Kapangyarihan ng Gatas sa Labi: A short criticism of Nestle’s Sali-Salita

Sali-Salita is a short film that is a part of the anthology Kasambuhay Habambuhay which is produced by Nestle Philippines in 2011 in celebration of its 100th year. Each film features a Nestle product and in the case of Sali-Salita, it features Nido.

Simply put, the plot of Sali-Salita is about a mother who was too occupied with work and consequently, ignores her son who tries to catch her attention. The mother works as a writer, and conflict arose when her son, while playing around the living room, accidently breaks her laptop where the piece she has been working on for a week is contained. She gets mad at her son who was saddened probably by the fact that not only did he not win his mother’s attention; he worsened the situation by further wounding their bond. When his grandfather arrived, he was quite joyful to find a playmate. His grandfather introduced a game – using an old Nido can – which he would enjoy while not making his mother annoyed. While watching her father and her son play the game, the mother was amused and this softens her towards her son.

Aside from the plot, we can infer some things based from some elements of the text. The mother can be seen constantly talking on the phone with a certain CJ, and at one point they were talking about a deadline. Here we can see that the mother, as a writer, works for someone else who is, directly or indirectly, someone higher, since there is someone dictating her deadline. This CJ may be her boss or someone who is also working for her boss. There is also the element of the house helper, who would often reprimand the boy because of his hardheadedness or mischief. Perhaps this house helper is also afraid that she will get reprimanded by the mother in case she cannot control the boy. We know that it is possible that a reprimand from the mother can cost the house helper her job, in the worst case scenario.

Analyzing the narrative in the Marxist perspective, we can say that the actions of the mother and of the house helper are all controlled – directly or indirectly – by an entity higher than them. The mother’s attitude towards her son is probably caused by the pressure on her to finish her story in time for her deadline. Thus, to her, the laptop getting broken is more important than her son getting hurt by his fall, she missing the laptop is more important than her son missing his grandfather – her father, and she fixing the old computer is more important than the arrival of her father to visit before he leaves the country. Because of the accident, she had to apologize to her boss because she missing the deadline might jeopardize the production process which would be problematic for the higher entity she answers to.

What is problematic with this text is that it portrays the mother as a villain because her being a workaholic severs her bonds with her son. But in reality, if we analyze the whole story including the part the text conceals, the mother is also a victim of a system which makes her act that way. The mother becomes alienated, as the Marxists say. She may or may not be happy with her work, but with the presence of her boss and her deadlines, the work becomes somewhat not voluntary but imposed. It seems then that “it is not [her] work but work for someone else, that in work [she] does not belong to [herself] but to another person” (qtd. in Berger 56). Thus she becomes “separated or estranged from [her] work, from friends, from [herself], and from life” (Berger 56).

Same goes for the house helper. She is portrayed as a villain both in the main narrative and in the sub-narrative of the text, as if she is not a victim of the system herself. Remember that she answers to the mother and is herself affected by the mother’s behaviors. There is a two-level manipulation and one is manipulated by the one directly above them.

Let us remember that this text is a branded content; hence, an advertisement. The text frames it such that the resolution would not be possible if it were not for Nido. According to Arthur Berger, “one thing that advertising does is divert people’s attention form social and political concerns and steer that attention toward narcissistic and private concerns” (58). In this case, the producers probably knew that the short film would have more appeal by focusing the plot on the conflicts within the family and disregarding the facts earlier discussed.

Works Cited

Berger, Arthur Asa. Media Analysis Techniques, 3rd Ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005. Print.

Video link

Nestle Philippines. “Nestle Philippines Short Film Anthology with English Subtitles: “Sali-Salita”.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 31 Aug. 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXx5jWWHck4>

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