Mindanao’s oldest Catholic paper turns 65

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/6 February)—The Mindanao CROSS, the oldest running Catholic weekly newspaper in Mindanao, turned 65th years old today (Wednesday).

Eva Kimpo-Tan, The Mindanao CROSS editor-in-chief, said “The Little Paper With a Big Cause” is looking forward to play a bigger community role in the coming years especially with the positive development in the Mindanao peace process.

“We will continue to be involved in explaining and clarifying things especially in relation to the Bangsamoro issue while we maintain our Catholic character,” she told MindaNews.

Copies of The Mindanao CROSS from a donated printing press first hit the streets on February 6, 1948. Oblate missionary Fr. Gerard Mongeau, who became the first bishop of the undivided Cotabato empire, founded the paper as part of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) mission in Mindanao.

Tan especially thanked the paper’s readers and advertisers for helping it survived for 65 years.

On its editorial for this week’s issue, the paper said that aside from maintaining its circulation and readership, a major factor for its survival could have been its ”having continually espoused the intrinsic values of integrity, credibility and commitment to the community.”

In 1950, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, then an altar boy, recalled that the paper sells for 10 centavos per copy.

“If I sold all my [50] copies I would earn P25, in those days a lot of money for a first year high school boy. Thank God, the demand quickly overran the supply!” he wrote for the 60th anniversary of the Mindanao CROSS five years ago.

Sixty-five years later, the paper sells for P10 per piece, and is getting most of its income not from the circulation but from advertisements.

Based in Cotabato City, the paper has a rich repository of events in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao.

“As the Mindanao CROSS celebrates its 65th anniversary, it can look back with pride at its achievements: its numerous national journalistic and media awards, its contributions to the education of the reading public, its promotion of dialogue and harmony between peoples of various religions, [and] its fostering of lasting and just peace in our region,” Quevedo said in his congratulatory message.

“All these achievements are due to God who guides and enables all human efforts. Whatever has been accomplished flow from a vision of religious faith that has to be engage with the burning issues of the day in the political, economic, social, [and] cultural fields. That vision of faith includes respect for human dignity and justice, respect for other religions, respect for integrity and truth. This vision is the guiding light of the Mindanao Cross,” he added.

Quevedo, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, lauded the OMI for their vision of the role of the Catholic paper in the context of other religions, particularly Islam. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)