Tainted Museum Pieces

It’s the ink that stains meaningful words on a newspaper, but it is the blood of our not-so-distant Media forefathers that enabled such. It’s a simple broadcasting voice we hear over the radio, yet such voice emanates from a past with deafening silence. These I have pondered during my experience at the Cebu Journalism and Journalists (CJJ) gallery in Museo Sugbo.

It was my first time to visit a gallery for Philippine Media origins. It’s as if I walked inside a network of aged mechanical gears operating as a foundation of a modern device. Displayed there are some of the oldest Philippine newspaper articles, old printing machines, radios and mind you, people in the 50’s don’t need to be envious of today’s DSLR cameras; they have their own versions too.

As I positioned myself and channel my vision into the old cameras’ lenses, there were no pictures to see, but there were a lot to think about; that a mere vintage camera can summarize the humble beginnings of Philippine Media.

Just looking at the senescent newspaper articles – many of which are written in Spanish -absorbed my presence into it and immediately changed the atmosphere into a dimension that the modern time proudly disowns. 1942, 1956 and 1959 are some of the years indicated in the articles which surely means they endured and resisted much and rightfully deserve the preservation, for they are not just museum pieces but a fraction of our media entity.

What might the unlit “on the air” sign above the radio booth mean? Perhaps it signifies the dull and impoverished era of the radio industry; the period when the voice of the voices became the most silenced instead, choked by invisible hands of power. A single side turn away from the radio booth is a strange-looking box-shaped device. I was about to reheat the snack I brought into it when I realized it was an antique radio. Technological advancement rampantly revolutionized the world that before the poor radio knew it was too old, its grandchildren were already living happily inside our pockets; and that after I mistook a radio for a microwave oven, I gulped my own thoughts of “I should learn more about my field”. Though it’s a crying shame for me to be unable to fill my own blanks of knowledge about my very field of study, I look to it as more of a big-time slap so I may be awake from this embarrassing ignorance.

The gallery room’s size is similar to a typical classroom with a variety of items that may not be countable by our fingers but sure can fit into my gadget’s memory. Nevertheless, space does not limit the amount of learning and the degree of pride that is added to me and other visitors. Much essential than the preserved items is the sense of nationalism that I have felt inside the gallery.

A constellation of portraits and biographies of our most respected Media founders and pioneers can be observed. As I was looking at some, I remembered the time when I just innocently pass through M. Cabigon and Tormis streets in Private way back childhood. It was only then I realized that they were Cebuano Media icons.

Broadcast and print media before were more of a struggle than a livelihood. It complicates my comprehension of why Media, as an exercise of freedom itself, be the means of fighting to acquire freedom? Another insight of mine is that disseminating news before was a big step towards nation-building, unifying the people and instilling them the idea to combat for a single endeavor – freedom, even at the cost of some lives. Nowadays, Media has established a strong denotation and connotation of its name, with a parcel of the law to enjoy privileges. Yet Media is seemingly taking sides with corruption; and the more both of them collides, the more it becomes harder to detect.

Not all portions of learning are from the four corners of the classroom. Some are from that of a gallery. A simple visit to the CJJ gallery imbues a vast surface of knowledge to my journalistic character, on par (or even much) with the expanse of knowledge I have gathered in my three years of Communication study.

Tracing back the roots is always a wonderful activity. It elevates one’s sense of self and enables a collection of disciplines, values, principles (journalism in this case) to propagate. We can contain valuable pieces and information more than a gallery can.

The next time you read a newspaper, try to heighten your senses and look past the words. There is more than just one writer, of more than just one generation, of more than just one purpose. The next time you listen to radio news, strive to acknowledge that the voice you hear has more than just news to share. And the next time the word media comes to your thinking, remember that we are still in the struggle.

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