Saturday, October 24, 2009

And on on the other side of the AdCon coin...

I have read the article on AdCon Overall Chair Margot Torres’ rationale on the decision to move this year’s Ad Congress to Subic, and while I still do not agree with the decision, I must admit I see their point.

For all of us up here, the reasons behind the AdCon pullout are baseless: students have gone back to school, the malls, restaurants, sidewalks, etc. are once again filled with people, transportation systems to and from Baguio have gone back to normalized. While we can still see evidences of Pepeng’s destruction in certain areas, things have certainly begun to normalize in the City of Baguio. With everything in place, add to that the hard work already put in by those directly involved, Baguio’s ready and very much capable to host the 21st AdCon. But sadly, that’s not how they see it.

Or more accurately, that’s not exactly how things are presented to the rest of the them over there 250 kilometers away. Examples:

Heard on a TV news report: “90% OF BAGUIO IS IN DANGER OF LANDSLIDES.” Ninety percent! From our house, I look at the five houses up the road and the other four down, and I’m thinking – which one of these ten houses would probably be left standing should a landslide occur? Out of the city’s 129 barangays, which 12 or 13 are lucky enough to be free from potential danger?

Net-izens are also talking about another news report that said residents of Crystal Cave were being evacuated, when according to someone who actually lives there only those whose houses happen to be situated on sinking areas are being asked to evacuate. But a whole barangay being evacuated does make for a better sound bite than just a few houses, doesn’t it?

Headline online: “PEÑALOSA OPENS HIS GYM TO PACQUIAO AS ‘RAMIL’ KOs BAGUIO CAMP.” KO as in knock out? I pass by Coyeesan Hotel Plaza, where Manny Pacquiao has spent the last few weeks training for his upcoming fight, I have even been buying supplies at the hardware store located there – the place pristine, fully-functional, in fact in our area it’s the only structure that continues to enjoy electricity even if there’s a blackout because of its industrial generator that can power the whole building.

Oct. 11 headline: “REPORT: RICE AT P60/KG, FUEL STOCK RUNS LOW IN BAGUIO CITY.” On that day, I went to the city market, and while there were some rice stalls that were obviously running low on stock, I bought 5 kilos of that “aroma” rice variety at 40/kilo. And while there were some gas stations that have closed down, I was able to fill up the car with P500 worth of gasoline.

The story that had “VICTIMS RELOCATE TO MANSION HOUSE” as headline turned out to be a mere photo op, and the supposed evacuees were allegedly sent back home as soon as the cameras stopped rolling. To add grave insult to grave injury, we even learned that some of those who were bused there to receive relief goods later found out that inside those bags were tattered rags.

That’s just the way it is… “dog bites man” takes the inside pages while “man bites dog” takes the front page. We all know that media relies on advertising for revenues, advertising is all about reaching as many people as possible, and sensational headlines promise a wider readership/viewership.

Think about it, why would the organizers go on with the planned staging of the 21st Advertising Congress in a city where according to the headlines, there’s only roughly five square kilometers of space that can be considered safe in this city with a total land area of 49 square kilometers? Or where a gym has been “knocked out,” which to me brings to mind the images of a collapsed building? Where prices of commodities have doubled? Where even the president’s official residence has been turned into an evacuation center?

So much has been said about this issue showing that this particular coin has more than just two sides, and I believe that one of those sides shows the ugly face of sensationalism in media as among the reasons for this brouhaha.

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