“OUR Mindanao” newsmagazine goes weekly

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 August) –  MindaNews’ “OUR Mindanao” newsmagazine is now a weekly publication, its  launch Wednesday graced by Press Secretary Sonny Coloma, its entry hailed by former Press Secretary Jesus Dureza, a Mindanawon,  as “another milestone in print media in the region.”

Founded in 2001, the Mindanao News and Information Center Service Cooperative (MindaNews Co-op),  the lone surviving media cooperative in the country, launched “OUR Mindanao” as a monthly publication in 2011.

“The trend these days has been for newspapers to have online versions and other media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter. Yet here we are doing the reverse. From online, we move to print, though on a monthly basis for now because with too much information available 24/7, there is an even greater need to process the information gathered and put in the context to help us better understand Mindanao’s complex issues,” Carolyn O. Arguillas, OUR Mindanao’s editor in chief said at the launch of the monthly publication on January 10, 2011.

A monthly publication did not turn out to be the right mix, given the advances in technology  and an even faster pace of information transfer through  mobile phones and tablets so a test run was done for six issues in its new 11 by 14 newsprint format, before the formal launch as a weekly on August 28.

The newsmagazine will come out every Monday with print and online subscriptions available.  In its pre-launch issues, it featured a table of Mindanao’s elected officials from 1987 to 2016  for the House of Representatives and 1988 to 2016 for governors and city mayors; Mindanao’s poverty statistics, a special edition on the Bangsamoro Annex on Wealth-Sharing, the attendance record of Mindanawon representatives,  travel, culture, food, fitness, books, opinion, business, updates on the peace process, a youth section and other faces and facets of Mindanao.

Bailallie Limbona-Lidasan (L)  and Aveen Acuna-Gulo of IPDev reading OUR Mindanao at the launch of the weekly newsmag in Davao City on August 28. Gulo said "the better perspective" on Mindanao "is from within." MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas
Bailallie Limbona-Lidasan (L) and Aveen Acuna-Gulo of IPDev reading OUR Mindanao at the launch of the weekly newsmag in Davao City on August 28. Gulo said “the better perspective” on Mindanao “is from within.” MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas

The August 26 issue features, among others, the controversy over the Priority Development Assistance Fund, the attendance record of Mindanawon representatives, a list of Mindanawon representatives sitting as committee chairs in the House.

Complimentary copies are available from its website, www.ourmindanao.com.

Arguillas said the publication’s name is “OUR Mindanao” because it is not just MindaNews’ but the Mindanawons’ paper,  as it welcomes contributions of articles, features, opinion pieces, photographs, essays, poetry, short stories, from other Mindanawons within Mindanao or outside Mindanao, whether in media or from other sectors, or from non-Mindanawon residents who wish to share their narratives about Mindanao.

Students are encouraged to contribute as well.

“A bold forward initiative”

“What seems to be — at first impression —  a step back in today’s high-velocity information environment is actually a bold forward initiative to take the road less travelled,” Coloma said.

“I salute the men and women of MindaNews for establishing a news cooperative that is committed to professional and responsible journalism.  They have embarked upon a mission: to shape an informed consciousness among Mindanawans, believing that a purposive sense of identity leads to better citizenship. Our organization, the Presidential Communications Operations Office — and its field network, the Philippine Information Agency — hereby affirms its solidarity with MindaNews,” Coloma who described the launching as a “path-finding event.”

“Beyond opting to travel on the road less taken, you have decided to carve a distinct identity that will lead to the fulfillment of the Mindanawans’ fullest potentials.  Our common interest transcends tomorrow’s headlines and breaking stories.  We want to discover and understand the wellsprings of our people’s aspirations and dreams.  So let’s work together and make it not just Our Mindanao but also Our Pilipinas,” he said.

Another milestone

Dureza,  now chair and president of the Philippine Press Institute, was not able to attend the launch but sent a message from Manila. “Today marks another milestone in print media in the region,” he said.

