Last week, one of my PR professors, Tiffany Gallicano, lent me a book called International Public Relations: A Comparative Analysis by Hugh M. Culbertson and Ni Chen. We were both really excited when we noticed that chapter 10 is about PR in the Philippines. See, I was born in the Philippines and I lived there until I was 12. It’s my home.
Because the Philippines means so much to me, I decided to write a brief summary of PR in the Philippines, using the information from this book and my own knowledge of this particular country. Let’s begin with the history of Philippine PR…
The History of Philippine PR
Many Philippine PR practitioners trace their roots back to the 1880s, when the Philippines was seeking colonial reforms from Spain. (Spain colonized the Philippines from 1565-1898.) The writers and activists at the time, including Jose Rizal, who is now considered our foremost national hero, wrote influential works that triggered the Philippine Revolution. According to Culbertson and Chen, this Revolution is widely known as the first successful challenge by an Asian people against their Western colonial masters.
But the PR industry didn’t blossom in the Philippine archipelago until after Manila (the capital) was liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945. With the return of the Philippine press, and the sudden success of business pages and business sections, several firms were prompted to assign people to handle press relations, and, later, full-fledged PR.
It was a man named Jose A. Carpio who really developed the theory of PR in the Philippines. Carpio, now known as the Father of Philippine PR, saw PR as far more than publicity. He saw it as a planned program of policies and behavior designed to build public confidence in and understanding of an individual or an organization. In 1957, Carpio founded the Public Relations Society of the Philippines. The PRSP would soon singlehandedly spur the growth of Philippine PR through seminars, training programs, workshops, awards, contacts, publications and networking. The organization also introduced a four-year PR curriculum, which was approved by the Ministry of Education and Culture, to several Philippine universities.
PR in Philippine Government
PR has become a very important part of Philippine government. Filipino PR practitioners understand that strategic government PR creates awareness and generates acceptance of public policies and programs. It also projects an image of good, legitimate governance.
But PR has never been more prominent in Philippine history than during the Marcos years (1965-1986). From the time martial law was declared in 1972 until Marcos’s presidency was forcibly ended in 1986, the government put on a massive and sustained propaganda campaign, locally and worldwide. The emphasis was on ensuring sustained U.S. government and military support.
The success of this campaign was due to Marcos’s well-funded nationwide media structure. The two succeeding governments of Presidents Aquino and Ramos maintained the “monolithic government media and information system” (Culbertson and Chen, 1996). Today, three broadcast networks and a newspaper chain still remain under government control.
The Philippine Anvil Awards
Like the Public Relations Society of America, the PRSP hosts annual Anvil Awards, an awards ceremony that recognizes outstanding programs, projects and PR techniques. The ceremony, according to Culbertson and Chen, is known as the “Oscars of Public Relations.” A campaign to save the Philippine eagle won the coveted Grand Award in 1993.
Culbertson and Chen’s Summary of Philippine PR
According to Culbertson and Chen, PR is a concept from the West that has been transplanted to Asia. But Philippine PR has drawn its sustenance from its own soil. Philippine PR practitioners have been faithful to their culture, making PR in the Philippines relevant to Filipinos — especially when the government is involved. Culbertson and Chen say that Philippine PR is self-propelled, dynamic and professional.
My Thoughts on Philippine PR
The Philippines is a developing country. Developing countries need hope. As a profession, PR can popularize and crystallize ideologies so that people in developing countries can unite and share common values — and work towards progress and development. The mass media in a developing country like the Philippines, then, need PR practitioners to produce messages and images that inspire, energize and mobilize people toward development. So far, the Philippines has demonstrated that its PR industry is strong and dynamic. Nevertheless, there’s still room for improvement in Philippine PR if the country wants to join the ranks of developed nations. With PR growing as an industry, both in the Philippines and worldwide, I have high hopes for the Philippines. And who knows…maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to go back home and take part in the Philippines’ successful PR industry.