When the remote control demanded a “break”

The advent of cable television in our house a few years back brought in a whole new schedule which disturbed our daily routine.

Just for P220 installation fee, we had joined the millions of Filipinos who are now part of the “global village”. We can now watch TV programs from neighboring Asian countries to as far as Europe. News events in all parts of the world can now be seen simultaneously and instantaneously. But cable TV has its drawbacks.

They say watching TV cuts into family time, harms children’s ability to read and succeed in school, contributes to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity. I disagree with the TV interfering with my ability to succeed in school because TV or no TV, my grades were always only one notch above passing level but I agree with the last one because often times I’ve eaten my meals infront of the television and I was unaware that I had eaten more than what I normally eat.

The first week after we hooked up to cable TV brought in a lot of adjustments to all members of the household in order to avoid conflicts.

Everyone was excited about it and we fought for control of the remote we absorbed the shows, from the announcers on the promos who tell us how incredible, funny, groundbreaking, and must-see the upcoming shows are to almost anything shown on screen.

My younger brother would watch TV from morning till late afternoon, eating his meals infront of the TV. My father would watch the evening news. After that, we would watch soap operas and immediately after the members of my family would retire at night, I would have complete control of the television, watching shows until one or two o’clock in the morning.
As soon as I close my eyes to sleep, I could hear somebody turning on the TV. That would be my youngest brother. He would watch shows until 5 or so in the morning and go back to sleep after.
You would think that the TV would finally get a chance to cool off but you’re dead wrong because at six o’clock my eight and ten-year old nieces would wake up and watch cartoons.

Then there’s our house helper who can flip more channels faster than anyone every time a commercial flashes on the screen every chance she gets.

The most worn-out numbers in the remote control are those assigned for ESPN, TNT and Cartoon Network, HBO Asia, Discovery Channel, Star TV, and Viva Cinema (not in that order).

It is obvious to me that television has become the scapegoat of our time. We don’t need anyone to tell us about our television. When our lives seem dull and unimaginative, who gave us comedy shows that make us laugh? It’s our television. Remember how it felt when we were too sick to go to school but not to sick to watch TV?

In our house that 14-inch squarish object has caused more squabble than anything ever did for many years. As children our television has caused more quarrels between us kids as we fought for channels but the fights doubled when we hooked up to cable tv although we were already adults.

I know that if only the television can talk, it would have screamed for rest and relief a long time ago.

But one day exactly one month after we hooked up to cable TV, my mother’s problem came to an end, unexpectedly solved by the remote control. Although it can’t talk, it demanded a vacation leave by refusing to function.

I was the first to discover it. Arriving at an empty house one day, I was relieved to know that I can have peace at last and be king over the television if only for a while.
Curling on the sofa as soon as I changed clothes, I was surprised to discover that the remote control would not function. No matter how hard I pressed, it wouldn’t work so I changed the batteries but it still wouldn’t work.

After poking and trying in vain to make the remote control work again, I gave up. The effect of the broken remote control pleased my mother because channel surfing was greatly reduced.
It was already a great burden to go over to the TV set to flip channels instead of relaxing while watching TV. My mother decided not to have the remote control repaired and I could just imagine our TV set dancing in glee.*

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