The third batch of "Pinoy Big Brother: Otso" housemates didn't have qualms speaking their minds on the controversial bill of making the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) a mandatory program for students of Senior High School, as approved by the House of Representatives on its third and final reading last May 20.
During a media conference on Friday at the Red Hotel in Quezon City, all six of the male housemates who didn't make it to the Big Four - namely, Lance Carr, Shoichi Oka, Emjay Savilla, Jem Macatuno, and Alfred Beruzil - agreed to the implementation of ROTC as a required program of the curriculum.
"May magandang effect naman siya sa mga students kasi kahit papaano, maraming talagang bagay ang unexpected na darating like wars, lalo na 'yung nangyari sa Mindanao, 'yung sa Marawi crisis," explained Lance, an 18-year-old who hails from Davao. "Even 'yung Night Market bombing na nangyari sa amin. Talagang hindi mo mae-expect kung ano ang mangyayari so better na prepared tayo."
Though he has no experience to speak of, 18-year-old Jem of Pampanga shared stories of his older siblings who had told him the positive effects of training for the ROTC.
He said, "'Di ko siya na-experience, but 'yung mga ate and kuya ko na-experience nila, and sinasabi nila 'yung mga positive effects niya sa isang tao, like magiging disiplinado, matututong gumalang. Hindi lang doon sa training, parang maa-apply din kasi talaga sa totoong buhay. And if ever man, [at least] may background kami kung paano protektahan 'yung bansa natin."
Another issue that came to light at the conference was the removal of the Filipino and Panitikan as required subjects in college, both upheld by the Supreme Court and Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Two of those who didn't agree with the ruling were Camarines Sur-native Emjay, 16, and 19-year-old Filipino-Japanese Shoichi, who said that he would love to study the Filipino language as he plans to stay longer in the Philippines.
"After ng PBB, gusto ko para sa akin to stay pa sa Pilipinas. Kahit medyo marunong na akong mag-Tagalog, gusto ko pa rin mag-aral ng [Filipino]," he said.
Lance, for his part, stressed that the national language is tied to our culture as a Fillipino people, hence making it significant.
"Important talaga ng Filipino subject kasi kumbaga ito 'yung pinanggalingan nating lahat. So, we must come back to our grassroots talaga para naman ma-appreciate natin 'yung kultura ng Pilipino," he said.
Such issues have been both met with backlash by several lawmakers and the public, citing that requiring ROTC to SHS students could possibly expose them to corruption and could cause further cases of hazing and harassment. Meanwhile, Tanggol Wika or Alyansa ng Mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino, an assembly of professors, students, writers and cultural activists who advocate the language, has since opposed the SC and CHED for the removal of Filipino and Panitikan as core subjects in college, calling the action a "cultural genocide".
On challenges they faced as housemates
On a lighter note, the male housemates also talked about the different challenges they faced while inside the famed Kuya's house. For Jem, it was being away from his family and completely isolated from the outside world.
"Lalo na nung mga first nights, iniisip mo pa rin kung anong nangyayari sa labas. Kahit hindi pwede pag-usapan. Minsan nga, hindi kami makatulog," he revealed.
"Para sa akin naman, it was adjusting to the other housemates," said Mich, 17, from Leyte. "Kasi I grew up, without living with 16 people together in one house."
Meanwhile, it was later confirmed that the said housemates are set to appear on Vice Ganda's "Gandang Gabi Vice" soon. They're also scheduled to guest on other talk shows such as "Magandang Buhay" and "Tonight With Boy Abunda".