Published on IPSnews, by Kalinga Seneviratne, January 03, 2009.
UPI, Mindanao, Sep 2 (IPS) – Amidst the raging conflict between government forces and Muslim rebels on the island of Mindanao, the religiously mixed population in the North Cotabato region looks to a community radio station as a beacon of peace.
Set up four years ago under the ‘GenPeace’ (gender and peace) project, ‘DXUP-FM’ serves over 42,000 people in the mountainous Shariff Kabunsuan province of southwestern ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao).
A multicultural community, Upi comprises some 17 ethnic groups. Of these the indigenous Tedurays are the most prominent, making up 44 percent of the people. The Muslims, known as Bangsa Moros make up 23 percent. Christians, mainly settlers from Luzon brought to the area during the United States’ occupation, form another 33 percent.
The ethnic composition of the community has created the term ‘Tri-People Community’ and it is this concept that drives DXUP’s programming philosophy and helps it to promote harmony among the people.
“Everyone here works towards appreciating the goodness of life,” says station manager Mario Debolgado, a local businessman and an Anglican Christian …
… The station was established by the local government unit (LGU) of Upi with the assistance of the Norte Dame Foundation for Charitable Activities (NDFCA) and financial support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) multi-donor scheme.
Today the station is dependent for almost 90 percent of its funding on the Upi LGU and is driven by volunteer support. Training for the volunteer broadcasters is given by the Philippines national radio network under a MOU signed to support the GenPeace stations.
Most of the cultural programmes and the news are broadcast in the Tagalog language, which is the national language of the Philippines, so that all communities can listen to and understand the programmes.
“The most important aspect of this radio station is that listeners are tuning in to each other’s cultural programmes,” observes Mayet Rivera, a mass communication lecturer from Mindanao who is doing doctorate-level research on the DXUP model.
“It is very exciting and kind of enlightening that people are now able to listen to things that matter, understanding each other’s culture and pave the way for respect and trust”, she added. (full text).