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Human Face

Eyes wide shut

I borrow the title from the 1999 erotic mystery shocker “Eyes Wide Shut” directed by Stanley Kubrick (“2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Full Metal Jacket,” “The Shining”). It has been dissected and interpreted many ways in the context of the movie, but the phrase could simply be regarded as the opposite of “eyes wide open.” But how to see with eyes wide shut?

My writer friend Rochit Tañedo, commenting on a judge’s decision on the Rappler case, one of this year’s cause célèbre, solemnly put it thus: “’Di mo makita dahil ayaw mong tingnan (You cannot see because you refuse to look).” Ditto on the ABS-CBN case.

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“Eyes wide shut” very well applies to the “Maleficent 70” or the majority members of the House committee on legislative franchises who voted against the franchise renewal of giant network ABS-CBN and for its shutdown. Remember that the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN resurrected in 1986 years after it was seized and shuttered by the Marcos dictatorship, with one Lopez scion thrown in jail.

Vocabulary.com defines maleficent as “something very close to malevolent or diabolical.”

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So sue me. Remember, public figures are fair game in the libel department. They are all supposedly honorables who thrive on the taxes forked out by this country’s citizens, the oligarchs, and the hoi polloi, among them the 11,000 ABS-CBN wage earners who have lost their jobs.

A lot has been said about the decision, something Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (among the “Magnificent 11” who voted for the franchise renewal) could not figure out. Why, she wondered, only 11 of them were left standing tall in the end, that is, with their eyes wide open. They were, in millennialspeak, “woke.”

In his review of “Eyes Wide Shut,” Anmol Ahuja says that the title “would mean a degree of knowingness, a kind of self-awareness of a certain sequence of events, and despite that, choosing to remain oblivious of it. The shutting of eyes would then represent denial; denial from something that is a reality but also something you’d deliberately steer away from seeing or accepting.”

Hmm, like the Illuminati who have orgiastic binges in the movie, the Maleficent 70 seem like a secret cabal unto themselves. But their “consummatum est” for the media giant, delivered with eyes wide shut, may have signaled the beginning of something else. Hearken to the distant drums.

I do not remember a time when the Inquirer’s reporters collectively stood as one, and apart from the paper’s stance in the editorials, to denounce blatant blows to press freedom. This time, the reporters show up as one to denounce the blow against ABS-CBN.

Even while so many statements of denunciation are circulating, among them from church-related groups, I give space to our reporters’ bold, collective voice. A call to arms, straight to the point. A plumed quill become a flaming arrow hitting its mark:

“July 10, 2020 will be remembered by journalists and all freedom-loving Filipinos as the day when the light of reason lost to wicked interests and political machinations within the halls of Congress.

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“By rejecting ABS-CBN’s application for a new 25-year license, the House legislative franchises committee has severed the lifeline of the media network and its 11,000 workers.

“We are enraged and gutted.

“The decision has exposed the pitfalls of cowering before tyrannical leaders who show no respect for free speech and freedom of the press, but instead exert every effort, fair or foul, to bring the free and independent press to its knees for selfish, vindictive reasons.

“They conveniently shut their eyes to the true role of a free press: an institution duty-bound to ferret out the truth, while lifting up the marginalized sectors of society.

“Journalists should never be the de facto publicists of politicians. Journalists are watchdogs of the government and society, armed with critical thought, as well as fair, truthful reporting to help people make informed choices about the world they live in.

“Now, more than ever, journalists are called upon to unite against state entities trampling on the people’s right to know.

“We stand with ABS-CBN in sorrow and solidarity. We will soldier on.”

Bravo! Venceremos, we shall overcome. Hindi tayo matitinag.

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