publishing and commenting. We need to practice discretion and judgment in the appropriate use of social media and restraint in our right to freedom of expression, a right that Jimmy pointed out in his apology that he “was just exercising”.
As I continue to reflect on this event and what I’m learning, I silently rejoice and pray for the cleansing and healing that this opportunity brings. This is only one of the countless manifestations of the Great Shift that’s happening, whether we are aware of it not, whether we believe it or not. It is a time of cleansing. A period of purging. Things are eventually going to come up to the surface for healing.
May we all be humbled and may we all come out of this wiser and kinder — to ourselves, to others, and to Mother Earth.
And because what happens at the individual level affects the collective, as every Filipino is touched and transformed, knowingly or not, may transformation take place for the rest of humanity and all of creation.
I am also being reminded of ways that I can extend and practice the following: Compassion. Empathy. Understanding. Forgiveness. Patience. Respect. Acceptance. Trust. Faith. Surrender. Wisdom. Love. Light. And yes, Humor.
And I just had an epiphany moment.
The Philippines is so full of surprises, sometimes too twisted for a normal person’s imagination. Knowing the Filipinos’ obsession for fair complexion (remember, Jimmy pointed this out in his video), and how you’re more assured of making it as an actor if you’re fair-skinned, I wouldn’t be surprised if down the road, Jimmy Sieczka finds himself being offered a shot at the entertainment industry! As a local saying goes when something unfathomable happens, “Only in the Philippines!”
Come to think of it, maybe that was really Jimmy’s intention! Then we can truly claim that,
Awit, J. (2012). City Hall reshuffle part of response to video: mayor. Retrieved March 21, 2012 from Sun Star Cebu website: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/local-news/2012/03/20/city-hall-reshuffle-part-response-video-mayor-212129
Goodman, M. (2012). 20 reasons I dislike the Philippines. Retrieved March 19, 2012 from ChannelFix website: http://www.channelfix.com/video/174/
Goodman, M. (2012). 20 reasons I love the Philippines. Retrieved March 23, 2012 from ChannelFix website: http://www.channelfix.com/video/109/
Mendoza, S. (2012). DOT slams expat’s ‘why I dislike PH’ video. Retrieved March 20, 2012 from Yahoo! News website: http://ph.news.yahoo.com/dot-slams-expat-s–why-i-hate-ph–video.html
Pareja, J. (2012). Andales calls off persona non grata resolution vs “dislikes” video author. Retrieved March 23, 2012 from Philstar.com The Filipino Global Community website: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=789739&publicationSubCategoryId=107
Sieckza, J. (2012). Jimmy Sieczka’s official response and apology to the video “20 Reasons I Dislike the Philippines”. Retrieved March 23, 2012 from ChannelFix website: http://channelfix.com/profile/450/
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