Censorship
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The Philippines πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­ is an Asian country which mostly practices Christianity. It was a Spanish colony, being the only former Spanish colony in Southeast Asia. There was a lot of censorship during Ferdinand Marcos' Martial Law regime, known also as Bagong Lipunan (New Society) (1972-1986).

General censorship[]

Censorship in the Philippines is somewhat a mix of those influenced by the Roman Catholic Church and the United States.

Due to the influence of conservative Christian groups, such as the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and churches, mainly the Roman Catholic Church, among other institutions, any kind of pornography is banned in the country.

Although predominantly Filipino-speaking, the Philippines was the strictest country in the English-speaking world (ranked above Singapore) in terms of censorship during the dictatorship era of Ferdinand Marcos. Following the EDSA Revolution, which led to the election of Corazon Aquino as president, it has since been taken place by Australia.

Book censorship[]

  • During the Spanish rule, two novels written by JosΓ© Rizal, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo were refused publication by the colonial authorities, since both novels spoke about the nationwide corruption in the government and in the Church. After the Spanish occupation, these once-banned novels are now studied in many Filipino high schools and colleges.
  • The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos - this non-fiction book by Primitivo Mijares was banned during the Martial Law period due to being critical of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos.
  • The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos - this biographical book by Carmen Navarro Pedrosa, was banned in 1972, shortly after the start of the Martial Law period under President Ferdinand Marcos. The "unauthorized" biography was banned for the depiction of First Lady Imelda Marcos' extravagance.

Internet censorship[]

  • Pursuant to Republic Act No. 9775, Pornhub, XHamster, Redtube and XVideos were blocked in 2017 by the government, for allegations of these sites having child pornography (despite these sites having policies against it). The fact that the Philippines is said to be the 15th most frequent porn watchers in the world might have something to do with it. Though this is only applied to certain internet service providers such as PLDT. So, if you're using other internet service providers such as Globe or having a VPN installed, these sites still will be viewed.
  • XVideos is fully banned there, regardless of provider, just showing a page that says that the site is banned for having child porn (despite no such thing being present, as the site clearly has policies prohibiting it).
  • File hosting site MEGA was also blocked on at least some ISPs, again citing child pornography as reason. Accessing the site through its IP address on certain providers, one of them being Converge, would instead show a legal notice citing Republic Act No. 9775, the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, which is the law criminalizing the possession and distribution of underage pornography. While there have been incidents of illegal pornography being uploaded, this also came at the cost of legitimate, law-abiding users being barred from accessing their safe-for-work projects.

Movie censorship[]

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, a special agency of the Office of the President which gives age ratings to movies.

As of 2012, the Board uses six classification ratings.

