My first day in Manila I sat in an office at ABS-CBN and read one of the city’s more reputible newspapers, the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The headline for the lead story was …
GMA advised: No EVAT
I had no idea what it meant, and the first thing I thought was that copy editors in the United States have been fired for lesser offences. So I started reading the story to decode the acronyms — and because I didn’t have anything else to do. The first thing I figured out was that EVAT stands for “expanded value added tax.” Jargon, jargon, jargon. It took me a while, but I also figured out that the tax is added to almost everything in the Philippines, that that the government, primarily President Arroyo, wants to raise the tax to pay off some debt (something this country seems to have a lot of).
Next, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what GMA was. And it was in almost every headline! It finally hit me when I read the seventh story about the president — GMA stands for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
I can just picture the headlines if this type of headline writing was used in the States.
GWB relaxes at CTR (Crawford, Texas ranch)
SC rules on SSM (Supreme Court rules on same-sex marriage)
My head hurts just thinking about it.
And let me tell you, the journalism just keeps getting better and better. On the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer a few days later was a photo of a woman reading … the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The cutline was about her reacting to Arroyo impeachment news. Now that’s some creative photo editing. This Monday in the Philippine Star was a photo of a protest at the People Power monument. Protests usually have plenty of visually stimulating material. But this photographer decided to take a picture of the paper’s own lifestyle columnist at the protest. And it ran. Ug.
But I think the headache of the week award goes to the Daily Inquirer for a story about why expats choose to live and stay in the Philippines. It’s not the topic that I dislike, but the blatant editorializing on this page 1 story. This is perhaps my favorite part about why it’s great to live in the Philippines.
Many foreigners have perceived in the Philippines a special mystical quality connected to the Divine which has escaped most Filipinos. In Europe there is none of that since they have willfully destroyed the connection by prohibiting the teaching of religion or any spirituality.
I believe an editor should have willfully destroyed that story. Or at least done some editing.
The country has a free press, which is more than many countries on this side of the world can say. I can’t even count the number of daily newspapers in Metro Manila; and there are three independently owned TV stations (that I know of). It’s most frustrating to read terrible stories knowing that the press here has so much potential.