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Values, Virtue, the MTRCB… and Quezon

  • Written by Atty. Eugenio 'Toto' Villareal
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 362

UNDER Presidential Decree No. 1986, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) follows as standard “contemporary Filipino cultural values” in classifying movies, television programs and publicity materials. A simple definition of values that I found is one attributed to the late advertising legend, Herminio “Minyong” Ordoñez:  “Values are norms that make people’s behavior and relationship harmonious and pleasant, and to a certain extent, morally correct.” (“Filipino Values in Advertising,” The Book of Virtues and Values, 2015, ed. By Villegas, B.M.) Describing Filipino values in particular, Minyong said that when we speak of the former, “We are simply talking to ourselves in our own familiar language, interacting in our own familiar behavior, and gaining acceptance and respect (from) our fellow Filipinos.” (ibid., insertion supplied). These are values that are universal and will, what I call with a twist of delightful irony, “always be contemporary.” Examples are respect for life, love for family, and religious freedom. These are values though which change through time, often wrought by changes in economic, political or social culture.

The “engine” for upholding values, most especially those which are universal, are virtues – which are simply good habits. Thus, when reviewing a film that depicts with gruesome violence man’s inhumanity to man, our Board Members would be on the lookout for scenes which contextualize such depiction with “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific (redeeming) value(s). (Burr, S., Entertainment Law in a Nutshell, citing Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 [1973]; insertion supplied). These scenes live out the values with the portrayal of virtue: such as the fortitude of a policeman to bring the justice of a hardened criminal. Speech being thus protected, the remaining exercise would be to evaluate the impact of the scenes in terms of age-appropriateness.

Notwithstanding their often “moralistic” tone, values and virtues are easily comprehensible and put into practice because of the example of our fellowmen. One shining example is the life of former Philippine President Manuel Luis Quezon. His natal day, August 19, is solemnly celebrated yearly at his secondary school alma mater Colegio de San Juan de Letran with the Holy Mass and wreath-laying before his statue in the said school. Particularly graced by Quezon’s living family members, the event is an occasion for Letran alumni, student and faculty to gather and rekindle the “¡Arriba” spirit.

Quezon was known to value the virtue of fidelity to one’s school, and thus, he visited Letran many times even after graduation. But there were other traits that Quezon lived. According to an account of fellow Letran alumnus and former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Julian Malonso, upon hearing the Spanish national anthem played before the Philippine national anthem during a Letran alumni homecoming, Quezon instructed then concurrent Vice-President and Secretary of Education Sergio Osmeña, Sr. (who was Quezon’s classmate at Letran) to “close” down the school. This prompted the Father Rector then to apologize.
(c.f. http://www.letran.edu/news/sept_oct2001.html, last accessed 18 August 2016). The value here was love for country and virtues exercised, simplicity, and candor. Quezon saw and told things as they were, without hesitation or giving in to a false sense of humility.
The women and men of MTRCB salute, with profound gratitude and admiration, the man that is Manuel Luis Quezon. His life, as it were, makes accessible to Filipinos the values and virtues that should make up the fabric of Philippine society. These are those that we, as classifiers and enabling agents for the film and television industries, look out for as standards. Amazed no end, we can only resoundingly echo his school’s battlecry: “Arriba!”?