Mindanao is more than a war story

Published January 15, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Restituto Cayubit

By John Tria

John Tria
John Tria

People outside Mindanao used to think of the island in limited terms – either war, poverty, or promise. In 2017, however we saw much more of Mindanao.

The most recent stories portraying Mindanao have become more varied than the usual war and conflict reportage.

Unlike before, we now hear of natural calamities, Islamic and lumad identity, and the melting pot culture, new travel hotspots, the influx of investments, and the increased attention on the island as a seat of power.

Even the Marawi crisis became the touchstone that opened up both discussion and hope on matters beyond the conflict. The once dark island is now seen through a deeper prism, revealing its varied facets, prompting people to seek more than what some mainstream media outlets can provide.

Much of this new consciousness is fed by the increased prominence of community journalism and social media- bringing more angles, perspectives and colors to light from sources and voices once muffled by the lack of access to channels like Facebook.

Mindanaoans seek truth beyond just facts. They, like many in today’s audience, bear a desire to understand the totality of the phenomenon, not just the juicy parts that sell. Truth is not simply what is reported, it is the result of judging facts from various sources, vetting veracity and understanding context.

Thus, they demand to see more than one side, and patronize media outlets that cater to their desire for balance and distaste for bias.

This is coupled with the finding in the Pahayag survey of Publicus Asia where half of those surveyed now give more attention to political issues than they used to.

Mindanaoans have thus become more discerning, critical, and sometimes, cynical of some mainstream media outlets that force them, for example, to listen to traffic reports of a metropolis they do not live in, or crime stories of Manila’s districts they have never seen.

The same audience also wants to talk, and demands that their perspectives form part of the story, to challenge the prevailing thought or notion some journalists about their reality. Students of Paulo Freire and Antonio Gramsci have much to study.

For them, media is no longer the monopoly or hegemony of one journalist or media outlet.

With this, Mindanao’s reality has been plumbed more deeply, its various sides viewed from more eyes than before.

The view that Mindanao simply equals war has slowly melted, bringing the hope of better coverage for the rich kaleidoscope to fulfill the promise it brings for the 30 million at the border of a resurgent ASEAN, on the cusp of peace.

Investment update: Phildutch starts shipping

We congratulate Philippine-Dutch company Phildutch polymers for being the first PEZA registered manufacturing company to ship industrial polymers from Davao.

This is the first of some 40-50 containers from a 2,000 square meter plant that will hire some 60 employees in the Davao regions first functional PEZA industrial estate beside the Davao International Container terminal.

This development is significant since this represents the first non-agricultural export from a PEZA Zone in Davao. Beside it, a few other factories are going up, signaling an increase in labor intensive manufacturing activity.

Indonesian border developments

The recent agreement on border issues with the Republic of Indonesia reveals the truth that about 20,000 ethnic Indonesians live in Mindanao, bound by centuries old familial ties.

The high level of interstate cooperation is applauded, as it also facilitates more people to people exchange vital to sustaining the politico- economic project of ASEAN.

Foreign Mininster Retno Marsudi’s visit to Davao to meet the President affirms Indonesia’s recognition of the southern Philippine city as an anchor of Indo-RP relations.

Kudos to the Indonesian foreign ministry. The Indonesian consul general to Davao Berlian Napitupulu has been successful in bringing a high level of cultural exchange to Davao with recent trade visits by his country’s traders and cultural ambassadors, opening up the Indonesia consulate and its cultural center facilities to us.

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