Daughter of Movie Legends tells about her job and what she thinks about Anime.
Located in the outskirts in the South Triangle district lies Timog Avenue, where a number of entertainment and dining establishments are thriving their businesses here. It is also a stone’s throw away from the two large networks, ABS-CBN and GMA Network.
Along the vicinity lies the newly-constructed main office of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), The location of the office is perfect since it lies between two network giants that always fight tooth and nail for ratings and supremacy.
And ZEN Otaku Honbu was privileged to be in this office to interview the Chairperson of the MTRCB, no less than the daughter of movie legends Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces, Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares.
Poe-Llamanzares was appointed as MTRCB chair by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III last October 26, 2010, She replaced the equally controversial Ma. Consoliza Laguardia. Before her appointment as the head of the board, Poe-Llamanzares headed FPJ Productions, her father’s film production company.
Almost every single anime fan knew about MTRCB notoriously for its reviews and classifications including Anime programmes, especially that those aired on local terrestrial TV, which MTRCB has full control of.
Some anime fans always speculate that MTRCB has a full hand or control over the anime that is being aired on TV, thereby placing the blame on the board if the anime show has been cut or worse, will not air on local TV.
ZEN was delighted to be inside the spacious office of the chairperson. Although sparsely decorated, it was beautiful. The walls were adorned of pictures of his father, FPJ and some movie quotes.
Poe-Llamanzares was also delighted by ZEN’s visit and interview, and with that, she also shared some info that was not known or written in previous articles about her.
The Chairperson is also fond of Anime, and she intersperses it with the matter at hand, the new ratings system.
First, she distinguishes the definition and mandate of the MTRCB,. She clarifies that the MTRCB’s job is not to censor programs, but rather, the board only classifies and sends recommendations about programs.
“Our Mandate is not to censor, we are here to classify based on age-appropriate classifications.” The chair opened.
She also says that though the board respects the constitutional right of expression and artistic freedom, There are responsibilities beneath these freedoms.
Views about Anime
She stresses that there are some materials that are, in her words, “beautifully made” but may not be appropriate for children to watch.
“That’s why, in free TV, we have to limit our classification that will accommodate children’s viewership.” Poe-Llamanzares said.
She then set on to clarify the oft-repeated criticism that the MTRCB are not airing certain shows because the board had an unfavorable ruling beforehand.
“[It] does not necessarily mean because we are against freedom of expression, it’s just that there are certain things that adults can understand and children are not prepared to watch.” the Chairperson said,
She agrees that Anime is different from any other genre of animation, or as she calls it as “general cartoons” because of the deep theme and storyline.
“There are deep themes in anime, some of them ultra violent, although beautifully executed”, she said, adding to the fact that she watched Voltes V and Mazinger Z while growing up and her children also watch Anime shows like Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X)
“When you say anime, and you show it on TV, it should basically comply with the G (General Patronage) or PG (Parental Guidance) Classification, If it goes over that, it is most likely it will not be aired.” She added.
This led the discussion into the new classification system for television, which now includes SPG or the Strong Parental Guidance classification, which the board hopes to implement by next year.
“Strong Parental Guidance is like a Parental Guidance but it’s a bit more liberal” The chair said about the SPG rating.
She cited the conditions set forth on how will a certain TV show will be given a SPG rating.
“We will allow Strong Parental Guidance material to air after 09:00pm and before 05:30am because there is a reasonable presumption that children are getting ready for bed, if they are not asleep.” Poe-Llamanzares stated.
A mother of three children, Poe-Llamanzares said that though some children are now sleeping late, they are now more focused on preparing to sleep or either on social media.
“So that parents should have a benchmark na dito, at 9:00pm pinalalabas na yung mga shows na hindi angkop sa mga bata.” Poe-Llamanzares added.
“Striktong Patnubay at Gabay”
Strong Parental Guidance differs from the Parental Guidance in aspects such as Sex and Violence. Poe-Llamanzares points out on one point during the interview.
“Suggestive dialogue or language necessary in relation to the context of the material may be allowed, so may mga lenguwahe na hindi pwede sa PG na pwede sa SPG” she said.
On violence, SPG permits “moderate details of fighting and dangerous scenes” and “moderate and infrequent gory scenes”
“Siyempre, alam naman natin specially sa Anime details of fighting will be very apparent,” she said.
Cable Channels that have Philippine feeds or are originating from the Philippines are also not spared from the new classification system and will be required to implement the new system also by next year., but she admits that there are a lot of cable channels that are in need of regulation,
“A lot of shows are beamed directly from abroad” she said.
She also noticed that some channels have marketing and broadcasting feeds that point directly to the Philippines and she expressed that if the channels can insert local commercials, they could as well insert the classification at the bottom of the screen,
“Malaysia and Singapore are definitely stricter than us, period, pero (there is) some Spanish channel, being beamed from I don’t know where, may mga pumping (sex) scenes” she flabbergasted.
“We are a sovereign nation, and we should not be deterred by other countries’ regulations just because it is allowed in their country” Poe-Llamanzares added.
A Herculean Task
She admits that the MTRCB is only a small agency with a few employees yet they carry the herculean task of regulating the airwaves 24/7 for objectionable content nationwide.
“That is why we have deputies and volunteers that report to us, but kami mismo we cannot send a person all the time” She lamented.
The MTRCB’s allocation in the almost PHP 1.8 Trillion National Budget is PHP 42 Million, a lot of money, she says, but not comparable to the budgets of other government offices.
