THOSE familiar with asceticism surely know about the practice of an annual retreat. This extended recollection serves, among others, to integrate one’s spiritual norms and exercises as well as praxis for the past twelve months. It also serves as a recharge, fired up with a resolution or two, for the fulfillment of one’s life’s mission for next twelve-month period. With some imagination, that is what the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board’s (MTRCB) Annual Family and Child Summit is like.
Usually held during the last quarter of the year, this one-day affair enables the MTRCB to interact, and also form resolutions, toward audience-sensitivity and media literacy with its stakeholders. Consistent with the MTRCB’s mandateto assert in the development of the film and television industries under Presidential Decree No. 1986, these stakeholders include film producers, television networks, content providers, directors and writers, actors and other creative troopers, crew, suppliers, and distributors. Arguably though, the most important stakeholder would be the general audience – and to be more specific, the Filipino Family, especially the young. Then, there are allied interest groups or sectors such as educators, formators, and governmental agencies or units, both local and national.
The annual summit had as its precursor the 2012 MTRCB Child Summit ingeniously organized by former MTRCB Chairperson, and now Senator, Grace Poe. It seeks to have all stakeholders read from the same page, so to speak, or at least discover and develop commonalities to empower Filipino families particularly, the children–to determine the type of media and entertainment they see. The objective is to have a dynamic and living ratings system, i.e. one that is understood and consequently, actively used by our people. Viewership becomes not simply be matter of simply accepting, without deliberation, the flow of images and sound produced by either the movies or television. The summit is one where a participant can determine “best practices” to deal with content showing graphic violence integral to the storyline, but which might be disconcerting for a child of eleven to take in. It is also where a “media-sheltered” formator can learn not to outrightly “condemn” a television show just because it ups the level of romance.
Knowing that it too has much to learn, the MTRCB sought resource persons and experts along the lines of media, education, value formation, and of course, parenting. Delegations from schools, faith-based organizations, media entities, government agencies, and non-government organizations have been flocking to the summit with great enthusiasm.
The first summit in 2013, with the theme Sa Tahanan nina Juan at Juana, included break-out discussions and mini-workshops focusing on the role of parents. The speakers and facilitators were one in their message that parents are the “primary educators” of their children, emphasizing that what children see, they do.
The highlight was the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) by and among MTRCB, NCCT, Anak TV, KBP, the television networks and other stakeholders to uphold age-appropriate and audience-sensitive entertainment. The keynote was done by Senator Poe herself, even as late German Moreno (the legendary Master Showman) rallied the entertainment industry to unite behind the advocacies of the MTRCB.
2014 saw the second summit, with the theme Matalinong Panonood Para saPamilya at Lipunan nina Juan at Juana. It called for active and participatory citizenship based on both individual and collective understanding of the ratings system. The major resource speakers were then Camarines Sur’s3rd District Representative and now Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Bam Aquino. Senator Bam narrated his own travails in producing and hosting a developmental TV program before going into national politics. But what invigorated the participants, right at the very beginning, was the creative production number of the Filipino youth group Dulaang Tobias mentored by veteran comedy director Tony Y. Reyes (“Direk Tony”would continue to support MTRCB’s MatalinongPanonood initiatives involving the youth, together with civic leader and former government stalwart Clayton Olalia and another comedy director cum writer Ipe Pelino).
The 2015 Family and Child Summit was significantly far-reaching in that it saw young participants from various schools formally pledging to promote and live a culture of discerning viewership. Audience empowerment levelled up with the keynote address of then Department of Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, FSC. An audience favorite was the revealing media literacy talk by Sr. ConsolataManding, FSP, Directress of the Paulines Institute for Communication in Asia.
Renowned economist and former Commissioner of the 1987 Constitutional Commission Dr. Bernardo Villegas was also there to pitch for active parenting and having a healthy media culture for the home. Other speakers were Mr. Nicco De Jesus, President of the Marketing and Opinion Research Society of the Philippines, and Ms. Josa Marie Salazar of the National Council for Children’s Television (NCCT).
The annual Family and Child Summit has always been an exciting and fulfilling activity for MTRCB, both for the Board and the staff. It was great to see our staff bringing their own children and family members to the summit. Clearly, it was their summit too. Through this annual event, the MTRCB hopes to continue with its resolve to provide a “space” in which stakeholders can freely and creatively express and share their thoughts for a greater understanding of media literacy and the important role of every Filipino family in shaping the well-being of the youth.