First in Asia: Podcast on Duterte’s drug war in US Library of Congress’ archives

October 30, 2020 - 4:44 PM
Logo of "Tokhang sa Tokhang" podcast from PumaPodcast Production

A podcast series about President Rodrigo Duterte‘s signature drug war becomes the first audio documentary series in the Philippines and Asia to be archived in the US Library of Congress’ Podcast Preservation Project.

The US Library of Congress, which is considered the world’s largest library and official resource for American policymakers, had been acquiring podcasts to archive and preserve among its collection of sound recordings since January 2020.

Quezon City-based PumaPodcast/PumaPublic Production announced that the project managers of the prestigious Library sent a letter to the team and identified their works as “among those we would like to include in our collection. We consider them to be an important part of the cultural and historical record.”

The project managers also affirmed that PumaPodcast’s projects were the first from Asia to be included among the library’s curated content.

The podcast series to be archived are the “Tokhang sa Tokhang” and the “COVID Diaries,” both of which were released and streamed on major platforms such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts this year.


Veteran journalist Roby Alampay, PumaPodcast founder and CEO, said that his team is honored and grateful for the chance to be part of the library’s collection of important historical digital content.

“This was a surprise and we are obviously honored. As a podcaster, you just want to be heard. As a person, you just want to be heard. We grateful that, even as the podcasting community is still nascent in our country and region, there are people who understand and share our value for Listening. That is in fact, by the way, the Vision statement of PumaPodcast: ‘A World That Listens’. The Podcast Preservation Project affirms what keeps us going,” Alampay, who served as Interaksyon’s editor in chief, said.

On the Library’s website, the digital preservation project is a collaboration of the Library of Congress Office of Strategic Initiatives and the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.

Their mission “is to develop a national strategy to collect, preserve and make available digital content for current and future generations.”

“Collaboration and shared ideas are essential to the success of NDIIPP and all digital preservation institutions. These podcasts are conversations with digital preservation leaders with whom the Library is collaborating,” it said.

The selected podcasts

The “Tokhang sa Tokhang” is a podcast comprising six episodes that ran between 20 and 36 minutes long and had been streaming since August.

In its Spotify profile, the producers described the documentary as their own way of “knocking and inquiring” to those affected by the still ongoing drug crusade.

“We do our own knocking and inquiring; our own katok and hangyo. We talk to parents, spouses, researchers, community workers, artists, church leaders, and government officials, to ask, “Kumusta”? How are you? What happened? How has it all been, since those doors to Filipino homes opened–or burst open?” it read.

“Tokhang sa Tokhang, as we would say. Tao po, kumusta ang Tokhang?” it added.

Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign through police drug operations called “Oplan Tokhang” caused thousands of deaths among the urban poor, which casualties include women and children.

The alleged extrajudicial killings prompted the United Nations Human Rights Council to approve a resolution that launched an investigation on the human rights crisis in the Philippines in 2018.

The “COVID Diaries,” meanwhile, focuses on the narratives and stories on the ground from Filipinos affected by the still raging novel coronavirus situation in the country.

Based on its profile at the International Media Support website, this podcast ran for at least six episodes featuring interviews from doctors, infected patients and other members of the urban poor.