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There was a time when radio was king. When I was growing up in Tondo, I remember there were times when we would gather around the radio listening to the news, to music, and of course, sa mga radio dramas na ating sinusubaybayan. Decades before the teleseryes and telenovelas, radio drama shows ruled the airwaves. In other words, radio was the primary source of information and entertainment back in the day. It was accessible and far-reaching.


Not anymore. Television has long dislodged radio in this regard. Families would gather in front of their colored TVs to watch their favorite shows. Today, of course, we already have Netflix, Youtube and other streaming platforms but TV is still the top source of news and entertainment for most Filipinos.


A September 2021 survey by Pulse Asia, for instance, reported that “91 percent of the country’s adult population say they get their political news from television.” Radio is in second place as 49 percent of Filipinos use it as their source of news. This means that if you are someone who needs to get information to the most number of people, you have got to utilize TV. This includes marketing people, government, businesses in general, and, as we are right smack in the middle of an election campaign, politicians.


I also found it interesting that in the same survey, we can see the emergence of social media platforms and other online mediums as information sources. The survey reported that 48 percent of Filipinos — almost the same as radio — get their news about the Philippine government and politics from the internet. In particular, 44 percent use Facebook as their news source. I think it is just a matter of time before online platforms compete with TV as a source of information. With the smartphone becoming more accessible and hopefully, as internet connectivity improves over time, we should see Facebook and other platforms increase their influence.


This is the reason why there are a lot of scammers and agents of disinformation roaming the online world. So many people are making decisions based on what they read on their feed that those who want to spread false information can easily do so. The election campaign is the perfect example of this as candidates flood the online world with propaganda, and unfortunately, black propaganda too.


I was also surprised to find out that around 37 percent of Filipinos still rely on “family and/or relatives as their news source” while 25 percent cite friends and/or acquaintances. I think this demonstrates the Filipinos’ strong family ties despite all the economic, technological and cultural changes that have taken place. I like the fact that people still sit down with their family and friends to discuss issues. The only difference is that before we used to do it while having dinner at home, now we do it at a restaurant or a coffee shop.


The newspaper has, sadly, become a victim of all these advancements in information technology with only three percent of Filipino adults citing it as their source of information. This is sad because I still read the papers in the morning with my coffee. It is a morning ritual for me and perhaps to others of a generation dominated by the papers. Despite the popularity of online news sites, I still prefer reading the paper, smelling the newsprint, and hearing the rustling of the paper as I turn to another page. Well, to each his own.


The point that I want to make is this — now more than ever, we need to have access to reliable information as we make important decisions in our lives. The emergence of online and social media platforms only means that we have more options in terms of where to get the information. Remember false prophets roamed the streets of ancient times too. There will always be prophets of false information whether on radio, TV or Facebook. The important thing is we should always be discerning. Do not believe anything you hear, see, or hear until you have all the facts before you.



Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar