I blame homesickness. Homesickness is the reason why JG and I recently subscribed to having TFC to watch on TV. For those who don’t know TFC (The Filipino Channel) is basically channels so we can be able to enjoy TV programs from back home.
Most Filipinos moving to another country will make sure to get TFC as one of their top priorities, third to acquiring a TV, which is second to finding a place to live in. In the Philippines, television, as well as our local pop culture is a big part of everyone’s daily life. I can’t really recall anyone I know who doesn’t watch TV. Even the ones who don’t actually own one are still updated, courtesy of the one neighbor who has a wide living room window. We have shows for every part of the day; early morning magazine shows, morning cartoons and talk shows, noontime shows, afternoon soaps, the evening news, and the primetime specials. This is why even though we may move to another continent, it is vital to take the local channels with us.
JG and I however are unlike most Filipinos, yes we watch local TV back home but we are not its greatest fans. Sometimes I like to think that we are among its biggest critics. It is mostly due to our attitudes, JG and his often intellectual taste, and my too idealistic not to mention hopeless romantic thirst for a bit of witty poetry in Philippine shows. If you knew us well, you would often hear us making fun of celebrities and programs (from their concept to the smallest scene or segment).
A friend of mine, tired of hearing me go on and on about what I don’t like about our local shows, said to me, “If you don’t like it so much, why keep watching?” That friend of mine was absolutely right, but we probably won’t admit out loud, but, I particularly, enjoy it too. Every nonsensical dialogue, every cheesy scene, every intrigue (that by the way does not affect nor benefit my life in any way), every shallow and vain personality. In some subconscious level, I eat all up like the true Pinoy that I am. And it’s simply because it is a big part of my culture and who I am. Like an annoying uncle, that although you dislike is still family. It is my own and as they say – love your own.
And so, despite being the critical Filipinos that we are, JG and I opted to put having TFC in the bottom of our priorities. Like most Filipinos, the next thing we did after finding a house to live in here in Tripoli, was to make sure we had a badass flat screen to watch with. But we made do with the free channels the satellite on our roof can get signal from.
The satellite is another factor that led us to our decision. In the Philippines owning a satellite is sort of status symbol, you have one means that you are a big shot because you can afford to have 4000 channels to choose from. When we came here in Tripoli, every roof big or small had one. Imagine my excitement when the house that we moved into came with its own dish – 4000 channels at my fingertips. But as always in my life, there is always a catch. I had 4000 channels with only about ten that caters to the English speaking only… Whenever I think about this, Alanis Morissette starts to sing Ironic in my head.
And of course there is also the internet with the streaming and downloading techniques one can use.
But mostly, we decided not to subscribe to the Filipino channels, because of the notion that we can probably live without it anyway. Again, being that we “don’t admittedly” enjoy it as much anyway. And for the first three months I, particularly, was okay with the ten channels that I have. If nothing, it broadened my perspective of the world as I found myself now more aware of international issues and current events; plus it gave me a glimpse of different kinds of TV culture.
However, circumstances really have a way of forcing you to do things. Typhoon Ketsana (or Ondoy in the Philippines) hit Metro Manila. And in our worry to learn about home, news from the internet and snippets from CNN and BBC weren’t enough. JG’s mom, my MIL was also set to arrive here in Tripoli, and she isn’t much of an international viewer and preferred the local stations from back home. And the clincher of it all, JG is a huge fan of Philippine Basketball. He could no longer take waiting for the streaming to buffer, causing him to watch his favorite players shoot the ball one slow frame at a time. And since he pays for everything, it was decided that the time for TFC has come.
And honestly it isn’t so bad. I now find myself getting hooked in the overly dramatic primetime soaps, and JG gets his twice a week dose of basketball. Hottest thing these days is Manny Pacquiao’s mother, Mommy Dionisia and her quest to be the next big star.
It’s still the same old shows, the same old Pinoy brand of entertainment, but it definitely makes us feel closer to home.