A Focus On... Phillipines


Population: 95,849,000
Monetary unit: piso (Piso in Filipino; peso in English and Spanish)
Capital city: Manila
Major languages: Filipino; English
Major religions: Roman Catholic 64.9%; independent Christian 17.7%7; Muslim 5.1%; Protestant 5.0%; traditional beliefs 2.2%; other 5.1%.
Ethnic composition: Tagalog 20.9%; Visayan (Cebu) 19.0%; Ilocano 11.1%; Hiligaynon (Visaya) 9.4%; Waray-Waray (Binisaya) 4.7%; Central Bikol (Naga) 4.6%; Filipino mestizo 3.5%; Pampango 3.1%; other 23.7%.
Age breakdown: under 15, 35.6%; 15–29, 28.4%; 30–44, 18.8%; 45–59, 11.2%; 60–74, 4.9%; 75–84, 1.0%; 85 and over, 0.1%.
Life expectancy: male 70.0 years; female 74.0 years
Education: Percentage of population age 25 and over having: no formal schooling 3.8%; primary education 38.5%; incomplete secondary 12.5%; complete secondary 17.2%; technical 5.9%; incomplete undergraduate 11.8%; complete undergraduate 7.3%; graduate 0.7%; unknown 2.3%.
Urban/Rural split: urban 48.7%; rural 51.3%.
Income per household (USD): -
Broadband internet users (%): -

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica


The Philippines, home to 7,100 islands and 95 million Filipinos, is one of the world's major markets. It is also one that is rapidly getting to grips with PR. “There is higher awareness of public relations today,” says Rochelle Gamboa Hilario, marketing and communications manager of Philex Mining Corporation, the country's largest mining company.

For those in the extractive industry PR is predominantly about the firm's social responsibility. “We have learned lessons from Enron and BP,” says Hilario. “It is no longer enough to simply manufacture, market and measure. Now more than ever, mining and oil companies need to win public trust and acceptance.” 

For example, Philex has run the ‘This Mine Is Yours' campaign to transform the reputation of a gold and copper mining project in Zamboanga del Norte. It ran mine tours for national and local press and academics, radio roadshows, mining forums in the region, and publicity tours with the media. The result is that the media are now much more willing to listen to the company's position on the mining project.However, she believes this is also an issue for those in other sectors. “FMCGs have to show they care for the holistic wellness of their customers, the environment and the communities. Banks need to keep their customers happy. Politicians need to win and sustain public trust.”

As a result industry observers point to mounting professionalism within the Philippine PR industry. Both the Public Relations Society of the Philippines and the Philippine chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators are actively developing the PR industry by promoting the best campaigns, tools and leaders primarily through annual awards ceremonies.


Edwin Hernandez, president and general manager at Jardine Distribution, says: “One of the primary strengths of our PR industry is our healthy media environment both in traditional print and broadcast, and in the new social media.”

On television, the main battle for viewers is between network giants ABS-CBN of the Lopez family and GMA7. Third spot is held by relative newcomer, TV5 which is owned by Manny Pangilinan of the Metro Pacific group.

For radio, the top radio stations for news and public affairs are DZMM, which is owned by the ABS-CBN group, DZBB, which is owned by the GMA network, and DZRH.

In print, the top three dailies are Manila Bulletin, Philippine Star and Philippine Daily Inquirer, with Bulletin claiming the highest circulation and readership. In terms of business dailies the Business Mirror has overtaken the Business World and Malaya Business Insight.

Important lifestyle magazines include People Asia, Travel Life, and Lifestyle Asia. In motoring and sports Top Gear and C Magazine are worthy of mention, as are the Philippine editions of FHM, and Cosmopolitan. The only significant business magazine is Entrepreneur.

Major Brands

While all the most global brands are present in this important market there are many Philippine brands which have been making good progress on their PR in recent years. As well as the mining

companies already mentioned, the budget airlines like Cebu PacificD Airphil Express and Zest Air have been investing heavily not only in advertising but also in publicity and social media.


Myla Pilao, director of core technology marketing at TrendLabs, says: “There's a growing appreciation of the need to partner with a credible agency, not only so they can help you build your brand, but also so they can act as an unbiased pair of eyes and ears in your marketplace.”

She continues: “Our agency, Weber Shandwick, constantly updates us on what's coming up in

the our industry and what our competitors are doing, and we adjust our communication plan accordingly. The agency has also taken an active role by creatively challenging our plans and bringing us back to reality to focus on what we can realistically achieve.”

In terms of the global groups, Weber Shandwick is highly visible in the Philippines, as are

Fleishman-Hillard and Ogilvy. Edelman operates through affiliate EON, and Euro RSCG/Agatep is strong on advocacy.

Local agencies such as Full Circle for issues management and crisis communication, and Stratworks for branding, remain important players in this growing market.

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