Press Release
January 27, 2014

Induction of New Officers, Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA)
27 January 2014
Hotel Intercontinental Ballroom, Makati City

It's always a pleasure to be invited by your group. I know the importance of this sector especially after the 2013 elections. Somebody like me who didn't really stand a chance at the beginning, made sure that we listened to the experts. We were clear on our message as well as credibility and sincerity. All these things, I know, is what you're trying to achieve in what you do everyday.

One of my earliest memory of PANA is your slogan - "Truth in Advertising." I do not recall anymore where I first saw it but when I first encountered your slogan I thought to myself - ang galing naman ng nakaisip nito! "Truth in advertising" - very short, very concise and very simple. But it really resonates. It captures the true essence of advertising and the "mission-vision" of PANA.

But after seeing all of you, I am no longer surprised that your association would be able to come up with a very good slogan because all of you here are communications experts. Most of you here are corporate spokespersons, advertising executives and marketing professionals - all of you are experts in using words and images to convey ideas. All of you are masters in crafting messages to convince and move your audiences into action. Whether it be to buy your product, subscribe to a service, attend a concert or support a worthwhile cause - advertising is all about using words and information to sway people into action.

In a sense, hindi masyadong nagkakalayo ang trabaho ninyo sa trabaho ng isang senador. While your expertise is marketing consumer products, the senator's expertise should be selling ideas. Also that would be formulating policies that will govern our country. You look at all the available data on a particular product and you distill that knowledge into a catchy slogan, a funny TV commercial or an effective marketing gimmick. A senator, on the other hand, is supposed to study our country's problems and is required to come up with policy recommendations or legislative solutions to that problem. We both should have the ability to access media, and this access affords us the power to amplify our views, sway public opinion and influence consumer preferences.

But this "power" to influence and persuade can also be abused or misused. A senator, for instance, can cause the passage of a law that creates more new problems rather than solve old ones. This power to persuade and influence can also be abused as I mentioned. And so, in the same vein, a negative ad campaign can inculcate the wrong values among our impressionable youth or erode our traditional Filipino values. We should therefore wield our "powers of public persuasion" with great care and responsibility. What you do is so important, that 15 to 30 seconds that costs so much. I know it now.

Let me appeal to you advertisers, when you get talents, please try to prioritize our talents here in the Philippines. I know that we belong to a free market and we try to get the most qualified or the perfect person for the role. But consider our talents first. And we also have a lot of production houses here, why do you have to do a production in Thailand when you can do it here? What happens is, all these small production houses with very talented individuals would eventually close shop, and then we will have no choice but film our ads abroad. Why are we giving the business to them? That is our forte, we are a creative group of people. Let us not give that advantage to others. That is my appeal to you and I would actually call a Senate inquiry regarding that-not to punish you but to give you incentives. Like what would make you want to keep your business here. I want it to be enticing for you to shoot here.

As I mentioned earlier, part of my job as a senator is to propose policies and legislative measures for the improvement of our society. So this afternoon, I will give you my "sales pitch" for one of my foremost advocacies at the moment. I am referring of course to the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.

Who among you here have watched "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" Di ba it was such a big hit years ago, and I seem to recall that they even produced a Filipino version of the show. Di ba in that show if a contestant cannot answer the question he (or she) is provided three (3) "lifelines"- "50/50," "Phone-a-Friend" and "Ask-the-Audience." In the "50/50" the list of multiple choice answers are reduced into two (2); in the "phone-a-friend" the contestant calls a "smart" person to answer for him; while in "ask-the-audience" the contestant simply asks the studio audience to answer the question.

Well, I came across a study (they conduct scientific studies on game shows, believe it or not) which revealed that statistically, the "ask-the-audience" portion almost always results to a correct answer while the "50-50" and "phone-a-friend" elicits the correct answer only half of the time. What the study seems to say is that the collective wisdom of the audience (or the crowd) is superior to the individual intellect of the "friend". Of course you cannot really rely on the masses to make the decision for you. But if they were given the right information, they can make qualified judgments. For example with the recent scandal that has been going on, the people are aware of it. The wisdom of the masses is very important. And we also have to make sure that the information is available to them. The conclusion of the study is that, contrary to popular belief, 1.) there is "wisdom" to be derived from the crowd and 2.) the "wisdom of the crowd" is usually superior to the wisdom of one individual.

I am mentioning this because this belief in the "wisdom of crowds" lies at the very heart of FOI. Meron kasing mga nagsasabi ng ang Pinoy daw ay tanga,pero alam nila kung ano ang gusto nila. Well, I believe in the wisdom of crowds. Naniniwala ako na kailangan nating bigyan ng pagkakataon ang Pilipino na mag-isip ng tama.

Pangalawa, marami po ang umaasa na FOI ang sagot sa problema natin sa korapsyon. In a 2013 SWS Survey for instance, 88% of businessmen believe that the passage of a strong FOI will reduce corruption.[1] Definitely, it is not mere coincidence that the countries with the least amount of corruption today are also the countries where the FOI tradition is oldest and strongest. The countries in Scandinavia (where the very first FOI law was passed in 1766) have been consistently rated "least-corrupt" by various international rating organizations. You know how they passed the FOI in Thailand? It wasn't because of a political move. There was a mother; she couldn't believe that her daughter couldn't get into this university while the rich friends of her daughter did. So she petitioned the government to reveal the results of the exams, but they wouldn't do it. So that's how the FOI started. She eventually won- there was a court order. They released the results and found out that her daughter did get into the university. So it was the fight of a mother for the welfare of her child.

But more than just preventing corruption, the FOI will also ensure the proper care and archiving of public records. We all know how lousy government is at keeping documents. When I went to San Juan to register for the 2007 elections, ang tinatapakan ko ay yung mga balota ng 2004 elections. Official documents are lost, misfiled and destroyed all the time. Susunugin ang COMELEC building at National Archive, papalitan ang pangalan ng tatay mo. Pulita Gomez nga ang pangalan daw ng grandmother ko, na hango sa El Filibusterismo. Naging poetic pa sya. In fact, when my father ran for president in 2004 and the issue of his citizenship cropped up, we were unable to get an original copy of his Birth Certificate because the Local Registrar could not locate the document. In the end, we got a copy of FPJ's birth certificate from the Mormon Temple in Quezon City. They have the genealogy, it's their thrust.

We need that. The U.S. is so proud of their country because of their historical records. Because of the value they put in the efforts of their ancestors. Hindi pwedeng puro conspiracy theory lang. Kailangan mayroon tayong hard evidence. That's why part of the FOI is that the government agency should be able to keep the proper records with the help of the National Computer Center which will actually receive funding for the standardization of all websites in the government. There has to be some sort of a template that is workable.

Because of my father's archiving, even if FPJ is gone, he was able to save about 200+ of his films. When he started, wala pa kaming de-humidifier noon. Ang ginamit nya, charcoal, to absorb moisture. And he had it in one of the rooms in Antipolo where he kept a regular window-type airconditioning, that's how he saved his films. Even if he's gone, he was able to take care of whatever that he has left behind. The future generations are able to see what went on then. Napakahalaga po ang lahat ng iyan.

I hope that I can still consider you as my partner in all of these things that we are pushing forward especially when it comes to media affairs which is very important. A child watches 21 hours of TV a week so that's how powerful your influence is. Thank you again for this opportunity. #



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