The Dilemma of Working on Television

Exactly how many people are needed to win a revolution? I guess there is no formula to winning one. But for as long as collective actions are practiced, in no way can the revolution fail.

For the past six years, I have been living my love for television by working in one of the most prestigious TV networks in the Philippines. I got the job two months after graduation. So, technically, I cannot imagine myself distant from this, as my whole professional life is associated with it. Surreal might not even be sufficient word to describe my experiences working for TV.

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I realized that love and passion are two important elements a person must possess to be able to be successful and to maintain longevity in this profession. Without these two, a person may just find him or herself resigning. To say that the workload is heavy is definitely an understatement. Work never ends. It’s only a continuum of a series of production processess that only add up as days pass by.

A person’s life will change upon being exposed to the work on TV. Eating habits change because you never know when will you be able to eat your next meal. Sleep becomes a privilege. Being with people you love becomes a rare luxury. But when you are passionate about what you do, you feel it’s worth the risk. You think that you contribute a lot to nation building because of the eye-opening programs and episodes you work on. You also think that you make life more bearable for the weeping nation through the programs you work so hard completing.

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I feel so blessed and extremely ignited working on TV. I get the chance to work with extremely passionate people in the industry. The energy of these people is beyond belief! For the many times I considered resigning, I think of these people. Why would I stop? I asked myself in times of extreme solitude. I make these people my inspiration to keep pushing further. To find stories worthy for the people to watch became my ultimate mission.

But as one veteran journalist once said, “no story is worth dying for.” We all have the right to dignity and respect. No story is worth dying for. But don’t we die because of the unfair labor practices we are used to having from our “employer?” Then again, we are not even employed. Depsite the tremendous effort we put to our work, the network we work for cannot even own us as its rightful employees. We are merely service providers who work for nothing at all: no security of tenure and with little benefits whatsoever. Where will our passion and love take us?

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I took a break from work, but eventually returned because of the bond of love I feel to have with TV. I returned with the network surprised to see yet another blow to the passion and love of people working on TV. I know I don’t have much to say about this, because I am not actually one with them who courageously fight for their rights. I am only a free rider should their fight finally materializes. So what right in the world do I have to speak for them?

Simply, these people taught me to dream. Growing up, without Google and the Internet, the TV is my source of information. I am throughly inspired by how documentaries reveal the plight of the most marginalized sectors in our society. I grew up wanting to be on TV because I felt that it’s the only way I can touch the lives of the Filipinos. I am sure many people around the globe had the courage to continue living because of the programs they watch on TV. We definitely owe a part of us to the people off-camera.

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Working with the network I work for right now has been a fantasy. Now that I see its realities, I start questioning my decisions. What happened to my life after six years of service? What happened to the life of people I idolize after more than a decade or so of service? Where have our dreams brought us?

But then again, I realized that my dream of working on television brought me closer to the people. I may not know each and every one of the audience, but I know we make difficult life more bearable for them.

There may be problems in the labor practice in the television industry, but it should not stop us from pursuing our passion. It must, in one way or the other, propel us to work even harder for a just and meaningful media profession.

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Leaving the job is not the solution. If we want positive changes to happen, we must stay. It may be easier said than done, but it’s the only we can use our influence. Everyone who fights for media rights must serve as our inspiration.

The people I work with in this industry taught me how to dream. Now, another valuable lesson has been imbibed on me. They are teaching me how to fight for my dreams, for a just and dignified life and for the people, through the people.

John Mychal Feraren

Crazy about popular culture, pre-colonial, and Spanish-era studies. Fan of Christina Aguilera and Katrina Halili.

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