by Paolo Affatato
Tandang (Agenzia Fides) - The new Catholic radio inaugurated by the Philippine diocese of Tandag is called "Unitas Radio". It is the first Catholic radio station in the Surigao region, on the island of Mindanao, in the south of the Philippines. Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, who participated in the inauguration a few days ago, said: "This celebration reminds us of our goal of evangelization and proclamation of the Kingdom of God through media and social communication, here, at home". The broadcast began, on an experimental basis, at the beginning of 2022, and the idea of using an instrument that is still decisive in the region was born from reflection on how to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the diocese. Unitas Radio 103.1, whose management is entrusted to the Diocesan Commission for Social Communications, explained the Bishop of Tandag, Msgr. Raul Dael, "will serve to make the voices, often abandoned or silenced, of the poor speak, and will also serve to make the unheard voices of the world heard, like a listening ear. Traditionally, for Catholic communities in Asian countries, radio has been an instrument of pastoral proximity and "first announcement", very useful in rural or mountainous areas. The Philippines is no exception. The network of small diocesan stations accomplishes work recognized especially by the poorest and least educated faithful. Among the stations that bring the Good News to the archipelago we find the "Dominican Radio of Manaoag", established in the community of Manaoag, Pangasinan, a media initiative of the Dominican community that responds to the need to preach the Gospel - the Order is that of Preachers. Among the most recent initiatives, "Spotlight radio" debuted in October 2021, aimed above all at young people in particular and featuring Christian music and programs, as well as stories and testimonies that can inspire people to face the future with faith, charity and hope. It is an Internet radio station with a diverse program that "combines music and food for the soul", with a preference for young audiences. DYRF Radio Fuerza is a university station, born and run by students, which operates from the campus of the University of San Carlos in Cebu City. For its creativity, it received the “Best Religious Radio of 2023” award from the International Golden Globe Achievers Awards. Then there is "DZWM - Work of Mary", a radio station owned by the Alaminos Community Broadcasting Corporation, the news organ of the Diocese of Alaminos. Launched in 1991, it is dedicated to serving the Church for "evangelization and the construction of the common good" and offers programs that touch not only on the catechetical and religious sphere, but also on culture and current affairs, reinterpreted in the light of faith. Among the best organized stations is "Radio Maria Philippines", active today throughout the archipelago, which seeks to inspire its listeners to an active practice of faith, encouraging devotion to the Virgin Mary and prayer, and by broadcasting human and Christian formation programs.
Part of the international Radio Maria network, it was founded in the Philippines in 2002, with its main studio built in Tarlac City. From there, the station expanded to the cities of Tuguegarao, Santiago and Olongapo, becoming a national radio station. Radio Maria especially intercepts a part of the Catholic community very present in popular devotions. By far the largest radio station, a mainstay in the Philippines and throughout Asia, is Radio Veritas 846, the most listened to religious radio station in the country. Open 24 hours a day, it broadcasts information, religious programs, music, catechesis, liturgy, without neglecting in-depth analyses, current affairs and social issues. The Radio Veritas studio is located in the Veritas Tower on Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue (EDSA), Quezon City, MetroManila, and is the expression of a project born within the Federation of Episcopal Conferences of Asia, carried out thanks to the commitment and collaboration of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines. As early as 1958, delegates of Asian bishops, meeting at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, decided to operate and maintain a Catholic radio station to serve as an instrument of evangelization and information in East Asia and Oceania. Ten years later, in 1969, the studios of Radio Veritas were officially opened in Quezon City, and in 1970, Pope Paul VI visited and blessed the radio, which was designed with many language programs to reach Asian people, particularly in the south and southeast of the continent. Radio Veritas has been instrumental in some of the turning points in the life of the Filipino nation. The station bravely exposed the assassination of former senator Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino in 1983 and was the only station to broadcast the funeral procession of the assassinated senator, with two million people lining the streets. The Philippines was then under the dictatorship of General Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos, who was elected president in 1965, proclaimed martial law in 1972, assuming all powers and emptying democratic bodies of their substance. With the support of the army, he suppressed all opposition. The assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino, a popular opponent, was attributed to circles close to the dictator. This episode shook the conscience of the nation. It was through Radio Veritas that, on February 22, 1986, the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Jaime Sin, called on the people to peacefully join EDSA in support of then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, and the deputy chief of staff, Fidel Ramos. Cardinal Sin's call on Radio Veritas ushered in what is known as the "non-violent popular revolution", a procession that saw millions of people in the streets for four days. Known to history as the "Rosary Revolution" - the Rosary was the object that millions of people held in their hands, singing and praying - this demonstration led to the peaceful ousting of the dictator, who fled abroad, while the presidential guard laid down their arms. From that moment on, a new democratic era dawned in the Philippines.
In the same year, Radio Veritas received the Ramon Magsaysay Prize for Journalism and Communication, which recognized its crucial role in using the truth to overthrow an oppressive and corrupt regime and restore public confidence in the democratic process. In 1991, Radio Veritas became a commercial station. In recent years, it has launched the idea of "community radio" to further engage listeners and deepen its vision and mission as a "station of truth and evangelization." Currently, it also operates through its website and social media platforms and intends to expand its reach to television. (Agenzia Fides, 24/10/2023)