Knowledge generation and knowledge utilization in any community: local, national or global are initiated, promoted and sustained by the information resources of the community. Information Centers provide bibliographic, indexing, clearing and referral services in addition to research, instructional and document support services. Information in specific formats/media provides news gathering, interpretation and editorial services in print, broadcast, film or special media. Information from specific providers bring to the attention of information seekers the knowledge, thoughts or ideas of key informants, subject authorities and specialists on specific topics from indigenous belief and value systems, traditions and practices to current lifestyles and trends; and information super highway projects reflect efforts to be linked with the global information system and which could promote active participation in the development programs of the global village.
In the Philippines, all line agencies (departments, bureaus, agencies), academic institutions (universities, colleges, institutes), business establishments, (engaged in the mass media or in the production of consumer goods or provision of services) function as information centers for these service institutions maintain information storage and retrieval units such as libraries, information offices, public affairs offices, and public relations officers.
There are institutions, however, that are entirely engaged in information/knowledge generation, analysis, IEC materials production and knowledge validation like the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). The PIA through its various subprograms namely: research, institutional development, production and dissemination provide development-oriented communication services.
The communication research function of the Agency is carried out by its Media Studies Division which conducts media pulsing and trending in addition to the development and publication of the Philippine Media Factbook, the Public Opinion Research Division on the other hand, regularly conducts surveys of public opinion on government programs in relation to belief and value systems, time and situation-specific needs of various sectors, communication preferences, and sectoral perceptions and motivations.
The IEC materials production units of the Agency produce multi-media information packages to promote the arts and culture, public health, economic, peace and justice, etc., all programs and services of the government. The outputs of these units include: public service announcements, documentaries, brochures, primers, films, slide tape presentations, monographs and indigenous as well as special media.
The 16 regional offices and 77 information centers in the different provinces of PIA serve as the information dissemination units of the Agency. The regular activities of the units include (1) various fora referred to as “Kapihan or Talakayan” and conducted in cooperation with the local media, local government units and cause-oriented groups, (2) distribution/dissemination of IEC materials, (3) airing of public service announcements or discussion of issues confronting specific communities, (4) preparation of provincial/regional situation reports, and (5) regular conduct of public opinion surveys.
It should be noted that all the programs of the PIA are coordinated, strengthened and enriched by the programs of other agencies of the Philippine government.
Some of the significant retrospective guides to the literature of information centers are the: UP IDRS, Union Catalog of Philippine Materials of Sixty-four Government Agency Libraries in the Philippines, 1962; NSIC Directory of Publishers/Printers of Philippine Serials, 1979; PSCC Directory of Social Scientists in the Philippines, 1982 and the current issues of Guides of Filipiniana Literature and other special collections prepared and disseminated by libraries and information centers.
Forging functional links with the global information system will definitely strengthen all efforts of the Philippine government towards the promotion of cultural identity, economic development, public health promotion, peace and order, etc.
The automation of information storage and retrieval systems in the Philippines was initiated in 1954 when IBM machines were installed at the Bureau of Lands, which also installed the first electronic digital computer, IBM 650 in 1959. Significant dates towards automation were: 1960, the Mapua Institute of Technology acquired IBM 1620; 1963, the Bureau of Customs installed FACOM 212; 1966, the Bureau of Lands started using mainframes and minicomputers; 19687, the UNIVAC installation was used for elections; 1969, the Far Eastern University acquired a B500 computer; 1970, the Cebu City Government acquired a B500 for local government applications; 1971, the ABS-CBN installed a Burrough 2500 and Executive Order 322 established the National Computer Center as the lead agency for computer development for the government sector; 1973, the National Computer Institute was established as the educational arm of the NCC; 1977, the Philippine Computer Society was born; 1978, Presidential Decree 1480 gave the National Computer Center planning, regulatory and coordinative functions; 1981, De La Salle University acquired PDP-8; 1987, the Government Organization for Information Technology was established; and 1989, Proclamation 412 declared June as Information Technology Month.
Information in Specific Formats or Media
Media forms can be divided into three major categories: they are the print media, the electronic media, and special media. Print media include newspapers: broadsheets or tabloids, comic book, novels, and monographs that deal with special subjects. Electronic media refer to modern-day media that allow a greater number of people to receive information instantaneously from long distances. Included in this category are the telephone, television, the cinema and the computer internet. Special media include all forms that cannot be classified as print, broadcast or film. Examples of special media are the indigenous form: folktales, folk songs, folk dances, puppet chorus or the modern day balloons, T-shirts, umbrellas, billboards that carry messages of various orientation. In the Philippines, the most widely used media forms are the print media and some forms of electronic media: television, radio and the cinema.
Of the print media, the most enjoyed are the broadsheets and the tabloids for these are the cheapest and most accessible to the public. To date, there are twelve major broadsheets published in Manila, eight of which enjoy national subscription. There are twenty-five tabloids, forty magazines, eighty-nine serial comic books, and ten pocketbook series. There are also nine songhits publication, five Chinese newspapers, a weekly TV guide and a weekly puzzle magazine.
