The Tribe has Spoken


The study aims to explore how the narrative, themes, character presentation and relationships present in the reality TV show Survivor Philippines: Celebrity Showdown challenges its Filipino audiences’ perception of their cultural identity based on the concept of kapwa. Enriquez’ Sikolohiyang Pilipino, Hall’s Cultural Studies and Genre Theory were used as framework for the study. Enriquez’ Sikolohiyang Pilipino was used to provide basis for the existing cultural identity of the Filipinos, which, through Cultural Studies and Genre Theory, the study tries to argue, is being challenged by the reality show Survivor Philippines: Celebrity Showdown. To fulfill its objectives, the researcher performed textual analysis of the complete reality show season, focusing on the themes, conflicts, character presentation of contestants, interactions and relationships of the contestants within the tribe. Meanwhile, audience perception of their cultural identity was determined through five focus interviews conducted among selected respondents.

The researcher found out that the concept of kapwa is indeed deeply-rooted in the identity and consciousness of the respondents. The main thrust, themes, character presentation and construction of reality in the show Survivor Philippines: Celebrity Showdown challenged the cultural concept of kapwa in the broadcast text; however this did not transcend into the audiences’ consciousness. The audience tolerated the adjustments in the meaning of kapwa within the context of the reality show, but their original notion of it, as applied in their real lives, has been maintained. Therefore, the researcher concludes that the reality show Survivor Philippines: Celebrity Showdown did challenge the concept of kapwa in the broadcast text, but did not influence the Filipino audiences’ cultural identity.

For future studies, the researcher recommends using Stuart Hall’s Encoding/Decoding theory in order to more intricately describe the communication process of embedding the meanings in the text, relaying it to the audience and interpreting these meanings, and Cultivation Theory to find out if longer exposure to the television program would influence audience’s perception of reality. Also, an institutional perspective would give a better understanding of how the production process of the reality show affects construction of meaning and reality. The study calls for more responsibility on the part of media institutions and practitioners regarding the television shows they produce and/or franchise due to the immense influences such shows may have on their audience, and also aims to develop awareness and critical thinking among the audience when viewing such programs.

Relucio, R. (2011). The Tribe Has Spoken: Challenging Audiences’ Perception of Filipino Cultural Identity Based on the Concept of “Kapwa” as seen in the Reality TV Show Survivor Philippines: Celebrity Showdown, Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines Diliman at Quezon City.

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Subject Index : Reality television programs--Philippines, Survivor, Group identity--Philippines