Ateneo Peace Award conferred on MindaNews

DAVAO CITY (20 November 2010) —  The Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) on Friday conferred on MindaNews the  ”Ateneo Peace Award”  for “making a marked difference in Journalism and Public Information in the country.”

The university also conferred on the Archdiocese of Zamboanga the Archbishop Luis V. Del Rosario SJ, DD Award, the Pro Deo et Patria Award to the Assisi Development Foundation and gave Sheron Dayoc,  a graduate of the university whose film, Halaw, won the Best Director and Best Film Award in the New Breed Full Length Feature Category of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival,  a special plaque of recognition.

The Ateneo Peace Award is “given to persons, groups or organizations, government or non-government, who had made significant contributions to the peace process and the culture of peace.” This is the first time since 1998 that the award was conferred on a media organization.

The award, received for MindaNews by editors and board members Carolyn O. Arguillas and H. Marcos C. Mordeno, was given in recognition of its “significant contributions in providing accurate, timely and comprehensive news and information on Mindanao, its people, its culture, and its advocacies in the pursuit of being an alternative medium of media coverage especially in peace and development concerns, thus making a marked difference in Journalism and Public Information in the country.”

“MindaNews has been at the service of peace and development in Mindanao for a decade now. This peace award is a very timely occasion to give since we are celebrating our Mindanao Week of Peace at this time. What makes it so special is its brand of journalism which addresses the issues that afflict Mindanao. Its media advocacy is anchored on integrity, relentless search for the truth, cultural and religious sensitivity, peace building, care for the environment and empowerment of peoples. This makes MindaNews outstanding and different from conventional media. Its commitment to peace is unparalleled. We hope other media networks and practitioners would likewise pursue the same orientation,” Fr. Antonio Moreno, ADZU President said in his closing remarks at the awards convocation in the La Purisima campus in Zamboanga City.

Previous recipients of the Ateneo Peace Award are the Silsilah Dialogue Movement (1998);  Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) and Social and Literacy Agenda for Muslim (Salam) Foundation [2001];  Ms Sophia “Pianga” Tashim Albar (2002); Philippine Business for Social Progress (2003); Professor Rudy Rodil (2004); Elisa G. del Puerto (2005); Bishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD (2006);  Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (2007); Nagdilaab Foundation Incorporated (2008); and Lt. Gen. Mohammad Benjamin D. Dolorfino and Lt. Gen. Raymundo B. Ferrer (2009).

Moreno said many feel a sense of hopelessness and hunger for stories that bring life and hope.

“Our people thirst for narratives of individuals, communities, institutions and organizations that tell of commitment, competence and courage. Today we rejoice that as we celebrate the stories of our awardees, there is reason to hope and the future looks bright with them leading the way. Amid the feeling of hopelessness and despair, we celebrate the living legacies of our awardees,” Moreno said.

“These days there is fatigue everywhere. Many are tired of dreaming and imagining. Many are more at home with their comfort zones. There is a sense of resignation – nothing will work, nothing will happen. We need therefore to draw some energy and inspiration so that we can still make sense of our lives and fulfill our mission. We need models and outstanding examples to help us realize that something very difficult to achieve need not always be impossible to attain. We need people of imagination who can transform the lives of those at the fringes of society. Our awardees are God-sent. They energize us. They are like stars that give us light and courage to pursue our own journeys and dreams,” he said.

MindaNews is the news service arm of  the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center (MNICC) which also runs the news site www.mindanews.com.

Previous recipients of the Ateneo Peace Award are the Silsilah Dialogue Movement (1998);  Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) and Social and Literacy Agenda for Muslim (Salam) Foundation [2001];  Ms Sophia “Pianga” Tashim Albar (2002); Philippine Business for Social Progress (2003); Professor Rudy Rodil (2004); Elisa G. del Puerto (2005); Bishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD (2006);  Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (2007); Nagdilaab Foundation Incorporated (2008); and Lt. Gen. Mohammad Benjamin D. Dolorfino and Lt. Gen. Raymundo B. Ferrer (2009). [MindaNews]

ATENEO DE ZAMBOANGA UNIVERSITY PEACE AWARD

Ateneo de Zamboanga University grants this Peace Award to MindaNews, the only Mindanao-based, Mindanao-owned, and Mindanao-loved daily news service, published by the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center (MNICC). MindaNews is known, respected and valued as the pioneer and perennial champion of conflict-sensitive and culture-friendly peace journalism in Mindanao.

In 2000, when some parts of Mindanao were still simmering from the all out war of President Estrada, a small group of dedicated professional journalists, led by Carol Arguillas, asked themselves how they could go beyond simply feeding news of conflict to war-biased Manila-based national dailies. They saw how their reports about the victims of violence were valued almost exclusively by body counts. They lamented how the good news of people’s grass roots peace initiatives would often go unprinted. There must be an alternative way of writing the Mindanao story.

The following year, these stirrings led to the creation of a truly independent, albeit financially hard up, media cooperative, run by journalists themselves. The founders of MindaNews had a vision of another Mindanao, a Mindanao that remained unseen and unnoticed by traditional news networks. They believed that Mindanao was not all bad news and that their responsibility as information providers was to ensure a delicate balance of reports beyond the usual fare published in national newspapers or aired on radio and television. And if they had to report on the fighting—as they also must—they wanted their reportage to consist of stories that seek to illuminate the complex context surrounding the various conflicts in the island.

Today, MindaNews offers many services. Its website globalizes Mindanao issues ranging from the peace process to environmental change, from local book production to archaeological finds, from the threats of genetically modified organism to the celebration of kids’ art exhibits. Local and international scholars and social movement leaders and even foreign embassies have developed the habit of referring to MindaNews reports.

For the past several years, MindaNews has also served as secretariat for the Mindanao Media Summit, coalition of print and broadcast media practitioners conscious of their role in pushing for Mindanao peace and development. MindaNews also continues to share its competence by providing journalism training for nongovernment organizations and cooperatives, special trainings for practitioners, campus journalism for students, grass roots journalism for communities, and management information system for different networks.

In their declaration of shared values, MindaNews journalists assert that “social responsibility is the priority in our undertakings as a cooperative. This involves integrity, honesty, conscious search for the truth, sensitivity and respect for faiths and cultures, promotion of peace amidst pluralism, environmental advocacy, and dovetailing our services to the needs of the peoples of Mindanao, particularly the marginalized sectors. Viable and sustainable enterprise will enable us to undertake the above.” And indeed, they have lived up to these principles in real life and in their risky trade. MindaNews journalists have had to brave many difficulties, at times unmindful of the threats on their lives, just to report and deliver the news.

For the members, one poignant sacrifice cannot be forgotten. Gene Boyd Rodriguez Lumawag, MindaNews photo editor, was gunned down in Jolo, Sulu, on November 12, 2004 while on an official mission. His photograph and the countdown to justice stuck on the MindaNews website always reminds both writers and readers that MindaNews brand of peace journalism is borne out of solidarity with all the victims of violence everywhere.

After a decade of dedicated writing and advocacy, MindaNews has itself become a touching story of the same search for peace with justice, integrity and sustainability. And so today, it is the honor of Ateneo de Zamboanga University to pay tribute to this modern peace epic called MindaNews.

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