The Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA) is a nonprofit service institution whose mission has been to assist citizens and communities—especially civil society organizations (CSOs) and other development stakeholders—in their strategic and appropriate use of the various information and communications media for democratization and popular empowerment.
Since its formation in 1987, FMA has sought to enhance the popularization and social marketing of development-oriented issues and campaigns through media-related interventions, social communication projects, and cultural work. Since 1996 FMA has streamlined its programs and services in both traditional and new media, with a major focus on information and communications technologies (ICTs), to enable communities assert their communication rights and defend their rights to information and access to knowledge, towards progressive social transformation.
In a country where the vast majority still has very low access to ICT resources, and where development organizations have not sufficiently unleashed the potential of ICTs and the internet, FMA seeks to develop programs and projects that strategically address the questions of access to and equity of disadvantaged sectors in the area of information and communications—and in locating the so-called “digital divide” within existing socio-political divides, including gender. These involve:
FMA in the early days of the PH internet helped set up a Countrywide Development-Wide Area Network (CODE-WAN) that provided a free e-mail service for NGOs. FMA also organized various community websites of different issue- and sector-based advocacies. It also continues to help raise capacities within civil society in many tactical technologies for strategic use of NGOs and social movements, such as the Martus system (a secure online human rights reporting tool) now used by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and several HR NGOs. FMA was one of the pilot Asian testers of the Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) now being mainstreamed for application to ICT projects. It now coordinates interventions in national and regional spaces for a free and open internet, privacy rights online, and ICTs and gender.
FMA continues to engage in research and advocacy on various aspects of Philippine infocomms policy and internet governance. It has represented civil society in the country’s highest ICT policy-making bodies; was part of the country’s Delegation to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), and was a convenor of Asian CSO participation in the WSIS processes. It is also part of a local and international initiatives related to ‘communication rights’, ‘internet rights’, ‘gender & ICTs’ and ‘ICTs for development’. FMA has engaged in the promotion of Open Access, Free/Open Software, Open Content, and Open Standards. It has written numerous policy papers on the Philippine “information society” with a strong public interest frame.
FMA is a member of the global Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the Campaign for Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS Campaign), Take Back the Tech to End Violence Against Women, the Open Net Initiative (ONI)-Asia, Privasia.