In 1950, the Oblate parish priest of Marbel, Koronadal, gave two altar boys 50 copies each to sell at 10 centavos a copy. I was one of the two altar boys. Our share would be 5 centavos per copy sold. If I sold all my copies I would earn P25.00, in those days a lot of money for a first year high school boy. Thank God, the demand quickly overran the supply!
Today the Mindanao Cross enjoys the singular honor of being the longest running Catholic newspaper in the Philippines. Its roster of competent editors includes distinguished media people who later went on to achieve national prominence, such as: Nereo Andolong, Rodolfo Tupas, Emil Jurado, and Patricio Diaz. It has reaped many richly deserved awards, the most recent being the provincial paper with the best editorial- writing.
Its predominantly secular news provides information and clarification regarding events that are happening and developing. Its editorials strive to provide meaning and critical interpretation to the often difficult and confusing political and social burning issues of the day. Its Catholic religious content and orientation is unobtrusive, readable, tempered with respect and charity, while providing information and guidance to the Catholic faithful. A welcome educational combination to the secular and religious!
For 60 years, the little paper with a big cause has reported the news, clarified and interpreted it, thus helping the shape of the opinions of countless readers in our small corner of the world.
How does one evaluate the work of the Mindanao cross? One way is to use the "triple dialogue" of the Asian Catholic Bishops. In 1974, the Bishops surveyed the Asian situation and identified three key characteristics: Asia's identity as the cradle of the world's ancient religions, its rich mosaic of cultures, and its massive poverty.
If religious mission is a task of sharing the treasures of one's faith for the benefit of all, including that of social transformation, the task would have to be by way of a triple dialogue; dialogue with other persons, dialogue with cultures, and dialogue with the poor. Through this triple dialogue, a better person and a better world would slowly emerge.
Genuine dialogue means commitment to one's own identity and convictions, understanding and respect for others' beliefs, a fraternal conversation and humble journeying- together- to discover and to do the will of God in the political, economic, social, cultural, and religious spheres. A peaceful dialogical process—this is the way to justice, peace and harmony among peoples of different religious beliefs and cultures, the way to social transformation on behalf of the poor.
Given these criteria, one may state with great certainty that through 60 years the Mindanao Cross has been respectful of various religious traditions, especially of Islam. It has fostered the development of different cultures, especially of the marginalized. It has consistently demonstrated a preferential option for taking the side of the poor in the universal struggle for a better future. In this triple dialogue, it has played the role of critiquing, encouraging, promoting, and advocating.
In various burning issues of the day, the Mindanao Cross has been faithful to a perennial and traditional Catholic moral principle which may be liberally translated from the Latin, thus: "In matters that are certain, declare the truth; in doubtful matters, promote liberty; and in all things, exercise charity."
At 60 the Mindanao cross begins a new life of service to the community. Congratulations to the little paper with a big cause! Our gratitude and prayers to our loving God as well! (This piece written by Archbishop Orlando Quevedo was used as editorial of The Mindanao Cross for its 60th anniversary issue this weekend. The editorial’s original title is “The Mindanao Cross, new Life at 60).