Friday, December 30, 2011

Obligatory new year post

  Ah, look how time flies. It's amazing that a year ago I was enjoying my last days of winter break in the year 2010 while this year I'm... still enjoying the last days of winter break before classes start on January 4th.

  So what has changed? For one, I took more courses this academic year and learned more than what I have learned last year. While other examples are more personal, I'm glad that these incidents in this year are better and different compared to last year. And because I have learned more from my courses, my blog posts are changing as well (and they should be).

  I have a few plans and goals lined up for the next year, and if I get to do them, then the world can end on December 2012 (I'm kidding, of course.).

  I'm ready to say goodbye to 2011 and look forward to 2012. Another new year where I make another step forward and never backward. I may stop for awhile to enjoy the present, but I should also think about how it would affect the future. I should never want to go back to the past but I can always glimpse at it to see what I have done wrong so as to not make the same mistake twice, or remind myself that the past will always be a part of me and who I will be. And with that, let's toast to the new and exciting year ahead of us.

  But let's not forget reality and party like there's no tomorrow. Aside from the real lives we keep, there are also other issues we should be concerned about, like the national and global economic situation and environmental issues to name a few. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Coca-cola, pathos, and the Philippines

  As a rhetoric and communications student at a Canadian university, I am trying to incorporate my academic life to my real life so I can apply what I have learned in school and put it to good use.

  Coca-cola, an international well-known beverage company, released a campaign ad for the holidays. Watch the clip and tell me what you think about it: 
  What do you think? Did it move you? Were you about to grab a tissue by the time the ad ended? Did you feel your emotions swaying when you saw families reunited again? If you answered 'yes' to most or all questions, then the ad served its purpose: to persuade the audience through their emotions. This, my friends, is pathos, one of the three appeals or styles of rhetoric introduced by Aristotle to capture the emotions of the audience. Who says rhetoric only applies to textual discourses? Visuals such as photographs and advertisements are considered rhetoric as well, especially ads which are used to persuade (or dissuade) the audience to buy the (or not buy the competitor's) product. When I was watching the ad, its first few seconds practically screamed 'pathos' at me that I kind of lost interest halfway through it that if I was a target audience of the ad I wouldn't be interested in it. 

  However, I don't mean to offend OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) in this post, nor in this blog (and I will never do in the future). I may seem insensitive just because I'm a permanent resident (and potential citizen) of Canada while they are contractual workers but we share the same situation: we live and work in foreign countries. Middle-class and poor Filipinos who have lived in the Philippines their whole lives have no idea what it's like to live or work in a foreign country. I can't say for the rich or privileged and upper-middle class Filipinos, because some of them may have only traveled to foreign countries for a vacation but not move permanently to live. My point is that OFWs lead more difficult lives than most permanent residents or converted citizens that I know. Just look at each of the persons who were qualified for the "Happiness Project". The agency picked them because they're OFWs and they have been away from their families for years. For who else can the agency show in their ads but hard-working Filipinos who have been away from their families for a long time? The general audience can relate to Joe, Leonie, and Joey because most of them have OFW relatives and Filipinos are into close family ties. So what does the ad agency do? The three narrate their life on how sad and lonely their lives are in a foreign country (and I agree with Leonie when she talked about winters.) and how much they miss their families. Their sad narratives are enough to tug a Filipino's heart--the target audience of the ad. And because they were picked by Coca-cola for their 'project', they were given the chance to go back to the Philippines again after being gone for a long time. And no doubt, it worked. Most comments I've read about the ad were touched by their stories. Another person said this ad shows the resiliency of Filipinos on how Joe, Leonie, and Joey (and the rest of the OFWs) are able to sacrifice their lives for their families. But the best comment I have read? People saying that they're 'proud to be Filipinos' or that they're glad they're a Filipino. Because of what--that Filipinos work abroad, save every dollar, pound, or euro, brave the cold and harsh winters only to send money to the Philippines (whom some are ungrateful for the blessings)? Enlighten me here on the last bit because I didn't quite catch it. There was even a comment where the person said that if anyone didn't cry at this ad then they're insensitive. At least some comments were sensible enough to realize that this is still an advertising.

