Philippines Culture

Philippines Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Philippines

According to PAYHELPCENTER.COM, Philippines is a country located in Asia. Newspaper density in the Philippines is relatively high (82 newspaper ex. Per 1,000 residents, 2000). The 1987 Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, but some restrictions have occasionally been made to prevent rebel groups from speaking. Of the approximately 25 daily newspapers published in the Manila area, the two largest are People Tonight (500,000 copies) and Abante (350,000 copies), both published in English and Pilipino, and the English-language Manila Bulletin (265,000 copies). Other major newspapers are the Philippine Daily Inquirer (250,000 copies) and People’s Journal (220,000 copies).

In radio and television, there is in principle free right of establishment. However, a government agency has overall control. There are a total of 380 commercial radio stations, often bundled in nationwide channels. The Philippines has seven national TV channels, most commercial. In 1992, however, a new state channel was started, PTV4 (People’s Television Network). There are 161 radio and 144 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ANIMALERTS, the original culture has not been able to develop. Spanish colonialism for nearly 400 years, followed by strong American influence, has prevented it. Among the few who have managed to preserve parts of Malay culture and ancient traditions are the Muslims of the southern Philippines.

Today, most people have Spanish names, speak English with American accent and are Catholics. It gives the whole culture a more Latin American than Asian character. The Filipino dance bands that flood Asia’s nightclubs play Latin American and Western influenced music. Hip hop and rap are popular with many young people. The Philippine All-Stars dance group has won the World Cup for hip hop dancers in the US in both 2008 and 2009. The traditional music lives on only with the minority people.

The historically most famous author is José Rizal, executed by the Spaniards in 1896 for his anti-Spanish writing. He is now regarded as a national hero. More modern writers include Ninotchka Rosca, José Garcia Villa, Stevan Javellana, Carmen Guerrero Nakpil, Francisco Sionil José in Canada, whose debut novel Ilustrado has also been translated into Swedish. Many of today’s writers write in English.

Among the hundreds of films produced annually, adventure films and sentimental love stories dominate. Among the best known directors are Lino Brocka and Brillante Mendoza. Newer names include directors such as Joseph Israel Laban and Lav Diaz. The latter won the Gold Lion in Venice 2016 with the movie The Woman Who Left.

In recent years, Filipino animated films, pinoy, have reached success. One of the most famous is the Tagalog-speaking Urduja, directed by Reggie Entienz. American film companies such as Disney, Cartoon Network and Warner Brothers have moved part of their production of animated films to the Philippines.

Mass Media

The constitution guarantees freedom of press and expression. Filipino media are often outspoken, but freedom is limited by advocacy laws that power holders use to silence criticism of them. It is dangerous to be a journalist in the Philippines. According to the Press Freedom Organization Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 79 Filipino journalists were killed between 1992 and 2017 (the organization lists a further 50 cases, where it was not confirmed that journalists were killed because of their profession).

Few of the perpetrators have been punished for these crimes. This applies not least to a well-known massacre at Mindanao in 2009 when 58 people, of whom 32 media workers were murdered. Although more than 100 people have been prosecuted for the massacre, no one has been convicted of the act, while several witnesses or their relatives have been murdered. The suspicions were quickly directed at the powerful Ampatuan clan, which has long dominated politics in the Maguindanao province. In July 2015, one of the principal suspects, Andal Ampatuan Sr. passed away.

In 2012, a new law was adopted to combat online crime, which includes, among other things, advocacy laws that are similar to those applicable to press and ether media, but which can be punished even more severely (imprisonment for up to six years). The law aroused protests from those who felt the government was given too sweeping powers to shut down and monitor web sites. In February 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that the advocacy section of the law did not violate the Constitution. Former President Benigno Aquino defended in connection with the law he said would not be used to restrict freedom of expression in the Philippines.

Even before Rodrigo Duterte had taken over the 2016 presidential post, he made several statements to journalists. He appeared to support “corrupt journalists” and claimed that those who had been murdered “probably did something” to deserve his fate. In retrospect, it has emerged how methodically the Dutertel camp used social media during the 2016 election campaign, when the opposition was flung through texts and films that were spread with the help of 500 “volunteers”, bloggers, cures and more. After Duterte took over as president, he and the government have used the same channels to support their policies, not least the president’s war on drugs. The threats and harassment against media workers have also increased significantly.

This was first noticed by the Rappler news site, founded in 2012 by CNN journalist Maria Ressa, among others. Rappler’s material is widely disseminated through social media. Its reporting has many times been a nail in the eye of President Rodrigo Duterte, who on a number of occasions has harshly criticized the site. In early 2018, the Philippine Financial Supervisory Authority decided to revoke the issuing permit for Rappler, citing that the company violated the rules that domestic media must not have foreign owners (see also Calendar). However, the decision has been appealed. Further legal proceedings have been initiated against Ressa for tax crimes and “cyber defamation”.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer published after Duterte took over lists of those who had been killed in his war on the drugs, but ended it, among other things after threats of a tax process, the owner family has sold its shares to Ramon Ang, a corporate magnate who is a friend of Duterte. The TV company ABS-CBN has also reported on extra-judicial executions and that Duterte should have hidden money in secret accounts and risk being punished for not having his broadcast license renewed when the old one expires in 2020.

In 2017, a new law came into force that gives journalists access to government documents and protocols. However, criticism has been directed at the fact that the media has a hard time getting the documents they want to read, because of the many exceptions.

A special police unit was created in 2006 to combat the violence against journalists, but this has not led to any major changes.

According to a law, the Human Security Act of 2007, journalists can be intercepted if they are suspected of conspiring with terrorists. In 2013, a journalist was convicted of a fine for publishing the name of a criminal suspect who had already been named in a police report that was public.

There is a censorship authority for film and television programs, but it rarely interferes with political material.

A small number of families control a large part of the media offering that they often use to advance their own political and financial interests. There is an open debate about whether bribes are paid to influence the media’s news reporting. There are about 500 newspapers. About 10 newspapers, most of them in English, are responsible for more serious news reporting. The most important newspapers include People’s Tonight, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Manila Times, Abante, Malaya, Daily Tribune, Business World and Philippine Daily Inquirer, the largest of which say they have a circulation of a few hundred thousand. There are also a number of tabloid magazines on tagalog and cebuano mainly contains sensation articles. Many of the more serious magazines also publish special tabloid newspapers.

Most of the several hundred radio stations are financed with advertising. In rural areas, many radio stations are owned by locally influential families. Many churches also have their own radio channels. The largest network is Manila Broadcasting Company. Television broadcasts are dominated by commercial channels such as ABS-CBN and GMA. Some channels broadcast in local languages. Many people also watch cable TV. Movies and various entertainment programs attract the most viewers. The main state TV channel is PTV4.

About two-thirds of all Filipinos are online, often through smart phones. Of these, at least 97 percent have a Facebook account, and more and more Filipinos now receive a large portion of their news via Facebook.

In Reporters Without Borders index of freedom of the press in the world, the Philippines ranked 2018 in number 133 of 180 countries.

Read more about the Philippines in UI’s publication Foreign magazine:
Gilla Duterte or risk being attacked in social media (2018-10-16)


Percentage of the population using the internet

60 percent (2017)

Number of mobile subscriptions per 100 residents

110 (2017)

Philippines Culture

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