Tracing the History of Philippine Media

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


IF a significant event happened in the past and nobody wrote about it, is it part of history? Terms such as “fragments of the past, history yet to be written, historiography and media archaeology” are words that caught my attention during a recent forum that I attended in Quezon City which was meant to trace the history of Philippine media.

The Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication in partnership with the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO, the Philippine Information Agency, Philippine Association of Communication Educators and the Philippine Press Institute recently initiated the forum on Philippine media on the premise that there is a need to know the past in order to understand the future.

Sketchy account of Philippine history tells us that an indigenous form of communication was already in existence as evidenced by writings on barks and bamboos. Similar to the town criers of old England, our pre-Spanish period had umalokohan according to the timeline presented by the AIJC.

During the Hispanic period, cenaculo, pasyon, pastores, awit, corridor, balagtasan and balitao flourished as a folk media and news dissemination was done by the Spanish government through a one-issue newsletter called hojas volantes. The Sucesos Felices, a newsletter by Filipino book writer Tomas Pinpin was first published in 1637 on Spanish successes in Mindanao and the Moluccas.

Being part of the batch of University of Santo Tomas Fine Arts students who were tapped to research and portray the first Filipino Saint San Lorenzo Ruiz back in the early 80s, I have thought of giving an image to the first Filipino printer by calling the descendants of Tomas Pinpin. Any inputs whether facial and racial profiles or anecdotes about Pinpin can serve as my basis in portraying the first printer.

Archeology – I think this is a particular field or vocation that I can spend or waste my time after working for over three decades with communicative services.

Prof. Marco M. Polo of De La Salle-Dasmarinas and a member of PACE laid out his 12 points Research Agenda stressing that any study tracing the history of Philippine media must be coherent, extensive, inclusive and exemplary. The study must establish and support historical researches or media archeology. The De La Salle professor said “huwag nating itapon ang ating mga gamit gaya ng projectors” as it serves as a reflection of the tools used in the past. Polo further urged faculty, staff and students to develop interest and capacity to do research and include the teaching of Philippine Media History in schools.

The setting up of local media museums whether virtual or physical was one of the things discussed during the forum and I took the privilege of informing the participants of the presence of a media newseum in Baguio right within the university belt area. Well known writer and university professor Alice Colet-Villadolid who sat in a forum defining the Philippine Media History Research Agenda believes that there’s a big diff between professional media and Facebook media that grew incessantly in recent years. Villadolid noted the big impact of these new media on consumers stating that the later must distinguish citizen journalism from established media reports. These new media has also created a big impact on politics and elections Villadolid noted.

Veteran newsman Gil Santos suggested during the workshop that those undertaking media researches must be duly compensated in order for their hard work to be totally appreciated.

The forum ended with a general consensus signifying that those in the academic profession can look at themselves as empowered sector to conduct researches and for schools offering mass communication to serve as media generators. Philippine Information Agency Director General Jose Mari Oquinena challenged the forum participants to be co-authors of a book on RP’s Media History and urged everyone to help PIA build a communication museum which is to be housed in their building along Visayas Ave. Quezon City. Meanwhile in Baguio City, I’ll continue to expand what I have started as an edutainment center that I now call media newseum.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 14, 2014.

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