Rating Name Description
Philippines G Rating G (General Audiences) Viewers of all ages are admitted. A "G" classification advises parents or supervising adults that the film is suitable for all audiences. A film classified as "G" shall, in the judgment of the Board, meet the following criteria:
  1. Theme – The film should not contain violence, threat, abuse, horror, or other themes that may cause fear or disturbance to a young child's mind.
  2. Language – The film may contain dialogue or other word representations beyond courteous language, but menacing, profane, offensive, and sexually-suggestive language or gestures shall not be allowed.
  3. Nudity – The film may contain occasional, as well as natural non-sexual nudity.
  4. Sex – The film cannot contain and depict sexual activity.
  5. Violence – The depiction of any violence must be mild, brief, infrequent, and unlikely to cause undue anxiety or fear to young children.
  6. Horror – The depiction of horror and frightening scenes should be mild, brief, infrequent, and unlikely to cause undue anxiety or fear to young children.
  7. Drugs – There shall be no depiction of, or reference to, prohibited drugs or their use.
Philippines PG Rating PG (Parental Guidance) Viewers below 13 years old must be accompanied by a parent or supervising adult. A "PG" classification advises parents or supervising adults that the film may contain any of the elements whose treatment is suitable for children below 13 years of age. A film classified as "PG" shall, in the judgment of the Board, meet the following criteria:
  1. Theme – The film may contain themes that require parental supervision and guidance, but should not promote any dangerous, violent, discriminatory, or otherwise offensive behavior or attitude.
  2. Language – The film may contain mild and infrequent swear words and menacing language. Offensive, menacing, threatening language and references to sex shall always be suitable for viewers who are below 13 years of age. Infrequent, brief and justifiable sexually-suggestive language may be allowed.
  3. Nudity – The film may contain occasional, as well as natural non-sexual nudity.
  4. Sex – The depiction of non-graphic sexual activity may be allowed, but it should be discreet, infrequent, and not prolonged.
  5. Violence – The depiction of non-gratuitous violence and suffering should be minimal, and without graphic detail.
  6. Horror – The depiction of brief and infrequent horror and frightening scenes shall be allowed.
  7. Drugs – There shall be no depiction of, or reference to, prohibited drugs or substances and their use.
Philippines R13 Rating R-13 (Restricted-13) Only viewers who are 13 years old and above can be admitted. An "R-13" classification advises parents, supervising adults, or the film may contain any of the elements that may not be suitable for children below 13 years of age. A film classified as "R-13" must, in the judgment of the Board, meet the following criteria:
  1. Theme – The film may contain mature themes but is suitable for teenagers above 13 years of age, and shall not gratuitously promote or encourage any dangerous, violent, discriminatory, or otherwise offensive behavior or attitude.
  2. Language – The film may contain moderate swear words and menacing language consistent with the context of the scene in which they are employed. The use of infrequent and non-vulgar strong swear words or sexually-derived or suggestive expletives and expressions as well as the use of swear words and expletives shall be allowed. The use of sexually-oriented or suggestive language and other references to sex shall always be suitable for viewers who are at least 13 years of age.
  3. Nudity – The film may contain brief, discreet and justifiable occasional, natural and sexually-oriented nudity.
  4. Sex – Discreet, infrequent, brief, non-graphic and justifiable sexual activity may be depicted.
  5. Violence – Infrequent, non-gratuitous, non-graphic and justifiable violence may be allowed.
  6. Horror – The justifiable depiction of horror, frightening scenes, and occasional gore are allowed.
  7. Drugs – The movie shall not in any case promote, condone, justify and/or encourage drug use.
Philippines R16 Rating R-16 (Restricted-16) Only viewers who are 16 years old and above can be admitted. An "R-16" classification advises parents and supervising adults that the film may contain any of the elements that may not be suitable for children below 16 years of age. A film classified as "R-16" must, in the judgment of the Board, meet the following criteria:
  1. Theme – There are no restrictions on themes; provided that the treatment is appropriate for viewers who are at least 16 years of age.
  2. Language – The film may use any kind of language.
  3. Nudity – The film may contain discreet, non-gratuitous and justifiable natural and sexually-oriented nudity.
  4. Sex – Non-graphic, non-gratuitous and justifiable sexual activity may be depicted.
  5. Violence – Non-gratuitous and justifiable violence and gore may be allowed.
  6. Horror – The non-gratuitous and justifiable depiction of horror, frightening scenes, and gore are allowed.
  7. Drugs – The non-gratuitous and justifiable depiction of drugs or their use may be allowed. The movie shall not in any case promote, condone, and encourage drug use.
Philippines R18 Rating R-18 (Restricted-18) Only viewers who are 18 years old and above can be admitted. An "R-18" classification advises viewers, parents, and supervising adults that the film may contain any of the elements that may not be suitable for children below 18 years of age. SM Cinema does not show films in their cinemas classified by this rating. An "R-18" rating does not mean that the film is "obscene", "offensive", or "pornographic," as these terms are defined by law. A film classified as "R-18" must, in the judgment of the Board, meet the following criteria:
  1. Theme – There are no restrictions on themes and their treatment.
  2. Language – The film may use any kind of justifiable language.
  3. Nudity – The film may contain non-gratuitous and justifiable sexually-oriented nudity.
  4. Sex – The realistic depiction of non-gratuitous and justifiable sexual activity may be allowed.
  5. Violence – There are no restrictions on the depiction of non-gratuitous and justifiable violence.
  6. Horror – The justifiable depiction of horror, frightening scenes, and gore are allowed.
  7. Drugs – The justifiable depiction of drugs or their use may be allowed. In no case, however, should the use of drugs be promoted, condoned, justified and/or encouraged.
 X  X (Not For Public Exhibition) "X-rated" films are not suitable for public exhibition. A film shall be disapproved for public viewing if, in the judgment of the Board:
  1. The average person, applying contemporary community standards and values, would find that the dominant theme of the work, taken as a whole appeals solely to the prurient interest and satisfies only the craving for gratuitous sex and/or violence.
  2. The film depicts in a patently lewd, offensive, or demeaning manner, excretory functions and sexual conduct such as sexual intercourse, masturbation and exhibition of the genitals.
  3. The film clearly constitutes an attack against any race, creed, or religion.
  4. The film condones or encourages abuse and exploitation against women and/or children.
  5. The film promotes or endorses the use of illegal drugs and substances.
  6. The film tends to undermine the faith and confidence of the people in their government and/or duly-constituted authorities.
  7. The film glorifies criminals or condones crimes.
  8. The film may constitute contempt of court or of a quasi-judicial tribunal, or may pertain to matters which are subjudicial in nature.