“That’s why we make do of what we have, so thank god for people like you, you help us with our campaign, otherwise it’s hard” she said referring to ZEN.
A Campaign on the new classification system will also be started to guide viewers about the new classification system that includes the SPG rating.
“There are many in our population… that they don’t know the benefits of classification, that is why for every show on free TV now, there is a ten-second advisory for the classification and there will also be a pictogram during the entire duration of the show.”
The pictograms are color-coded green for the G classification, blue for the PG and red for the SPG classifications, Alongside with the pictorgrams are the Filipino phrases “Patnubay at Gabay” for PG and “Striktong Patnubay at Gabay” for SPG.
“Its very important to translate it on the vernacular.” She said, adding that in the future, the advisory will also be translated to the major dialects like Cebuano, Bisaya, Ilocano and Kapampangan
“The MTRCB can only do so much, but its the parents that will have to educate the children on what type of programming they are allowed to see.” the chair says, and gives the example of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)
“We have the PDEA…… but the forefront in the battle against drugs is really the home, It’s really the parents who (do) explain ‘this is not good for you because it is bad for you’…. so it does not matter that when we keep suspending those shows, if the parents are not involved, they will do it again and again.” she added.
Poe-Llamanzares cites an example in which some dancers are scantily-clad on noontime shows, “ang daming nagrereklamo, ang iikli ng mga suot (ng mga dancers), aminin na natin, Part of fashion, during the time of the sixties, iikli ng mga damit di ba, so magiging paurong ba tayo, sasabihin natin cancelled yung show mo kasi ang sexy ng mga dancers mo.”
“As long as they are not doing sexual insinuations with their dancers, we cannot tell them to stop because there is freedom of expression, The point is, if you put Parental Guidance, it’s already warning them that ‘hey, don’t blame us if your kids watch this’, because we are already telling you that you need to be actively involved in your child’s life as well.” she said authoritatively
She believes that the government should not only the one doing all the “cleaning” because all adults have the right to watch as well.
“What could be conservative today may not be conservative in the future”
After the lengthy discussion about the ratings system, ZEN gave the chairperson some suggestions and also some questions taken from ZEN’s Facebook page, from e-mail and from our partners DTV Pilipinas & Anime Alliance Philippines, Some of the questions and suggestions are about how will the MTRCB improve the pictogram which is superimposed on the TV screen.
When ZEN told Poe-Llamanzares about a comment from Facebook that prolonged exposure of the pictogram on an LCD TV, she was surprised to hear about it,
“I didn’t know that, the networks never told me that.” she said, adding that if there is a study that will prove that case, the chair will send it to the networks to discuss it with them.
Also asked to the chair is how is their relationship with the KBP, “There is no overlap, They have to refer to us, we are the ones who deputize KBP to screen commercials, kasi binigyan namin sila ng authority na ‘sige, you help us’, because we are testing the waters for self-regulation that eventually that what we are trying to achieve…. Hindi pwedeng magoverlap kasi kung ano yung nakalagay sa batas, we have to follow it. The KBP will always make sure that their regulations are not in conflict with ours.”
In regulating News and Public Affairs programs, The MTRCB does not regulate straight news programs because it is part of the right of self expression and press freedom, but public affairs programs and long form news programming are also subject to review, She also commended A TV network for using the SPG rating in a segment of their news program as a form of self-regulation.
“They can show SPG material as long as it is straight news.” The chair added.
A majority of questions were raised about the vagueness of the ratings and if there is a way of expanding the ratings, The chair said that the new ratings system was designed to cover more aspects of programming without bracketing it to a certain age,
She also said that the new ratings system is future proof so that changing mores and values and even cultural ideas will still be covered
“The world is changing, What could be conservative today may not be conservative in the future.” She said,
ZEN also asked how does the MTRCB reviews its programs and how does a program sustain its rating for the entire duration of the program,
A network submits to the board a sample episode or episodes, then a three-person board will review the program based on the merits of the classification. Then the board gives its rating but the rating in itself is only a recommendation, The network has the right to air it or modify it based on the recommendation given by the board.
“We are giving the networks the responsibility to stay true on their pronouncements, We are just being more definite.” she attested
Then she says that contrary to the common belief, the chairperson of the board has no powers to review a show or a movie, much more suggest a timeslot for a particular program or order it not to air , She only signs the board’s recommendations on a certain program.
“Kung ano yung decision the tatlong board members na iyon, Whether I like it or not, as a chairman I will only sign it.”
The chairperson’s roles are only managerial which includes policies, implementation of the projects and the like.
After an hour, which seemed like three hours because of the dose of information that was shared and exchanged, ZEN thanked Poe-Llamanzares for allowing her to be interviewed, but the chair was equally impressed because of the questions that were asked to her,
Grace Poe-Llamanzares seems to be the most catatonic and the most outspoken individual that we always witness on Television, but during the interview, she spoke like an ordinary person with the conviction of a parent, the smarts and the “geekiness” of an Otaku, a class like a star, and the authority of an government official.
With ZEN’s initiative in bringing light to the agency highly criticized by anime fans and other viewers which perceives them as enemy, The MTRCB can now reach out to the people who thought of them as enemies, with the hope of clearing all these things for the good of all viewers.
Last January 1st, ZEN Otaku Honbu has been rebranded as Anime Pilipinas.
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