The Department of Health received intense criticism from Filipino netizens almost immediately after it released a three-minute web video discussing the negative effects of premarital sex and teenage pregnancy early Monday morning.
The ad campaign inexplicably uses the words “gaga girl” and “bobo boy” in its first eight seconds (those Tagalog adjectives can both be translated as “stupid” or “dumb”). The opening verse carries these lyrics:
Female voice: “Pag kita-kits kita, sabi ng puso ko, boom-boom-boom-boom! Ahahahay!”
Male voice: “Pag kita-kits kita, nakakagigil ka! Parang di ko na kayang magpigil pa!”
Older male voice: “Naku naman hija, naku naman hijo. Maghunod-dili k dahil bata ka pa!
Magtapos ka muna, maghintay ka muna. Wag kang rumaragasa nang di ka naman madapa.”
A cheerdance squad practicing their routines can be seen throughout the video ad. The concept of the video and the message it wants to impart doesn’t appear to be aligned.
In the 1:45 part of the clip, this exchange can be heard:
Adult male voice: “Dapat naman magtapos ka muna! Dapat naman maghintay ka muna! Wag magkasala! Wag madapa!”
Younger voices: “Wag mag-alala. Di kami tanga!”
This dialogue meanwhile can be heard toward the end:
Boy: Kung ako’y mahal mo, surrender mo ang bandila. Ibigay mo na. Sagot kita, sagot kita
Girl: Kung ako’y mahal mo, ‘di mo ko pipilitin. ‘Di pa ko ready. Maghintay ka, maghintay ka.
The video was uploaded by DOH on its Facebook page but it was promptly deleted after receiving negative feedback from those who’ve watched it.
DOH is not the only government agency to use video ad campaigns to promote their programs. There’s the Department of Tourism’s “Halika, Biyahe Tayo!” music video (watch the 2012 version here) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s catchy “It’s Easy to RFP (Register, File, and Pay)” jingle.
There is no doubt that the issue being tackled in this web ad is very relevant to Filipinos. The Filipino Scribe pointed out the problem of premarital pregnancies in two blog posts back in 2011 (read it here and here). As early as back then, we argued that the youth needs to be engaged in more informative discussions about sex – particularly from their parents and teachers.
Now, having said that, how did this particular DOH video ad campaign veer wildly off course? Here are two factors I can see:
1) If you are producing a video that tackles sensitive issues like premarital sex and teenage pregnancies, why will you use a cheering squad? The upbeat tone of the video is not appropriate for this public service announcement.
2) Some lines in the jingle are simply laughable. Using words like “tanga,” “gaga,” and “bobo” are not acceptable in almost every imaginable context unless perhaps when you’re talking to a really close friend.
As an advocate of reproductive health (RH) education, I commend the message of the jingle urging the youth to control their emotions and set their life priorities.
However, this blunder is totally disappointing. Just imagine how much taxpayers’ money the DOH has spent on this failed ad campaign! Adding insult to injury is the fact that all these could have been prevented had the health department conducted simple focus group discussions to predict possible audience reactions to the video.
The department’s mishandling of this initiative might also be used by religious groups in raising questions on how the government will enforce Republic Act 10354 or the Reproductive Health and Responsible Parenthood Act of 2012 (its full implementation began yesterday, November 30).
(PS: Do you remember the Tourism Department’s short-lived “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” campaign back in 2010? Well, they spent as much as P3.7 million on that.)