Netizens were flabbergasted when video clippings of the “Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition” contestants erroneously answering questions about Philippine history and general information flooded the internet. Shocking were the answers to the following questions: What is the longest bridge in the Philippines? Answer: SLEX. What is the summer capital of the Philippines? Answer: Intramuros. The bit that caught the attention of everyone was when the contestants referred to the GomBurZa as “MaJoHa,” as if referring to monikers of showbiz love teams like “KathNiel” or “LizQuen.”
Days before the disastrous episode of that reality show, the “proposal” of basketball player Ricci Rivero to teen starlet Andrea Brillantes to be his girlfriend happened. This was after Rivero’s team, the UP Fighting Maroons, edged out the FEU Tamaraws in a hard-fought win. Instead of highlighting the brilliance of student-athletes who performed well in that game like uber-athlete Zavier Lucero who finished with a game-high 27 points, the gritty stand of LJ Gonzales of FEU who refused to lose with his own 20-point performance, or the court generalship of young Joel “Mai-Mai” Cagulangan who steadied the Fighting Maroons late in the game against every Tamaraw rally, what flooded the headlines after the game and the days after was the cheap stunt of a proposal, a non-factor in that classic-in-the-making of a game.
We asked ourselves why do have dumb and dumber things proliferating? Why do we have MaJoHa? First, because we have shows like Pinoy Big Brother instead of educational shows like Bayani, Hirayamanawari, or even the well-loved Batibot. What do we learn with having Pinoy Big Brother? What do we get from monitoring the lives of the contestants 24/7? What educational value can we extract with the conflicts among the “housemates”/ contestants? None. Nada. Nil.
Instead of educating viewers, Pinoy Big Brother is telling us, most especially the youth, to disregard the value of a good education in exchange for being famous for the sake of being famous, as being a celebrity can give one instant fortune. That idea is a hit in the third-world realm we are living in. Celebrity status and some amount of money can just bring one to somewhere. But showbusiness is a dog-eat-dog industry. Today you can be famous and rich, but surviving tomorrow is another story. You are only as good as your last performance. There is no assurance of a steady tomorrow. Thus, education still has more value than fame and fortune because a good educational foundation can bring one not only somewhere, but everywhere.
Secondly, instead of giving credit to excellent performance, we take notice of the non-essentials. Season 83 of the UAAP has this theme, “Fully Alive, Champions for Life” and in that particular game between the UP Fighting Maroons and FEU Tamaraws, Zavier Lucero, LJ Gonzales, and Mai-Mai- Cagulangan exemplified and lived out that theme. Yet their names were nowhere to be found in headlines days after. It was filled with that cheap stunt Rivero pulled off after the game to the delight of their “fans.” Instead of highlighting the good performance of athletes who performed well, a sidelight became the highlight.
MaJoHa exists not only because we have failed to revisit the curriculum we teach in schools. That dumbness exists because we allow ourselves, especially our young people, to choose fame over education; to perform cheap stunts and feature mere sidelights rather than celebrate excellence in what one does. We need to refocus our priorities and check our motivations because if we continue to patronize these non-essentials, we are breeding a whole generation of MaJoHa. God help us.