Thursday, June 26, 2014

BBC World focus on PH ongoing

(May 23, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

BBC World News felt it was important to focus on the Philippines six months after Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda,’” revealed writer-TV host Rajan Datar via a recent e-mail interview. “The typhoon, and the effect of those dealing with its consequences were huge breaking news stories for the channel and we felt it was important to share [the recovery story] with the world,” Datar told the Inquirer.

The “Philippines Direct” season currently airs on the 24-hour BBC World News channel. A series of documentaries and programs started airing last Monday and continues until May 30. 

Datar’s “The Travel Show” (tomorrow, 8:30 a.m., 9:30 p.m.) visits earthquake- and typhoon-devastated areas and will focus on the victims who survived and coped after the calamities.

Other programs in the lineup include “Working Lives: Cebu” (tomorrow, 12:30 p.m.; May 25, 6:30 a.m., 6:30 p.m.), presented by Rico Hizon and focusing on a diverse set of disaster-affected people and their livelihoods; and “Talking Business: Philippines Direct” (tonight, 10.30; tomorrow, 8:30 p.m.), hosted by Linda Yueh and set at the World Economic Forum in Manila

Excerpts from the interview:
How would you explain BBC’s decision to focus on the Philippines?
The reaction to the Bohol earthquake and Supertyphoon Yolanda is of interest around the world, has had a great impact on the country’s tourism, and reveals something about the Filipino character. Also, the Philippines’ economic growth and how that is filtering down to everyday society are of huge interest.

What is “disaster tourism” and how is it gauged in the Philippines’ calamity-stricken areas?
Disaster tourism can be defined as focusing on an unfortunate event and, through tourism, helping with the recovery process. In the case of the Philippines, as with the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and for countries like Sri Lanka, the bond with regular tourists is so strong, that many people from abroad want to help. When we filmed in Bohol, we saw that the churches affected by the earthquake relied greatly on money from tourism to survive and rebuild.

How is the Philippines distinct in Asia, from “The Travel Show’s” perspective?
The clearest differences are the Spanish and American influences and largely Catholic faith. Also, while Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia sell themselves as more “exotic,” Filipinos are more grounded about who they are and display an incredible resilience in the face of adversity.
In “The Travel Show,” we visit Manila, Bohol and Panglao. In Manila, we challenge the idea that the capital is not an attractive city to visit. We meet a dancing cop (and dance with him in the middle of a busy four-way junction!). We ride in a “pimped-out” jeepney, visit Intramuros, and look at the more interesting contemporary music scenes in the capital.
On the islands, we look at ongoing recovery and restoration efforts, go up to the Chocolate Hills, take a river cruise, get really close to a tarsier that sat just behind me in a tree for a full 20 minutes while we filmed…

What makes the country’s entertainment scene different in the region?
Island mentality makes a country’s psyche a bit more extroverted, anarchic, carefree and fun-loving. But also, I noticed a special obsession with entertaining others and being entertained. Everyone seems to have music in their blood and so many can turn their hand to dancing, singing or playing.

What is the most important thing about creating travelogues?
The most interesting thing is that I get to dig below what guide books and newspaper articles tell you about a certain destination—as a result, we are able to find out what people in the country are actually talking about, and we get to explain different cultural idiosyncracies. These days, it is important not to underestimate the experience and knowledge of our viewers.

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