Kalinga was on national news last night, not because of another delightful whitewater rafting adventure along the Chico River, a breath-taking mountain trek in Balbalasang, the taste of our delectable onoy rice, or a tourist's unforgettable experience of our hospitality, but because of a tussle inside the DZRK radio station. Governor Jocel Baac was caught on video barging his way into the announcer's booth and snatching the microphones from Jerome Tabbanganay who was then on air. Jerome claimed he was hit (or the Governor hit him) on the face during the commotion.
"Ayna apo, kababain," I reacted, and wondered what the rumpus was all about. Although the report was sketchy about the circumstances that led to apo Jocel Baac's outburst, it is clear that Jerome's hard-hitting commentaries got the Governor's goat.
The whole affair may be something which Jocel Baac's political rivals and Jerome Tabbanganay's ill-wishers may gloat over, but it is to me something to cry about. First, I admire them both -- Governor Baac for being a talented leader who has done a lot of good things for his constituents, and manong Jerome for being a true journalist who has fearlessly articulated the legitimate sentiments of countless individuals who find filing complaints through text messaging more convenient than personally coming out in the open to air their views or complaints. Second, Jocel and Jerome are my dad's friends who never failed to acknowledge the old man's contributions to the development of the province -- the former crediting Gus Saboy for the numerous local legislations implemented by the provincial government, and the latter acknowledging the pioneering role Gus Saboy played in the establishment of the first radio station in Kalinga. Third, I have pleasant memories of that announcer's booth where, as an agraraman nga ubing, I used to sit with Magdalena Calilung and Naiza Magaao (now married to Larry Lopez of PIA) beside me, bearing with my poor attempt at playing kiddie announcer. And fourth, the incident will surely continue to expand the negative connotations of our ethnicity, with even some of our own people remarking in jest about a "Kinakalinga nga aramid." So I have every personal reason to be sad about the two having a spat in the DZRK booth.
Perhaps, this incident reflects what Kalinga still lacks or needs: sustained reforms in local governance, a critical evaluation of our cultural idiosyncrasies, maturity in handling criticisms and conflicts or in dealing with our personal and ethnic insecurities, the ability to make criticisms constructive, and a better understanding of how a political powerhouse or the media airwaves can make and unmake us.
We are all guilty of hurting others with our unguarded words and rash acts. Thankfully, we are also capable of making amends and rebuilding ruined relationships.
I hope that something can still be done to bridge apo Jocel and manong Jerome's rift. I hope that the next news about the two is not going to be good news because it is bad.