When I started this blog, I swore that I shall never post anything that risk besmirching the image of my hometown, Davao, and the rest of Mindanao. The purpose of this blog, I resolved, was to promote tourism, discuss news and developments, exhibit photos, and mark important events in Davao and the Mindanao beyonds.
The Mindanao Stigma occurs much like a contagion, wherein generalized reports of events and anomalies in a single point in Mindanao cause the entire island or region to be grouped, labeled, or branded, as to create public impression that such events or anomalies pervade or exist all throughout it.
I surmise that it is time for me to get real, down and dirty in the face of a shocking UNdevelopment.
Yesterday evening, getting home from a whole day of pounding in a government office in Taft Avenue, Manila, I found a mouth-rending news story on GMA. It was about TV journalist Cez Drilon’s alleged kidnapping in Sulu.
Sulu, of course, is a sub-archipelago in southwestern Mindanao. Now, there’s the rub — the mere mention of “Mindanao” would most certainly act as an invocation of the ugly specters of terrorism and unrest. This would likely happen to the uninformed or to those who have not set foot on Mindanao. It’s a sorry cycle that’s hard to undo in the non-Mindanawon psyche. Well, that includes foreigners who would normally feel hesitation whenever met with the prospect of getting to Mindanao.
It’s about time, perhaps that the media collectively take on the responsibility of finally eradicating the “Mindanao stigma” and its destructive effects. That will do a lot in safeguarding not only the good image but also the potentials of the other provinces, cities or regions who have been unduly dragged into this branding trap when in fact none of the evils occur in these places.
The foreigners i’ve seen in Davao have a lot to tell their brethren (is this term in any way gender-insenstive?) on what they had been missing for not coming over. Hopefully, that would elicit non-visitor regret for ever believing in generalist anti-Mindanao travel advisories. Because, after all, Mindanao is not all about kidnappings, skirmishes, rebellions, insurgency and unrest. For instance, tourists who have been to Davao can attest to the peace and security, not to mention the wonders and tourist attractions which abound from its islands to its highlands.
Indeed, the UNdevelopment in Sulu will set off a viral outbreak engulfing the “innocent” regions in Mindanao, a domino effect of sorts that would topple the painstakingly built images of the regions, provinces and cities which over the years have tried to make a good name for themselves in the effort to attract investors, tourists and relocators. This contagion or outbreak, spawned by generalized or sensationalized reports of events and anomalies occurring in a single point in Mindanao (Sulu, for instance), and which create public impression that such events or anomalies pervade or exist throughout the whole island, is the so-called Mindanao Stigma.
With such unsettling news, I can’t help but be defensive. Knowing the “generalist” media, I expect that in no time, the broadcast and print platforms will be awash with unfair, nay scurrilous, articles, accounts and news items on Mindanao. Not to generalize, though, but it can be observed that many media practioners still breathe life into the smelly nostrils of the notorious Mindanao stigma. Such are the yellow curtains of an unfair, unbalanced and sensationalist brand of reportage that lends a myopic but glaringly uninformed view of Mindanao.
With that, please treat this post as an appeal: Let the trouble in Sulu remain in Sulu. Avoid using general terms like “Mindanao” or “Southern Philippines” when referring to the locus of this incident. After all, the media never uses “Visayas” to refer to such Provinces or Cities as Cebu, Iloilo or Bacolod. Neither does media use “Luzon” when referring to Albay, Bicol or Ilocos.
It’s about time, perhaps that the media collectively take on the responsibility of finally eradicating the “Mindanao stigma” and its destructive effects. I admit that this task would be long and hard, but starting now will do a lot in safeguarding not only the good image but also the potentials of the other provinces, cities or regions where none of these evils occur but which are too unlucky to slip into the “Mindanao” branding trap. This applies to Bloggers and the Web media, as well.