NOTE: As part of the SEA camp, participants are encouraged to write their media memoirs – reflections on how the media has influenced their lives and perspectives, regardless of whether it’s news, television, films, books or even the radio. Through these media memoirs we see how the media can shape us, and appreciate the importance of media literacy in our countries. SEAYSS will be publishing the media memoirs of most – if not all – the participants of 2012′s SEA camp, together with reflections on the state of media literacy in Southeast Asian countries. If you have any thoughts about media literacy in your country, do comment on our articles or email us your thoughts at editor[at]seayouthsayso[dot]com!
There are three kinds of people in the world: the bad guys who inflict harm, the victims who get all the suffering and the good guy who saves the weak. These were the views I carried when I was a child, views that led me to believe that some of the good guys were superheroes. I knew that they existed and they were out there willing to defend us from any kind of threat and danger. They had sincere, caring hearts and aimed to stop violence and win the fight for peace and humanity. They made me believe that evil will never win and that it takes great love to conquer fear, sadness, pain and danger. I believed in the superheroes called the Power Rangers and through them, I started believing in peace.
I watched the Power Rangers on Philippine television in the 90s. It was an American television series that was shown during my childhood. The Power Rangers were not ordinary superheroes; they were a group of teenagers from different walks of life united for a common goal: to defend this world. They were really famous back then. I remember asking my dad to tell me how to become a Power Ranger. I wanted to be Power Ranger Gold – the mighty one. My dad supported my love of these superheroes and told me I would be one, I just needed to wait. While waiting to be the next Power Ranger, he bought me toys, t-shirts, cards and brought me to the cinema to watch the second film of the series. I still remember how excited I was every time I saw them on the screen. I just felt safe and brave. It felt real.
But there was a turning point in my life as I grew older. I lost my faith to those heroes when I understood the realities in this world about violence, deaths and war in the news. I was disappointed to realize that the Power Rangers weren’t there to protect us. They were supposed to be there. They could have defeated terrorists and bad guys easily. I knew they could because they defeated monsters, didn’t they? Why did they abandon us? Why did they leave me? I felt betrayed and embarrassed when I slowly realized that some guy had just made up the stories about the Power Rangers to earn a living. The Power Rangers were man-made stories and nothing more. This changed how I viewed the world. I then thought that the world would never be at peace because like the Power Rangers, they were all pieces of man-made fantasies. So I started classifying three kinds of people: the bad guys, the victims and the person who lied about the Power Rangers. There was no good guy anymore. Violence and war was the only truth – nothing else.
Becoming a young adult, going to school, being exposed to a lot of things and growing independent made me look back on my childhood and ask myself, “Should we really rely on the Power Rangers to defend ourselves? Should we wait for other people to act for us? If they were not real, does that mean that we cannot do anything about our problems? Am I that powerless?”
These questions somehow moved me as a person. I realized that while there may be no Power Rangers in real life and I may not be the next Power Ranger Gold, I can still be a hero for my people. I can be the start of the positive change I want to see in my society. It only takes a choice and the courage to do so.
Today I remember what my father told me: to wait for the right time. He was right. It took time for me to understand how we can be our very own Power Rangers and how we can have super powers too. The power to love, to respect and to understand people. The power to say no to violence and say yes to change. The power to unite and harmonize with one another even if we are of different colors, races, ethnicities and beliefs. It’s the power to hope and move together as humanity towards peace.
Today, I am not Power Ranger Gold, but Arnold Bucoy, a young man, a journalist, a student, and a peace advocate. And that makes me a real Ranger.