Learn More About The Philippines via Korean Documentaries

Every night free TV Channel 13 shows these Korean documentaries made for a Korean audience about the Philippines.

Last week I caught one about how Pinoys like music so much and how it is so ingrained in our culture. A few minutes ago I just finished another one about eco – tourism in places like Bohol and some island I can’t remember. Both times weren’t fawnish or critical in any way. The music one covered showbands and young people joining and getting into bands to use as tickets to find gigs abroad, while at the same time featuring people like Charice Pempengco and a band or two that were into it purely for love of music. They even featured a tv channel in Cebu which shows old people singing ancient Bisaya songs live in a tone and pace unfamiliar to me and dissimilar to Kundiman. People just call a number flashed on the screen for requests and they oblige.

The more recent one I just finished discussed the near wasteland the Rice Terraces were turning out to be because their young people preferred working elsewhere or in tourism related jobs, effectively eroding the reason why tourists went there in the first place.

The second part of the same documentary featured a beautiful island somewhere (I didn’t get the name) and a mangrove forest in Bohol, both excellent examples of eco – tourism featuring a community that lovingly and painstakingly took care of the rich environment around them, which in turn took care of them by providing for their needs as well as allowed for sustainable tourism.

There are two things I take away from all this. First is that the old adage about how we tend to trust foreigners more than we do our own countrymen is blatantly true in this case. These documentaries aren’t National Geographic material. They are low budget and possibly funded by the Korean government, likely to help Korean Nationals in the country learn more about this place.

Given the budget look and feel, if I didn’t know any better I would assume they were Philippine government funded and instantly ignore them, which is probably why it took awhile for me to start paying attention as I have. A documentary done here, see, would feature some actor dressed as a farmer, soldier, teacher or some such hapless victim singing praises for Gloria every five minutes, and in consideration for my health and desire not to throw the TV out the window, the best course of action is to avoid these immediately.

Seeing these aren’t therefore, is almost like a breath of fresh air. The people they talked to, complete with translations, are completely ordinary Filipinos living their daily lives all over the country. The idea that I was watching something that was completely real is amazing, almost unbelievable really. It wasn’t dramatized, cheapened or made to look anything else other than what it was, and it appealed to me no end. It reminded me of Tiaong, Quezon. It was real.

The second thing I take from this, after having been subjected to that reality, is this: That we who live in the city are by far, a great deal poorer than those people who live in that small Bohol town planting mangroves.

Over here, we stress about money, our things, pollution, our health, social status, consider living abroad and all other idiocy. Over there, their lives revolve around taking care of that beautiful, life – sustaining forest that stretches from into the land and way out to the sea.

Where here we spend thousands of time and money to find things to amuse us, over there they find fulfillment in fish spawning eggs underneath the mangrove trees, assuring the growth of another generation. While we question the quality of our food and the air we breathe, learn about anti – oxidants and eye what we take in our bodies with suspicion, over there they feast on fresh oysters of different varieties, shrimp, various fishes and vegetables picked fresh from the trees, plants and water around them. They take just what they need to make sure there is more for them the next day.

I’m not saying I’m packing up and moving over there asap. But it has got me thinking. I’m gonna watch a few more of those documentaries to find out. But as of now, I’m thinking as long as I get internet, I can probably live anywhere, so why not over there? Thanks, strangely enough, to a Korean docu.

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