How media in the Philippines report on Japan
By Leo Gatdula, Manila
The powerful earthquake that rocked Japan on March 11, 2011 is big news in the Philippines not only because of the extent of the disaster itself, but also because there are about 300,000 Filipinos in Japan.
The Philippine media have focused their coverage on the plight of Filipinos working in the richest country in Asia. Every day, Filipinos in the Philippines are provided with reports about how much some Filipinos in Japan want to return to the Philippines and how they are coping with the tragedy.
Focusing on Filipino workers in Japan
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Japan and other parts of the world send billions of dollars back home, helping keep the Philippine economy afloat. It’s one of the reasons why they’re called “modern-day heroes” in the Philippines.
Thus, an OFW-related event is bound be an emotionally charged issue in the country. Whether it’s Filipino sailors seized by Somali pirates or Filipino workers fleeing violence-torn Libya, an OFW-related event will get big-time coverage in the Philippines.
This is even more true if the OFW-related event happens in Japan, which is located only a few thousand kilometers away from the Philippines.
This proximity has also raised radiation fears in the Philippines. The Philippine media have reported on the radiation issue, from hoax text messages claiming that radiation would affect the country, to assurances from scientists that radiation would not affect the Philippines.
How prepared would the Philippines be for a similar disaster?
Since both Japan and the Philippines are completely surrounded by water, and lie on what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, a part of the world that is prone to earthquakes, questions regarding preparedness have been asked in the Philippines: How prepared is the country to deal with such a catastrophe? What is the government doing to make sure that buildings are structurally sound? Do the people know what to do during and after an earthquake?
The Philippine media have extensively covered the issue of preparedness. They have dealt with earthquake drills in schools, for example, and inspections of buildings.
Leo Gatdula, Manila, Philippines