MTRCB in a state of Grace
POINTILLISMS - Mike Acebedo Lopez () - January 15, 2011 - 12:00am

When I heard Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, only daughter of ‘Da King’ Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces, was going to be appointed as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, I felt excited for the agency and for myself (I always seem to gravitate towards women of character and strength, and the prospect of working under her as MTRCB board member electrified my being).

At times when I’d see her on TV, she would always have an aura of class and pedigree, perhaps owing to her being the offspring of showbiz royalty. But she wouldn’t inherit the kingdom her parents have ruled for a long time, as she has obviously embarked on a journey to develop her own brand of nobility—the nobility of public service—something her father could’ve also conquered, if only all is really fair in love and war, and elections too.

Having a degree in political science from Boston College and having managed, as its Chief Operating Officer and treasurer, the FPJ Productions and Film Archive, Inc., (a multi-million peso company some estimate to be worth well over a billion), Grace could arguably be the most qualified head of the MTRCB to date.

A child of the industry, it is obvious that she has a good grasp of the issues that usually confront artists and producers. Being a mother, on the other hand, gives her a sense of balance much needed in her current post.

And this impressive background should come in handy in leading and managing a relatively small agency tasked with a mammoth role of, among other things, making sure our children are kept from seeing things they shouldn’t be seeing.

Liberals versus conservatives, a delicate balance

Heading the MTRCB can be such a headache, especially when the people you have to deal with everyday come from opposite poles in a broad spectrum of beliefs, persuasions, and ideologies (not to mention egos). You make one wrong move, and you’re in the news, more so because it’s the media you review and classify, and because we live in a society so hypocrite, so ‘holier than thou.’

So in a sense, because of this constant interplay (which is, many times, a struggle, a tug of war) between liberals and conservatives inside and outside the agency, the MTRCB may be seen as a microcosm of the larger society, therefore requiring a leader who knows how to tread the delicate balance in finding the middle ground. I remember Chair Grace mentioned to me in one of our conversations that she’s always dreamed of being a diplomat. No wonder she’s doing remarkably well in her first few months—diplomacy, after all, is all about finding the middle ground.

Fr. Jejemon baptized her with fire

And this inherent diplomatic skill was put to the test last Christmas when controversy broke out concerning comedy king Dolphy’s movie, ‘Fr. Jejemon.’ Contentious scenes involving the Holy Eucharist made it to the film’s trailer, angering many religious groups and the influential Catholic Church.

Now a certified crisis manager, Chair Grace was busy texting people when everyone else was singing Christmas carols and exchanging gifts, quietly resolving the problem before coming out with a statement that effectively put the issue to rest. That’s conflict resolution 101.

A lesser mortal would have messed it up, courting a backlash from the sectors involved, but Grace had grace under pressure.

MTRCB’s relevance

The Fr. Jejemon issue and its corresponding response from the MTRCB and its head strongly reaffirm and reassert the MTRCB’s relevance.

And how the issue was quickly arrested, alongside Chair Llamanzares’s character as a person and as a leader, is foretelling of things to come—I predict a golden age for the agency, when competence and standards, decency and values, creativity and brilliance are given a high premium, a time when the MTRCB (and the industry it guides) is in a state of Grace.

Pit Senyor sa tanan!

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Tonight on The Bottomline with Boy Abunda: Hubert Webb bares his thoughts and feelings on being jailed for 15 years as the prime suspect in the massacre that shocked a nation and the moves of some sectors to demand a reversal of the Supreme Court ruling that freed him, all in an explosive one-on-one with the country’s King of Talk.

Watch it after Banana Split on ABS-CBN. Replay telecast on the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), Sunday, 1:30 pm.

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