Pre-colonial Traces of Philippine Media

Like the early ancestors of humankind, our ancestors also developed a system of communication and information dissemination. When there is a system of oral communication, it follows that a system of written communication also existed.

From our historians, we learned that the existence of a language system in the pre-colonial Philippines was already in place in the form of the written word. The most notable discovery of which is the ancient alphabet called alibata or baybayin whose form was similar to the image-based types of characters of our Asian neighbors. As with the other tribal discoveries of other regions, ancient Filipinos also used materials existing in their environment to jot down and record their experiences and transactions using such a language system. However, oral systems of handing down information, literary creations such as folk tales and epics, as well as family histories were also predominant in various areas of our developing multi-language archipelago.

Perhaps the closest to having a broadcast system of information dissemination in ancient times could be traced to the existence of the umalohokan or the town crier. The town crier’s major role was to go around the barangay or their small towns and announce important information that concerns the citizenry. In other historical accounts, the umalohokan was actually a person needed to settle arguments within the barangay. The barangay head or the datu would actually call for special elections to place someone as the umalohokan to help settle a certain dispute. When the argument was settled, the umalohokan’s “term of office” also ends. Thus, it is no wonder that today’s media would also have this kind of balancing function wherein two opposing sides of an issue would be featured.