Imaging the Indigenous in Philippine Environmental Documentaries

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Abstract

Various mass media products, even those that are expected to disseminate reality, have become sources of images and imaginaries of various groups, ethnicities, genders, and cultures. Environmental documentaries, which are supposedly based on accurate information, still use portrayals or representations that were forged by ideologies and social structures dominating the society in 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 “Signos,” “Planet Philippines,” “Wildlife for Sale,” and “Oras Na.” Through a textual analysis on the documentaries’ narratives, visual elements, and “mise-en-scène,” it has been found that indigenous peoples have been portrayed according to the colonial tropes of infantilization, animalization, and poverty. Overall, “othering” is still prevalent in these environmental documentaries.