Lynda Casimiro, in her article “Boom na Boom ang Tagalog Pocketbooks” (Mediawatch 1993) discussed the growing love affair between the Filipinos and the pocketbooks. She noted how these reading materials succeeded in winning a huge slice of public patronage, and how this number include representatives from all walks of life: students and out-of-school-youths, males and females, Phds and cigarette vendors, the young and the old. On the other hand, Tina B. Mauricio discussed the public’s continued support for the Pinoy Komiks (the Fascinating World of Pinoy Komiks, Mediawatch 1993), and how these materials reflect and reinforces Filipino cultural values at best. A special Mediawatch issue (August 1993) discussed the potentials and use of the popular komiks as an educational tool.
In the electronic media, the television and the radio enjoy the highest number of patronage. Every household has at least one, if not both of these communication media. The telephone is still the most needed, considering the growth of entrepreneurship in many household. Mary Ann B. Ibay discussed the strong influence of television programs, as well as movie fares on the young (Telebisyon at Pelikulang Pilipino, Mediawatch 1993). She noted that children are exposed, not only to the entertaining features these programs show, but to its language and actions as well. Worse, Mary Ann says that children tent to imitate this foul language and violent actions because of their tendency to adulate a favorite TV or movie star.
The radio is the most accessible of the electronic media. Every Filipino can own one or enjoy its services in public transportations and buildings. Aside from the newspaper, it is the most favored source of information, opinion and entertainment.
Because of the growing awareness of the overall effects of media on civil society, certain safeguards had been raised to protect the public, specially the children, from its negative influences. The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas published its guidelines on radio and television practices. The Movies and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) published its own guidelines for approving the public exhibition of programs and movies. The Advertising Board of the Philippines (ADBOARD) also published its own guidelines for print and other media advertising ethics.
Information from Specific Providers
A Specific Information Provider can be any authoritative person or institution who provide information on a given subject or issue of concern. Institutional authorities gather, process and file information on given topics which they make available to the public through a retrieval system. By this we mean that they have a data base system (i.e. bibliographic files) which aid researchers in perusing, requesting and retrieving needed materials from the data bank (i.e. hard copy of files, etc.). In the Philippines, several institutions have distinguished themselves as authorities in certain areas. The National Statistics Office provides a yearly record of their census on Philippine population, and is a good indicator of the relationship between population and resources. Social Weather Stations, much like the Marketing and Opinion Research Society of the Philippines (MORES) publish statistical ratings and opinion poll findings regarding specialized concerns. The Philippine Medical Association, and its affiliate agency reviews and publishes journals and reports regarding the latest findings, researches and trends in the field of health and medicine. The Reach Out Foundation offer information on AIDS and AIDS-related researches, as well as serve as a forum for people, not only those inflicted with the HIV but also for those whose lifestyles make them high risks of getting infected. The group GABRIELA is a feminist organization that offers information on Women’s Rights, as well as information on how women can care for and protect themselves against sexual abuse and discrimination. Certain individuals have also made a name for themselves as authorities on subjects that are of public concerns. Notable names like Che-che Lazaro of the Probe Team and Loren Legarda of the Inside Story produce and host weekly television shows that are of human interest. Jay Sonza and Mel Tiangco also host Mel and Jay, a weekly television program that deals with specific issues concerning government, morality, education and the likes. June Keithly is a noted journalist and commentator who is better known for her chronicles of people and events, specially ones that involve the religious. Nelia Sancho, a former beauty title holder is now involved in feminist organization and is a primary authority on feminist issues.
Subjects Specialists on the other hand, are individuals engaged in topical research and publication of reports or monographs on special issues and concerns of a particular sector of society. Examples of retrospective bibliographic sources are: Celia M. Antonio and Allen L. Tan’s preliminary bibliography on Philippine Cultural Minorities prepared for the Philippine Commission on Nation Integration. In the field of education, George M. Guthrie submitted a report on the “Filipino Child and Philippine Society” to the Philippine Normal College as did Annie T. Flores with her thesis “An Analysis of the Cultural Content of a Selected List of Children’s Books in the Philippines”. In the field of mass communication, Gloria D. Feliciano published a collection of essays on Philippine mass media practices under the title “Philippine Mass Media in Perspective”. Key Informants refer to individuals who serve as primary sources of information on given topics or concerns, provide raw data and materials to researchers while Information Gatekeepers are the individuals and/or institutions who regulate the release of information. Their primary interest is to protect the public from false information, as well as to prevent the outbreak of panic due to alarm caused by irresponsible release of sensitive information. Individuals who are considered Information Gatekeepers include the various editors in the print media, we have the Print Media Organization (PRIMO), the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), the Philippine Press Institute, the Manila Overseas Press Club (NPC). In the field of advertising, there are associations like the ADBOARD, the Advertising of the Philippines (CAAP), the Outdoor Advertising Association of the Philippines (OAAP), the Philippine Association of National Advertisers (PANA) and the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines (4-As).
|Daniel Santos is a consultant for projects on information and research. He is the Staff Director for Special Media at the Philippine Information Agency and is a professorial lecturer at the College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines, Diliman.|