Spreading support through media in the Philippines


Photo Courtesy of ABS-CBN Entertainment

Hannah Lorenzo, Copy Chief

As a Filipino in the US, I sympathize towards those who are suffering from COVID-19 in both countries. It has also been difficult because although my loved ones are close by, I have been worrying about my family in the Philippines as the distance between us seems to grow larger each day. Regardless, it has been a comfort to witness these countries bringing a little bit of hope into people’s lives in their own way, and coming from a family of immigrants, I realize that hope needs to be more widespread than the virus itself. 

With the media in particular, there have been much needed improvements in how the public is perceiving the crisis we are facing nowadays. From personal messages from celebrities to advertisements supporting local businesses, the US has gotten into better shape when it comes to encouraging the public to continue communicating and staying positive. Similar to that, the Philippines has focused on bringing a positive image to their smaller population by utilizing their skills in the media. Personally, my family watches Filipino channels, TFC and GMA, every day, so I have gained access to the news regarding what is happening in the Philippines, specifically with COVID-19.

And I have to say, I am thoroughly impressed in how they are handling the situation. Even though the Philippines’ number of cases has only reached the thousands, whereas here in the US the number has reached one million, the devastating effects are felt everywhere, especially in a country that is poor compared to the US in financial aid and medical needs. I have noticed that their media programs counteract these kinds of effects through every crisis, whether it be another earthquake or the threat of the Taal Volcano eruption. 

Normally, the recurring theme in the Philippines is the significance of family, which is then followed by a song that is played constantly to share their familial love. The actors and singers that are well known in the Philippines and are producing recent shows participate in music videos to add to that sense of togetherness that the channels want to inspire their viewers to also maintain in their own lives. What’s interesting now is that because of COVID-19, social distancing and life threatening situations have prevented the opportunity to create their yearly traditions that spread hope, but surprisingly, that did not stop them. 

From ABS-CBN Star Music, a song called “Pag-Ibig Ang Hihilom Sa Daigdig”, or “Love Can Heal the World”, sung by Lloyd Corpuz, Raizo Chabeldin, and Biv de Vera, was released on April 9 that contradicts the horrifying reality that many face today. Instead, through the use of videos made at home and documentation of the healthcare workers, the Philippines brought their take on family to a whole new level during the crisis. After a busy day of studying, I have grown fond of the fact that whenever I can relax, this song portrays the support of Filipinos as it shares videos of ordinary people all over the world singing their hearts out at home, risking their lives at the hospitals, and even making colorful posters to add some lightheartedness. Despite the fact that ABS-CBN recently faced a shutdown due to a contract expiration, they remain a source online to continue spreading news and interacting with the public. And still, they are the definition of what the song expresses: “Don’t spread the hate and scare; spread never ending love and care”. 

Not to mention, the Filipino channels do a successful job at showing their gratitude towards the healthcare workers and OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers). Those in the medical profession gain a lot of attention in the Philippines as the amount of hospitals are not as great as in the US, but their importance remains the same, but despite overcrowding and few supplies, these workers fight 24/7 to help people, and in a crisis, they are considered heroes in shows such as “Maalaala Mo Kaya” (“Would You Remember”) on TFC, where stories such as these are recreated by actors to highlight them as symbols of one’s strength in a struggling world. 

OFWs, as well, have a huge role to play as families are broken apart by the need for parents and siblings to travel to the US or other countries to find work in order to improve the economic status of their families. These stories are very well known in the Philippines and are even shared publicly on television through interviews and features on the news to honor those who suffer from homesickness and are financially unstable. Especially now, since businesses are forced to shut down and the economy is dwindling, OFWs are the true source of the country’s ability to stand up again after a plethora of problems. 

The Philippines is just one of the countries that COVID-19 has invaded, but in my opinion, they emphasize the need to continue the act of supporting one another no matter where we are, either at home, work, or even in the streets. This one example should remind us that we may be stuck at home, but that does not mean we have to close our hearts, too. Any means of sharing our thoughts and hopes is a way to minimize the extent of how COVID-19 affects us, and after looking at the Philippines, I think the world should follow suit.