The Philippines is home to a huge range of indigenous ethnic groups, each with its own indigenous language, culture and music. Over the last few decades, however, as the pressure of international culture and the culture of the dominant ethnic groups within the Philippines has risen because of the widespread access to radio, television and film, most of these indigenous cultures are weakening, or have even been entirely lost as living traditions. Dr José Maceda (1917–2004), composer and scholar in ethnomusicology, started to record indigenous music, collect indigenous musical instruments and take detailed field-notes and photographs of the musical cultures of the Philippines in 1953 when the indigenous musical cultures of the local peoples were still very much alive. Up to 2003, material was collected from 68 ethnic groups and South East Asians.
The José Maceda Collection (1953–2003) comprises 1,760 hours of tape-recordings, each accompanied by field notes, photographs, and in some cases, film footage. Indigenous epics, pre-Christian and syncretic ritual music, romances, and songs of all sorts, together with instrumental music, were collected. In some cases Dr Maceda visited an ethnic group more than once, with a decade or more between the visits, and was thus able to take details of how the culture had changed in the meantime because of the pressure of the dominant outside cultures. His collection is unique in size and scope. It is a significant memorial of the orally transmitted culture and allows detailed research into the cultural contacts between the Philippines and other East Asian societies in the pre-colonial period. The collection was inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2007.