OUR Mindanao news magazine launched

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 January) —  The December and January issues of OUR Mindanao, a monthly publication of the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center, (MNICC) were jointly launched Monday at the Tower Inn.

“A fulfillment of a dream. To have a Mindanao-wide publication wide that would project what Mindanao really is, not what Manila and other parts of the world want Mindanao to be or portraying Mindanao as what it is not,” said Patricio Diaz, former editor in chief of the Cotabato City-based Mindanao Cross and later Mindanao Kris, and at 84, the most senior member of the media cooperative. Diaz writes “Comment” for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews, the daily news service arm of the MNICC.

Patricio Diaz holding the second issue of the news magazine. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Gail Ilagan, who writes “Wayward and Fanciful” for MindaViews,  said, “for so long, Mindanao has been defined by the description and the interpretation of outsiders until, like every collective human myth, the dominant discourse eventually settled and gravitated around a consensus. And that consensus on Mindanao is that this is a land of war, divided by religion, ideology and conflicting interests, and in desperate need of saving. Depending on who’s looking, Mindanao is either a sponsor child of foreign development aid or a threatened damsel in distress who requires ever so often the mounting of strategic military operations. Not once. Not twice. But again and again and again. This image had been the dominant face of Mindanao. It had seemingly been the only face allowed of Mindanao, until ten years ago when an intrepid bunch of journalists and public intellectuals asked themselves how much they each stood accountable to their immediate community in the practice of their profession.”

“And so MindaNews was born. We come from all over Mindanao, united by our aspiration to inform about aspects and nuances of our community that had been less heard or properly appreciated. We felt it important to define Our Mindanao because it is only when we understand our community that we would be able to make choices about what we as individuals need to do to improve our experience of the world,” she said.

The first two issues of OUR Mindanao. December 2010 and January 2011. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

“We call our newsmagazine OUR Mindanao not only because that is a take-off from our “MindaNews: This is OUR Mindanao” assertion but also because we mean this to be OUR. Ato, Atin. Dili amo. Hindi amin. But OURS. Atin ito. This is OUR Mindanao,” said Carolyn O. Arguillas, the magazine’s editor in chief and MindaNews news editor.

Arguillas narrated that the media cooperative set up MindaNews, the daily news service arm on May 25, 2001; the www.mindanews.com website in 2002 as a weekly but was forced to go daily when the evacuations prior to what is now called the Buliok War, began on February 8, 2003.

She said the trend these days has been for newspapers to have online versions. “Yet here we are doing the reverse. From online, we move to print, though on a monthly basis, for now.”

But the news magazine has an online version, too. Subscribers, however, have to pay to access the content.

The print edition is priced at P60 in Mindanao. Details on how to subscribe to the print edition and its online version are available at OUR Mindanao’s website at  http://mindanews.com/ourmindanao/.

Lawyer Jesus Dureza, former Presidential Adviser on Mindanao and former Press Secretary, congratulated the media cooperative “for the commitment and dedication to make people understand Mindanao better. They need our support to continue this worthwhile endeavor.”

Jesus Dureza, former Presidential Adviser for Mindanao and Press Secretary. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Dureza is now publisher of the Davao City-based daily Mindanao Times and heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation.  He writes a weekly syndicated column.

Efren Elbanbuena, regional director of the Philippine Information Agency said that in their meetings at the national level, “I am always proud to say we have the only online cooperative news service in the country.”

“The group is really committed to peace and development in Mindanao,” he said, adding “there should be a kicker. OUR Mindanao. Ato kini” (This is Ours).

Elbanbuena, who was born in what is now Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, but who spent some time in Jolo, Sulu, said “there are a lot of things to write about Mindanao” and among that is,  “the best beach is not in Boracay, but Quezon Beach in Patikul, Sulu.”

Father. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., former Notre Dame University president and executive director of the Institute of Autonomy and Governance, said there are two kinds of people: the pessimist and the optimist. “MindaNews has roots of optimism of people behind it” he said, noting that, indeed, there is more to Mindanao than how it is perceived, and that these should be reported on .

Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, the former chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command and now chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said of their own military-published publications: “Huwag na tayong maglokohan na maglabas ng maraming reports mula sa atin na kesyo nanalo tayo dito (let’s not fool ourselves in coming out with reports that we won here), we have killed this number.”

Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, Western Mindanao Command chief. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

“Huwag na nating isulat mga ganito (Let’s not write about these things). Mag-contribute na lang tayo ng articles natin sa (Let’s just contribute articles to the) mainstream media, then let’s see how the public will perceive our articles,” he said.

Fr. Jonathan Domingo, trustee for Mindanao of the Philippine Press Institute, said, “so what if we’re provincial or local media, as long as we make positive impact.

Ferrer, like Diaz, Ilagan and Dureza, are among 20 authors who discussed the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the first issue of OUR Mindanao. The first issue’s theme is “Let the talks begin.”

Ferrer wrote “Over the Hump, Transitioning to Peace” where he noted that while warfighting is the traditional role of the military, it is “not the only choice a soldier has in order to accomplish the mission. Building peace and making it last is another.”

Ilagan wrote “War is Unwanted;” Diaz wrote “GRP-MILF: Adrift in a Sea of Questions” while Dureza wrote “Let us all be patient.” The opening  paragraphs of the articles are available online at the website of OUR Mindanao.

Tarhata Maglangit of Cotabato City, Perpy Tio of Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue, Diaz. Behind Diaz is Bobby Timonera, Associate Editor of OUR Mindanao and MindaNews managing editor. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The second issue’s theme is “Proud to be Mindanawon” and features on the cover world boxing champ Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao given a hero’s welcome in Sarangani, which he also represents in Congress, after he won his eighth world title in November.

While Pacquiao may be the world’s most famous Mindanawon in 2010, he was, however, just one among many Mindanawons who made 2010 significant. Last year wasn’t just Pacquiao’s year but the year for Mindanawon filmmakers and other artists and writers.

H. Marcos C. Mordeno, MindaNews editor in chief and Associate Editor of OUR Mindanao said, in closing the program, that the ultimate purpose of OUR Mindanao is “to serve as a forum for different views on the past, present and future of Mindanao.”

“Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. This is not a tribute to Chairman Mao but a challenge to writers and others to have the courage and commitment to actively join the discourse on a dynamic consciousness called OUR Mindanao,” Mordeno said.

The magazine will also be launched in Cotabato, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro and other parts of Mindanao,  and Manila.

MNICC members. MindaNews photo by Pidot Villocino

The media cooperative urges Mindanawons wherever they may be based in the country or outside, to submit article and photo contributions to OUR Mindanao as it also welcomes distributors of the news magazine within Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon

The first and second issues of the monthly news magagazine were published with the assistance of the  Australian Agency for International Development. The Mindanao Peoples Caucus also helped in the publication of the first issue but both agencies left the editorial judgment entirely to the MNICC. (MindaNews)