Use of movie ratings in television[]

Celestial Movies Pinoy uses an advisory for these movie ratings before showing of the film in lieu of television ratings.

Instances of movie censorship[]

  • Allegedly, at one point, any film starring Claire Danes was banned after some comments she did in Variety while she was promoting Brokedown Palace (filmed in the Philippines), where she described Manila as a "ghastly" place due to its pollution and high poverty rate, which the government deemed insensitive and got her banned from the country. This has yet to be confirmed.
  • Cannibal Holocaust - this film was banned due to extreme violence and animal cruelty, which did not stop bootleg copies from proliferating.
  • Batang Tulisan - banned for depicting a priest in a villainous role as well for depicting the use of a hypodermic syringe as a murder tool.
  • Chapayev - banned for promoting Communist ideology.
  • Iginuhit ng Tadhana - this movie was banned during presidency of Diosdado Macapagal due to featuring his main political opponent, the then-Senator Ferdinand Marcos.
  • Hubad na Bayani - this film which was released during Martial Law and showed the human rights violations committed by the Marcos regime was banned by President Ferdinand Marcos from showing theatrically, which led to the creation of the Oblation Run (a form of naked protest).
  • The Last Temptation of Christ - not shown in the country due to protests from fundamentalist Christian groups for the same reasons above, specially with the relation between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Though, unlike The Da Vinci Code, no copy of this film can be found in any video store and its bootleg copies are pretty rare.
  • Dear Uncle Sam - this film was banned for criticism towards the American military presence in the Philippines. in 1989 (when the film was released), the Americans maintained military bases in Clark and in Subic.
  • Orapronobis (Fight for Us) - banned by President Corazon Aquino for its subversive message regarding her oppressive new government following the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
  • Butakat: Sugapa sa Laman - The MTRCB ordered a ban on this film loosely based on the Chiong murder case, after an appeal by the Chiong family to the then-president Joseph Estrada and the filing of an injunction which led the MTRCB to reverse its initial permit for release with an R-rating. This led to a protracted legal case after the film's director, Federico Natividad, sued the MTRCB for not returning the film's master copy when it ordered its seizure as part of an administrative review, which was finally resolved in 2007 in favour of Natividad by the Supreme Court, which nevertheless upheld the ban on the film's showing.
  • Schindler's List was initially banned for scenes involving humping and nudity which were considered by the Movie and Television Review Classification Board as "pornographic". In 1994, the ban was lifted due to the historical merits of the film.
  • The Piano was briefly banned for a year until the ban was rescinded in 1994.
  • Natural Born Killers - this film was banned due to its extreme violence and gruesome imagery.
  • The Bridges of Madison County was given a "X" rating due to a partial nudity scene involving lead actress Meryl Streep. The MTRCB stated that it could rerate the film if the scene was cut from the film for screening in the country.
  • Live Show - this film had its MTRCB permission rescinded by president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2001 due to the lobbying from Cardinal Jaime Sin and other Catholic leaders for the film being banned, as the movie tackled the issue of the plight of young Filipino boys and girls resorting to featuring in sex shows in Manila as a means of livelihood.
  • Imelda - this biopic about Imelda Marcos, wife of president Ferdinand Marcos, was banned after she filed a lawsuit.
  • Ang Mabuhay para sa Masa - this film, directed, produced and starring former President Joseph Estrada during his detention for one of his several plunder cases, was banned for challenging the rule of President Arroyo, who succeeded him after he was ousted in the second EDSA Revolution, as well for implying that the Catholic Church cooperated with prominent business leaders to depose Estrada. The MTRCB banned the film on the grounds of "libelous and false content".
  • Aurora was given a "double X" rating due to an alleged rape scene. The producers applied to make the film being rated R-18 due to it being geared towards an adult public.
  • BrΓΌno - This mockumentary by Sasha Baron Cohen was banned for homosexual obscenity before being lifted and heavily cut by the censor board in order to be rated as R-18.
  • ABS-CBN AmBisyon series had two of its short films censored in the country:
    • Ganito tayo ngayon, Paano na tayo bukas? - this short film was rated "X" because it depicted a January 2010 newspaper issue, which featured the economic achievements of then-president Arroyo, from the time of its delivery to a homeowner to the time it was used to wipe off feces from a foot of a cart-pushing vendor.
    • Ayos Ka? - this short film, which is a music video which featured a hopeful soundtrack juxtaposed with imagery of poverty, illegal drug use, prostitution, and murder was rated as "X" due to being "injurious to the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines and its people.", according to the censors.
  • Innocence of Muslims - this independent film was banned after a ruling of the Supreme Court after it caused a widespread protest from Muslims for portraying in negative light the life of the prophet Muhammad (In the island of Mindanao, which is in the south of the Philippines, there is a Muslim population).
  • The Da Vinci Code - Some conservative Catholic groups tried to ban this film in 2006. The film just got a R-18 from the government. SM Supermalls, the largest chain of shopping malls in the country, forbade every of its theaters to show the film to comply to their policy of not screening R-18 films. The movie was banned in the capital Manila, but it was shown in other cities. The DVD and Blu-ray versions are still available.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey - this film was not shown in some cities in the Philippines due to SM's policy of not showing R-18 films, which did not stop the movie from being a box office hit and being illegally downloaded on the internet.
  • Abominable - This film was taken out the theaters due to a scene featuring the map of the South China Sea with the Nine-Dash-Line and the islands of Visayas and Mindanao missing. Since the Philippines won the international arbitration against China in 2016, which declared the Nine-Dash-Line claim as invalid, it is comprehensible why this movie was not shown there.
  • Metamorphosis - this Cinema One Originals entry which features intersex people, was rated as "X" due to a "masturbation" scene and exposal of genitals. The MTRCB reviewed the film again by another set of people, reclassifying it as R-16 film considering the whole context of the film. No re-edits or cut were made on the film.
  • The Shining - this film was rated X after its initial release in 1980. However, it was lifted and changed to R-16 to endure the audiences in 2018.
  • Paglaki Ko, Gusto Kong Maging Pornstar - On 14 January 2021, this comedy drama film was rated X by the MTRCB due to sexual content and indecent language, deeming it unfit for public viewing.*Plane - this film was lambasted by Senator Robin Padilla who called for the ban of the film, a sentiment shared by both Senate President MIguel Zubiri and Senator Ronald dela Rosa. Though the Directors' Guild of the Philippines (DGIP) was opposed o the proposed ban due to being an overreaction to a mindless B-movie and it was up ot viewers either to watch it or ignore it.[1] To summarise, the premise is about a commercial airliner crashing into the island of Jolo, depicted as a lawless island run by militias and insurgents, and both the Philippine government and military are too terrified of even sending help (the latter having apparently withdrew from the island beforehand),forcing Scarsdale to hire mercenaries to initiate search-and-rescue operations instead.

