The Department of Health (DOH) has recently come out with a new ad (see embedded video above) designed to “combat” teenage pregnancy, which is definitely noble in intention, what with our country being one of the countries with the highest incidence of teenage pregnancy in the entirety of Asia. Unfortunately, how the ad went about it was terrible. Cringe-inducing terrible.
Here are 8 reasons why we really aren’t huge fans of the latest “GABO” DOH ad…
Oh, lordy. The lyrics. “Kung ako’y mahal mo, surrender mo ang bandila?!?” Who talks like that?!?
Did they hire a jeje rapper to make these lyrics or something?
Obviously, this was a campaign targeted towards abstinence, instead of promoting using birth control. Which, again, falls under the dichotomy of the RH Law divide between conservatives and progressives. That’s well and good, if you personally fall under one way or the other, but as a government agency, that isn’t their job. Their job as the DOH actually involves making people aware of birth control, because heaven knows a ton of adults in our country know next to nothing about it, too. And we already know for a fact that abstinence campaigns are a complete bust, because at no point do you tell these kids about how to use protection when they do end up being unable to resist their urges.
Nobody says you shouldn’t encourage abstinence. But to make it the only option you’re promoting is disingenuous and misleading at the same time. Remember: this is a health campaign, not a morality campaign.
Now, think about how this works in the context of the “GABO” ad: the ad tries to scare kids into not having sex, without being given any relevant information (they never mentioned teenage pregnancy even once in the song!) why they shouldn’t, other than “older people said so.” And if there’s one thing teens with rebellious tendencies and raging hormones would totally listen to without being given reasonable justification, it’s older people, right?
We get that a lot of people believe that sex outside of marriage is a sin, but determining what is and isn’t a sin isn’t the job of the Department Of Health. Maybe if the government had a Department Of Morality, they would have been in a better position to talk about sex this way.
A shame about that potential acronym, though.
You want to talk about promoting abstinence or awareness about teenage pregnancy, yet you decide to skirt around the issue by using insipid euphemisms and obnoxious metaphors. So what exactly is the message here? Your target market, teenagers, aren’t idiots. You just said so yourself! They’re not “gaga girls” and “bobo boys,” so why are you trying to talk to them like they’re five years old? In a world where “Two Wives” exists, do you really think playing coy would do your target market any good?
The funny thing is, despite all these euphemisms and metaphors and attempts to make the message as MTRCB-friendly as possible, the ad still manages to be tactless and insulting by calling teenagers who have sex “gaga” and “bobo.” Great job! The only thing people remember about this song is that you called teenagers that, because everything else you said was lost in an endless morass of Bowdlerization that would make Xerex Xaviera very proud.
If you can’t explain your campaign without trying to sugarcoat it to the point where none of it makes any sense, then maybe you shouldn’t waste your time doing it?
Or maybe they paid for the rights for the tune so it wasn’t plagiarism at all? Well, if they did, then let’s not forget that…
Just like “Bilog Na Hugis Itlog” by the Sex Bomb Dancers, just like #ManyakTatay in the MTRCB ratings commercial, we, the taxpayers, produced the “GABO” ad with our taxes. And while the Sex Bomb song and the MTRCB ads are all pretty annoying, they at least got their respective messages across. This is not what “GABO” did. All it did was to add a patently idiotic song to our nation’s history, and taught the teenagers they were hoping would avoid getting pregnant absolutely nothing, except maybe how not to make an infomercial.
This infomercial was every bit as useless as a steak knife in a soup kitchen: you don’t get to use it for anything worthwhile, but you end up wanting to stab someone because of how stupid the whole thing is.