Reposted with permission from a Facebook note of Mr. Rems Bandiola, former associate producer of Saksi, GMA Network’s late night newscast.
DISCLAIMER: Buhay Media is maintained by the Talents Association of GMA Network (TAG), but the stories published here do not necessarily reflect the views and experiences of all TAG members or the media industry as a whole.
The Girl Who Sold Dried Mangoes… So She Could Join the Media
One night, while I was dining out prudently at a nearby mall, a college student approached me. She looked like a typical teenager dressed up casually while snuggling her backpack in front. Then, gently, she pulled out a few packs of sweets like dried mangoes and began selling those to me, saying that she is working to support her studies.
I politely turned her down. First, I had no interest in buying her food at that time. Second, I also had no spare money, other than the payment for the food which I had yet to settle. But I never told her those reasons; I just kept on saying no. I can sense her regret when she left me and went to other customers in the area. I felt pity. When I finished eating and paid for my food, I wished then that I would see her again to buy even just one pack of dried mangoes.
My wish didn’t fall on deaf ears. I saw her again, still selling her items to customers in another restaurant. I called her, and she was stunned upon seeing me again. With some spare change I got from my recent dine-out, I told her I would buy just one pack of dried mangoes. She still thanked me.
I then asked her what degree she is taking up. Her response: broadcast communication, at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). It made me shell-shocked. At that moment, I was tempted to tell her a cautionary tale about the media industry’s dirty little secret: the “talent” system (a euphemism for the practice of abusive contractualization, wherein media workers are considered “self-employed,” hired for programs under contracts of various number of years but with no mandatory benefits and job security).
I would have also confided how a brave few contractuals past and present had taken legal steps to indict the media barons for labor violations, to uphold their status as regular employees, and eventually to abolish the talent system.
I pity the girl even more, not just for her persistence to finish college, but also for the murky state of affairs in the industry she would join later on. How I wish I could tell her that working in the media is not as sweet as the dried mangoes or sweets she’s peddling. But as much as I wanted to persuade her to look for work elsewhere, I just kept my mouth shut.
I could sense in her the same enthusiasm to join the media that I once had as a doe-eyed college graduate. I’d rather keep it unspoiled. I’d rather leave her focused on her studies, imbued with the militant and vigilant spirit typically harnessed within state universities like PUP. I chose to let the grim reality of media labor conditions unravel to her in due time, either during or after college. After all, the media industry needs a new breed of people like her. What if, like us, she could make a difference for the better?
In the end, before we parted ways, I wished her good luck in her studies.