Television censorship[]

  • Ferdinand Marcos' Bagong Lipunan regime banned various Super Robot anime, among these Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, Daimos, Gaiking and Voltes V. The official reason was for "violence and horror", when actually the reason is another. Many have said that the premise of Voltes V, which was about young rebels fighting against a brutal tyrant hit a little close to home for Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda. However, his son Bongbong and one of the voice actors state that some PTAs and a Catholic group demanded Ferdinand to ban Super Robot anime. This resulted that Voltes V's titular robot was adopted by the rebel factions as a mascot. The ban was lifted after the EDSA revolution and the subsequent election of Corazon Aquino as President of the Philippines.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers - while this show was not banned (even if some episodes are withheld from broadcast), censors refused to have the word "Morphin'", due to the outcry from parents that the word "Morphin'" was closer to "morphine" and would convince young viewers to use drugs[2].
  • The Loud House - The episode "Stage Plight" has been banned due to a scene showing a kiss between Luan and Benny.
  • Family Guy - This show was banned in the grounds of being "offensive and indecent", due to not having hefty free speech protections. However, it still airs on Disney+ in the Philippines.

Video game censorship[]

  • Video games as a whole were banned in the Philippines during the Marcos regime for much the same reasons through Presidential Decree 519, outlawing the use of pinball machines and other such devices. Like Voltes V before that, it was since been lifted following the EDSA revolution.
  • Defense of the Ancients - A village in Cavite, Philippines issued a ban on this game, citing delinquency issues among the youth and brawls ensuing from the game. This did not sit well with the video game community, calling it a foul move on the village officials' end.
  • PokΓ©mon GO is being banned preemptively, due to all the negative press the limited pre-release got.

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