  What I only observed while watching this ad was that there are still more than 11 million Filipinos (and counting) who had to sacrifice their time and lives to work in another country for their family because of poverty. These OFWs are even dubbed as "new heroes" or bagong bayani of the nation--and they should be. For a culture that is strong on family values, they would find it difficult to be far from their families even for just a year. The ad focuses on the idea of sadness and homesickness an OFW feels instead of the reality that they are separated from their families because of the economic condition of the Philippines. Doesn't that say a lot about the country? What's even worse is that these OFWs have been away for almost or more than a decade which shows the progression of the country. Let's admit it, Filipinos work abroad for a better life because the country disappointed them with its political leaders and governance (to name a few). They would never have left in the first place if they had a good life. And until they find that the government will provide them jobs, they will continue working abroad far from their loved ones--a sacrifice they're willing to do.

  Should I mention that at the end of the day, despite the emotional appeal of it, the product being endorsed is Coke?

Friday, December 2, 2011

No offense, but

  Because a blog was, is, and will always be a blog. No matter how one tries to be objective in their perspectives, there is always that one little fact or thought that would refute another person's point of view. And that, I think, would make for a good debate. And it's no one's fault, because each of us have our own world paradigm that varies on our narratives or logic.
  So I can't blame people if some find that Twilight is better than Harry Potter--or even have the guts to compare those two movies. But really, I still can't believe that my friend thinks that Twilight is better than Harry Potter. We're actually comparing the films, not the books, because he doesn't like reading. I admit, I don't have the right to loathe Twilight because I haven't read the book yet, but a reliable friend once told me that I shouldn't waste my time reading it--so I followed her advice. But to tell me that it's "better" than Harry Potter? Are you kidding me? This all started when we were having lunch at work when he told me that he's going to watch the film again even though he has already seen it. So I told him, "Can you watch another film so that you don't contribute as a revenue to the franchise?" But then he said that he doesn't mind watching it again, because he likes it. But when he said that it's better than Harry Potter--that was when things got more interesting. 

  I didn't really fought with him, because one of our coworkers stopped our ensuing argument when I told my friend that I could debate with him on why HP is loads better than the other. Anyway, I don't care if any friend of mine likes Twilight--I would respect his or her opinion because that's his or her view. But to tell me that it's better than Harry Potter is another story. Although I'm biased because I have never read or seen the films of the Twilight franchise and I'm an HP fan, I would try to understand a Twilight fan's point of view by maybe reading the first book. I just can't foresee myself reading a Twilight book in the near future though. Okay, maybe when I'm drunk or high on sugar that I can take Twilight seriously. I just wish that I was always kept in the dark about this franchise like I was used to. See, I only found out about it a year after the first film has been released. That was when I realized the fanbase that vampire has created. Then I became more familiar with it when I used to read this forum on The Deathly Hallows Part I film and there were comments about Twilight. So aside from that forum with posts that are probably all from Tumblr, the only exposures I got from this franchise were pictures (from the forum), the Breaking Dawn Part I trailer, and some reviews about the film (which are bad). So even when one of my friends invited me to watch the film with her, I turned her down. But I thought you wanted to see a Twilight fan's point of view? Well, if I wanted to get a glimpse of why women are crazy with that vampire, I'd rather watch it illegally (that's right, you heard me) or on the television than spend my hard-earned money on a film that I would no surely not enjoy. And besides, I already loathe the franchise, I don't want to contribute to its revenue. 

  I haven't talked to my friend about his plan, but I might tell him to watch Happy Feet 2 instead when we meet on Saturday. If we get into another argument, I don't really mind. I just don't like it when one says Twilight is better than Harry Potter--I've been an HP fan for a decade--it's practically a half of my life, and I don't like HP being compared to a fad (yes, because I think Twilight is not really a timeless literary treasure).
  Wow, I didn't plan for this post to be this long, I was thinking of writing a paragraph but then I remembered that "argument" I had with my friend so my hands just started typing words. But I guess it adheres to that photo above which shows that I can be horrible to things that I hate and blog about it--because again, this is my blog.