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Media Hegemony in the Philippines

Updated on January 7, 2017

The Filipinos does not come out into the world just as they are now today. The Philippines is not a pure cultured country and neither the Filipino’s blood that runs within their veins pure - for just like the intermarriage of different races that conquer the archipelago - not the dominant beliefs and traditions today is a pure culture of their own. The Filipino culture is a mixed conglomeration of different culture taken from and influenced by those who conquest it since the beginning of its arousal from the beds of Pacific Ocean.

Historically, it was said that the first inhabitants who settled on the Philippine archipelago are the Negritos and their fellow Australoid Sakai race who migrated from the South Asia during the first Philippine culture recorded in the Philippine history. However, their cultures have not become the dominant culture of Filipinos today but somehow have some traces of it like fishing. But the most influential race that migrated into the Philippine archipelago that marks a great impact on the Philippine culture today and that shape the Filipinos today are the Malay race.

One of the culture that mostly influence the Filipino today from both Malay, Spaniards, and Americans, that affects predominantly the Philippine literature and Philippine art is Malay’s native and Islam beliefs and the Spaniards and American’s Roman Catholicism beliefs or the catholic Christianity. For most of the writings of the Filipino writers and authors today have either a reflection or vestiges of their Islam and Malay philosophy or catholic Christian beliefs, as well as the art of their wrings and the designs of their books.

So as the Filipino media, it is not purely Filipino. It is influenced mostly by the western style of programs, shows, and music. Now, is it good to ask if Philippines is experiencing cultural crisis in media, or media hegemony?

What is hegemony?

The word hegemony can be briefly defined as “domination”. In this case, it is the domination of a people’s culture through different types of media. Nowadays, it is not surprising how Filipinos ways of thinking, believing, and behaving are so similar with the other countries. This is because those who own the original culture have a very large impact to the mass media in the Philippines.

With this situation, smaller countries are losing their identity due to the dominance of media from larger nations. It can be equated to small community shops closing down due to large superstores moving in, taking over and having a monopoly. As the larger media corporations begin to take over, smaller media companies are either being forced out or swallowed up. When the majority of media available in one country is that produced by a different, more dominant nation, it is suggested that the culture of that larger nation, along with its interests, displace that of the home country.

It is no doubt that media product from the United States has found its way across the four corners of the Earth beginning early in the last century. Films, television programs, music, and printed materials depicting and reinforcing the American way of life have been the predominant form of mass communication and have in turn influenced people from around the world in political, religious and cultural matters. In our country, even the commercials have been “Americanized” through the use of American music, songs, movie lines, and actors.

Filipinos are very good in adopting the culture of the others that it even allows the newest trend, Korean pop music or K-pop to dominate over the teenagers. We even forgot to support our own films, movies, and dramas because we blame the media industry for not being so competitive enough to make similar foreign programs. So the consequence for this is seeing the youth all over the world sharing certain common values and aspirations; wearing saggy jeans and Nike shows; interested in Hip-hop music; eating fast food by McDonalds, etc.

To be honest, I myself find the effects of media hegemony within me. During my childhood days I spend most of my time reading Philippine history and stories. But when the technology was brought inside the house, I set aside all of the books and now, spending my time watching foreign movies, Korean dramas, Japanese anime, listening to British music, and others. What about the old books? They’re just there, waiting for the time that I can open them again. It is quite sad, but with the spread of satellite television and internet, the practice of systematically spreading the influence of one culture over others by means of media becomes instant. I guess the most powerful form of dominance and dictatorship is not seen in the government, but in media.

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