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“Basta” or why the RC Cola ad does not need your interpretation

By L.S. Mendizabal

I will not say how the ad goes because if you have been on social media the past week, you know the one. You’d also know that it has caused quite a stir among netizens with their reactions ranging from “Brilliant! Genius!” to “This is gross!” preceding an emoji that’s about to puke. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just google “RC Cola Commercial” and proceed at your own risk.

Full-blown reviews, analyses of and speculations about the ad have been circulating on Twitter and Facebook, and boy, are they some of the most entertaining, ridiculous things I’ve read in a while after Panelo’s speech for Duterte’s birthday. But what does the viral commercial really mean according to its creators? Gigil Advertising Agency co-founder Herbert Hernandez explains that they wanted to convey “a mother’s unconditional love.” “The mother poured her all for her [adopted] child. Even if they are not related, she loves him,” he says in an interview with ABS-CBN News. Um, okay.

Some who actually adopted or were adopted didn’t get this particular message from the ad, saying that it made a joke out of the social stigma that comes with adoption, with others also pointing out an undercurrent of colorism in it (the adopted kid was portrayed by someone with darker complexion and textured curly hair). I happen to think that being offended by this commercial is completely valid and inevitable. Clearly, the ad, despite what its creators may tell us, was designed to shock, provoke discussion, possibly enrage some people and generally sell the product. Whether we like it or not, it has succeeded in its objectives. We probably won’t be able to look at a bottle of RC Cola (and our mothers) the same way ever again. And I bet more households are now going to be reminded of it come merienda time. With its lower selling price compared to its competitors’, why not?

Then again, why do people drink soda, instant coffee or beer in the first place? Why do we have to choose from a hundred brands of canned food? Why do we whiten our teeth—and as a matter of fact, everything—or want the next technology in phones and cars? The commercial’s tagline, “Basta!” seems to justify all our “needs” as dictated by consumerism.

The viral ad and other bizarre TV commercials of late bring fetishism of commodities here in the Philippines to the next level, a whole genre of the ludicrous and the occasionally disturbing. Expect more “shockvertising” and rage marketing in the coming months, akin to popular TVCs in Japan and Thailand. Fresher, more creative, out-of-the-box ideas will flourish and compete for our money in exchange for products we don’t even need.

Since most of the advertising these days is online, middle class Generation Z seems to be the biggest target audience. These kids practically rule the Internet, sharing memes, trolling one another, engaging in online “bardagulan,” and some such. There’s no limit to the weirdness they are capable of absorbing. After all, this is the generation that invented “Hakdog,” an expression that means literally nothing and merits no logical explanation.

It seems that the joke is lost on those who dare read deeper meanings into the RC Cola ad. We are so taken aback by its graphic, horror-like qualities that we fail to see the sexism in traditional, more visually pleasant TVCs where it’s suggested that a mother should aspire to smile all the time in the midst of hardships, immaculate in appearance, her hair perfectly coifed, always at her husband and children’s beck and call; or the exploitation in ads that depict farmers and workers creating their products to be absolutely blissful beings, thanks to good ol’ Filipino spirit of resilience and an optimistic Eraserheads song playing in the background.

Sex and sexism sell, so does resilience porn. Surrealism seems to be the next frontier for local advertising. I’d be lying if I said that the RC Cola ad’s irrational dark humor didn’t make me laugh. But more importantly, it also gives me hope that we are indeed at the cusp of the dying of late capitalism. Ah, basta! #

References:

Abellon, B. (2020). “From the makers of the viral RC Cola ad”. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved from https://news.abs-cbn.com/ancx/culture/spotlight/11/30/20/from-the-makers-of-the-viral-rc-cola-ad-these-equally-goofy-commercials

Cruz, A. (2020). “Some netizens think RC Cola’s new ad is insensitive”. Preen.ph. Retrieved from https://preen.ph/118794/rc-cola-ad-insensitive-netizen-reactions-bn

‘Mabining Mandirigma’ restages at CCP

The Cultural Center of the Philippines stages the award-winning steampunk musical ‘Mabining Mandirigma’. It is produced by Tanghalang Pilipino, the resident theater company of the CCP..

First staged four years ago, it is Tanghalang Pilipino’s 33rd season opener. It runs from August 16 to September 1.

Veteran stage actor Monique Wilson plays Apolinario Mabini, the first Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Philippines. It presents Mabini’s ideals and the challenges he faced. It focuses on Mabini’s life as the top adviser of President Emilio Aguinaldo during the Philippine-American War, his imprisonment in Intramuros, his exile to Guam in 1901, and his death months after his return to the Philippines in 1903. #

Late Review: Spider-Man Far From Home

By Tyrone Velez

It was right at the peak of the third act of Spider-Man: Far From Home, where our friendly neighborhood teenage-super-hero was hyper-kinetically evading the drones and trying to get to bad-guy Mysterio, that I had these thoughts:

This is the third version, and third actor of Spider-Man in the past 17 years.

There have been seven Spider-Man movies in the last 17 years, plus one animation movie (Into the Spider-Verse) and three MCU appearances (Infinity War, Endgame and Civil War). He’s tied with Iron Man with the most appearances in MCU with ten movies, with Wolverine coming at second with nine.