Dureza served as Presidential Assistant for Mindanao under the Ramos administration and served various posts under the Arroyo administration, among them as chief negotiator in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and as Press Secretary. “OUR Mindanao is methamorphosing from what it was for sometime –a monthly magazine — into a weekly publication that surely will be a refreshing and a welcome addition to the exciting world of journalism in our dear Mindanao,” Dureza said.

“It is comforting,” he added, “for us who look forward to new information and opinion channels that will give context to our diversity and the challenges we face as an island region” that behind this effort “are the collective talents, experience, savvy and passion of veteran journalists.”

Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar (center) with Aveen Acuna-Gulo of IPDev and Benjo Basa of the Initiatives for International Dialogue. Gaspar urged the audience to support and pray for the weekly newsmag, OUR Mindanao. Davao City on 28 August. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas
Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar (center) with Aveen Acuna-Gulo of IPDev and Benjo Basa of the Initiatives for International Dialogue. Gaspar urged the audience to support and pray for the weekly newsmag, OUR Mindanao. Davao City on 28 August. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas

Mussolini Lidasan, chair of the Al Qalam Institute of the Ateneo de Davao University;  Aveen Acuna-Gulo of the IPDev in Cotabato City,  Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar; Dr. Macario Tiu, Mary Ann Arnado of  the Mindanao Peoples Caucus,  businessman John Gaisano, Councilors Mabel Sunga Acosta and Leo Avila also delivered their messages welcoming “OUR Mindanao.”

Press Secretary Sonny Coloma (right) in a huddle with businessman John Gaisano at the launch of OUR Mindanao weekly newsmag in Davao CIty on August 28. Coloma said going weekly is a "bold foward" initiative while Gaisano said it is a "very good step" and Mindanawons stnd to benefit from having a Mindanao paper. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas
Press Secretary Sonny Coloma (right) in a huddle with businessman John Gaisano at the launch of OUR Mindanao weekly newsmag in Davao CIty on August 28. Coloma said going weekly is a “bold foward” initiative while Gaisano said it is a “very good step” and Mindanawons stnd to benefit from having a Mindanao paper. MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas

Transforming the journalism landscape

From Manila, Executive Director Red Batario of the Center for Community Journalism and Development, wrote that “after blazing new trails in doing journalism in a region often unfairly described as conflict-ridden, MindaNews once more demonstrated its innovative spirit by publishing the newsweekly magazine OUR Mindanao.”

CCJD, he said, “congratulates MindaNews for continually transforming the journalism landscape of Mindanao.”

In his welcome address, H. Marcos C. Mordeno, chair of the MindaNews Co-op,  noted the shirts worn by MindaNews members on which are written the text “Mindanao is a garden” with the painting of butterflies in front and “It is not a plantation” on the back of the shirt.  The painting is from the “Dance of the butterflies” by Sister Marjorie Guingona while the text is from Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ.

MindaNews Co-op chair H. Marcos C. Mordeno in his welcome address said "to write only about its (Mindanao's) beauty and color is a crime.To write only about its ugly side is a sin." MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas
MindaNews Co-op chair H. Marcos C. Mordeno in his welcome address said “to write only about its (Mindanao’s) beauty and color is a crime.To write only about its ugly side is a sin.” MindaNews photo by Erwin Mascarinas

“The word garden suggests variety, diversity, color and hence, beauty – wild beauty, if you wish. Plantation on the other hand means hundreds, if not thousands, of hectares of land planted to a single crop – a picture of monotony and drab uniformity. Mindanao is a garden because it is home to diverse cultures, rich biodiversity, and sadly, diverse conflicts spawned by diverse interests. This is the Mindanao we wish to portray and must portray. To write only about its beauty and color is a crime. To write only about its ugly side is a sin. And so we shall write about the festivals and other happy events. But we shall also write about displaced peoples, calamities and other tragedies.”

“We shall write about Mindanao, the garden, its plants and flowers, worms, pests and all.  Welcome to the garden. Welcome to our garden. Welcome to OUR Mindanao,” he said. (MindaNews)

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