Imaging the Indigenous in Philippine Environmental Documentaries

By Jason Paolo Telles.

Published by Journal of Communication and Media Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Various mass media products, even those that are expected to disseminate reality, have become sources of imageries and imaginaries of various groups, ethnicities, genders, and cultures. Environmental documentaries, which supposedly hold contents that are based on accurate information, still hold portrayals or representations that are forged by ideologies and social structures dominating the society from which they are produced. Employing a postcolonial framework, this paper discusses the portrayal of indigenous peoples in Philippine environmental documentaries, specifically in GMA Network’s "Oras Na" (It is Time), "Planet Philippines," "Wildlife for Sale," and "Signos" (Signs). Through an analysis on the documentaries’ music, sound effects, narratives, visual elements, and mise-en-scene, it has been found that indigenous peoples are portrayed as exotic, intellectually infant, backward, impoverished, and primitive–stereotypes that have long been propagated by Philippine mainstream television. In relation to their role in the environment, indigenous peoples are portrayed as accessories to destruction and as people who are in need of a messiah from the urban center who will save or guide them. Overall, “othering” is still prevalent in the environmental documentaries.

Keywords: Indigenous Peoples, Media Ecocriticism, Documentary

The Journal of Communication and Media Studies, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.25-43. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.100MB).

Jason Paolo Telles

Graduate Student, Department of Broadcast Communication, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines

Jason Paolo Telles is a Graduate Student in the MA Media Studies (Broadcast) program at the University of the Philippines in Diliman. His research interests are media history, media ecocriticism, and media linguistics.