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A Critical Discourse Analysis of the "Pagpag" documentaries of GMA, ABS-CBN, CNN, and BBC


This study analyzed four documentaries that featured a phenomenon in the Philippines known as Pagpag which refers to left over food taken from the garbage bins of fastfood restaurants. These documentaries are “Kung hei batchoy” from GMA, “Pagpag” from the ABS-CBN, “Eating Trash” from CNN, and “Toughest place to be a bus driver” from BBC. The researcher explored the themes, character roles, and tools used by the documentaries in presenting Pagpag . Using Critical Discourse Analysis guided by the theories of semiotics, post-colonialism and Sikolohiyang Pilipino, the researcher examined the representation of the Pagpag scavenger in the selected documentaries. The study found that even though there are differences in the details of the presentation of the documentaries, all the documentaries presented a stereotypical view of the Pagpag scavenger—associating the scavenger with trash and presenting a higher authority which scrutinizes the scavenger’s actions. The tools as used by the documentaries further highlights this stereotype as the close-ups and the higher angle shots relegate the scavenger into a powerless individual and someone to be pitied. For future studies, the researcher recommends an audience research study and/or an ethnographic approach towards the study of the Pagpag in order to gain a deeper understanding of Pagpag and the Pagpag scavengers.

Keywords: documentary, post-colonial, poverty, stigma, representation, Pagpag

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