Finders, Keepers: Analysing Audience Perceptions of Heritage Stewardship in Philippine Popular Media

Archaeological Studies Program, University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines

While the utility of mass media – television, in particular – as an educational tool is well-recognized, stereotypical and alternative representations of archaeological themes and ideas in popular culture continue to present a challenge. This is especially true for programs that highlight the commercial value of unearthed cultural properties rather than their archaeological significance. Fears that such representations might directly contribute to treasure hunting and looting of sites are evident in the literature. In the Philippines, popular representations of archaeology in local media have not been extensively studied yet – more so how these depictions shape or reinforce alternative ideas about the valuation and stewardship of cultural properties. This paper attempts to fill this research gap by analysing public reactions elicited by the “Fossils for Sale” segment of Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho (One at Heart, Jessica Soho), a highly rated, weekly news-magazine television program. This study is a starting point for developing a better understanding of the public’s understanding and perceptions of Philippine archaeology, and the perceptions they hold about the value of cultural heritage.