Ang Probinsyano, a social commentary

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok November 19,2018 - 08:46 PM


After more than three years of lording it over prime time television, the action drama series “Ang Probinsyano” which revolves around the heroic exploits of the incorruptible cop, Cardo Dalisay played by Coco Martin finds himself a new nemesis in a situation that has all the elements worthy of another provocative episode.

Thursday last week Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde blasted at the primetime TV series for depicting the country’s top police official as the mastermind of the assassination plot against the president. He is annoyed that Ang Probinsiyano is making a killing at the cashbox through its use of police uniforms and insignia in the series, all at the expense supposedly of the civilian institution. The PNP top honcho can not be placated by the standard disclaimer that the plot and the cast of characters are fictional.

The impact of Ang Probinsiyano cannot be downplayed. It has the highest national rating of 47.2% according to Kantar. Some primetime shows generate huge following but after one (13 weeks) or two seasons their popularity somehow abates because the public finds the storyline bland and predictable.

Ang Probinsiyano has remained on top of the heap for three years in a row, even breaking its own viewership record. What is going for the hottest primetime show in all of national TV history?

* * *

Ang Probinsiyano is a social commentary of our times because the stories depict real happenings and real people. Powerful politicians and high-ranking police officials linked to illegal drug trade and other criminal activities are in fact the storyline and angle of many news headlines day in and day out. High-ranking and low ranked policemen have ties to the criminal activities, as news reports would indicate. In other news, poweful politicians are in the President’s narco-list.

The plot of the TV series appeals to the audiences’ sense of justice which seemingly cannot be attained because the villains are those holding powerful government positions or criminals who enjoy their protection.

In the movie website, “Taste of Cinema” is a list of 10 essential social commentary movies in the US. Many of them didn’t play to mainstream audiences except for “The Dark Knight,” a 2008 movie headlined by Christian Bale in the role of Batman and Heath

Ledger as the young criminal. Now that’s fiction as fiction can get but events after 9/11 as background and how Americans responded to the threat of international terrorism made “The Dark Knight” an important film. It was “relatable” for audiences psychologically scarred by the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

May I lift from the introduction to the list of 10 social commentary movies because it explains why people are glued every night, five days a week to “Ang Probinsyano.”

“At its most fundamental essence, cinema is a representation of our lives. The grandiosity of an image on a movie screen can encourage us to laugh, move us to cry, or just stare in wonder as a foray of colors, shapes, and sounds culminate together to create… something new. When we watch a film, we choose to enter through a door of exploration, at the behest of its director, and we allow them to take us somewhere completely and totally unexplored.”

“When we relinquish such control, the men and women who create those films know it and they seize upon that opportunity.

Opportunity to do what? Quentin Tarantino will tell you that it’s his job to entertain you through cathartic violence with a heavy dose of witty Chandler-esqe dialogue, pulp fiction, and a plethora of enough Spaghetti Western references to make even Sergio Leone laugh. Lars von Trier will bluntly assert that it’s his job merely to exploit you through the innate abuse of his characters, all for the betterment of a greater cinematic experience.”

“A social commentary is the manipulation of story all for the means of providing some sort of observation on issues within society itself. This is often carried out by the director, their hope to promote change by informing and educating the general masses about a specific problem that they deem important. In this sense, issues raised in social commentaries often appeal to the public’s sense of justice and hope for a conclusion that will bring about a shift in society to right the wrongs.”


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