Saturday, February 14, 2009


Went to MEDCO yesterday to listen to Seng Awng Mai Nbwi, a peace staff of the Shalom Foundation from Myanmar and Quinton Mtyala, a journalist from South Africa. They're exchange fellows of Environmental Broadcast Circle's PEACECOMM (peace communicators communicating for peace). 

Interesting discussion we had. Some of the things that came up:

In Myanmar it's forbidden to use the name of Aung Aung San Suu Kyi or the name of Burma's Senior General Than Shwe in print or broadcast. Since 1962, Myanmar has been ruled by the military junta but Seng says that next year in 2010 the country will hold national elections. That seems to be good news but the military junta has continued to be vague about when the elections are going to happen. Seng says that in Burma freedom of speech is non existent. A special government censor board reviews all news articles before they see print. So anything that's felt to be critical of the junta simply gets cut out.

On the other hand, in South Africa, self-censorship of the South African press is extremely disciplined - there's great effort to not sensationalize news and put victims of abuse on the spot. Unlike in the Philippines, South Africa doesn't have an MTRCB that censors nudity in film and on TV. Quinton says soft porn can be seen anytime of the day and it's up to South African's to decide whether to watch it or not. "We're adults, we can decide for ourselves what to watch," Quinton explains. What's funny was that Quinton expressed his shock and amusement that here in the Philippines, porn is easily accessible on the sidewalks! "In South Africa that's impossible. Porn can only be bought in sex shops!" Hmm... Now that's food for thought!

The best part of that meeting was at the end when Quinton spoke in Afrikaans (the language of South Africa) and I spoke in Dutch (the language of The Netherlands which is very similar to Flemish, the language of Belgium). We understood each other perfectly despite the tiny differences. For instance, "lekker" is the same as "leuk" in Afrikaans. Kung sa Bisaya pa, "lami" ug "nindot" pareha ra ang paggamit. Anyhow, Quinton got my facebook contact details and I'm expecting to add him anytime soon and keep in touch till my dream of visiting South Africa comes true! Leuk zeg dat ik iemand ken van daar en die ik nu dus kan bezoeken! :-)


Anonymous said...

ironic kaayo noh? strikto kaayo ang MTRCB about nudity sa films. easy lang kaayo mag rate sa ilaha og XXX bisan ang uban nila gi rate na XXX kay naay substance. pero gani makita nimo bisan asa ka kadalanan ang mga porn dvds. tapos ang makasuya kay nagabaligya pud sila og pedo(philes) porns. lami kaayo pangsunugon ang stalls sa mga nagbaligya!


Quinton Mtyala said...

This is what happens when I Google myself, I come across articles that mention my name. Just a point of correction, we do have a censorship board- they're just very relaxed in what they'll allow us to see.