There are hits and misses in the whole Spider-Man movie cannon. This one is more of a miss.

What I like in this movie:

1. Tom Holland is a great Peter Parker.

2. Zendaya is a nice version of MJ. Very millennial-geeky-cute. Her chemistry with Tom works.

3. CGI is good, especially when Mysterio wrapped Spidey into his cage of fear and confusion.

4. JK Simmons’ comeback as J Jonah Jameson in the mid-credits makes one excited for the next movie.

5. The mid-credit cliffhanger. Everyone knows who Spider-Man is.

6. The revelation reflects our world today of fake news, disinformation, news as entertainment and hero-worship built on news and hype.

Now the bad things of this movie. Plot holes and poor character development:

1. Peter Parker is smart, but how did he get so stupid to trust someone like Mysterio whom he just met for a day and gave him the parting gift that is EDITH of his beloved mentor/father-figure Tony Stark? 

What is Peter’s motivation and character in this movie? The movie jumps right away into him hyped about a European vacation and going after MJ. Wait, is he supposed to be grieving?

2. Plot holes aplenty. How come no Avenger, or Doctor Strange, was available to check on Mysterio and his claim of a multiverse? Can Talos not ring the real Nick Fury for SOS? But that is the plot of the movie. Everyone got stupid.

3. What is the motive of Mysterio? Revenge? Attention? Gylenhaal is great, but he swings from cool to maniacal too much. Vulture from Homecoming was the well-developed relatable villain.

4. Too much Avengers and moping about Tony in this movie. Too caricaturist schoolmates and stupid teachers in this movie. There was not much time to develop Peter Parker and his angst, which should be the thing that draws us to relate to this character.

5. Too much CGI, sometimes it gets over the top. Go back to the story dude.

I remember watching Spider-Man 2 in 2004, and that was a great story of a young man facing the crisis of being a hero and the sacrifices one takes for saving the world.

Or as Peter B. Parker in “Into the Spider-Verse” (my second favorite of the Spidey canon) says: “It takes a leap of faith”. Far From Home was just jumping all over, without making that leap that we can cheer on. #

Writers and artists nominate Joma Sison as National Artist

Hundreds of groups, artists and personalities nominated Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison as National Artist for Literature Saturday.

Nominators led by the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera beat yesterday’s deadline by a few hours as they submitted hundreds of pages of testimonials and lists of Sison’s works at about 8:30 in the evening at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Citing his profound impact on many Filipinos and on Philippine society through his poems, essays and other articles, the nominators and endorsers urged the Conferral Order of National Artists to formally include Sison in its list as one of the country’s greatest writers.

“The nomination of Jose Maria Sison for national artist for poetry and the essay is moved by recognition of the crucial role he has a played and continues to play in the making of the Filipino community and nation by developing and enhancing the Filipino capacity to understand the Philippine crisis through the poems and the hundreds of essays he has written on the manifold aspects of that crisis,” a part of the nomination entitled “Jose Maria Sison’s Enduring Legacy: People’s Art, People’s Culture” read.

A copy of Sison’s nomination as National Artist for Literature entitled “Jose Maria Sison’s Enduring Legacy: People’s Art, People’s Culture.

Lumbera, University of the Philippines deans Luis Teodoro and Roland Tolentino, writers Alice and Gelacio Guillermo, playwright Bonifacio Ilagan, National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Allan Jazmines, Davao-based writer Don Pagusara, UP professor Rommel Rodriguez, and director-producer Soc Jose led hundreds of individual artists, writers, academicians and personalities who nominated Sison.

The Concerned Artists of the Philippines, College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines, Sining na Naglilingkod sa Bayan, Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino, Teatro Obrero, Artista kag Manunulat nga Makibanwahanon (Panay), Artistang May Diwang Dagohoy (Bohol), Sining Banwa Performance Collective (Albay) Panday Sining (Metro Manila), Liga ng Kabataang Propagandista, Southern Tagalog Exposure, Kodao Productions and The Philippine Collegian were among the organizational nominators.

Sison has authored dozens of books of essays and poetry published locally and internationally and translated into various languages. He has won several awards as a writer, including the Literary Achievement Award for poetry and essay writing from the Writers’ Union of the Philippines, National Book Award for Poetry (Prison and Beyond), Manila Critics Circle, the Southeast Asia (SEA) WRITE Award for the Philippines for essay writing and poetry (reputedly the most prestigious literary award in Southeast Asia) and the Marcelo H. del Pilar Award bestowed by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.

The nominators singled out Sison’s Struggle for Nationalism and Democracy, Philippine Society and Revolution, and Prisons and Beyond as his most influential books, saying these undoubtedly changed Philippine history and helped define Philippine society.

“[Sison’s essays] have enlightened several generations and inspired them into living lives dedicated to the service of the people in furtherance of the empowerment of the poor, the marginalized and the powerless so they may themselves transform their own lives in a society of peace, prosperity and democracy of their own making,” the nominators wrote.

“He has thereby raised the level of public discourse on such issues as poverty and underdevelopment from the confusion and misdirection of the past to its current focus on their historical and structural roots, and as neither mandated by heaven nor an affliction inherent in the human condition, but as man-made and therefore susceptible to human intervention,” they added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)