Istambay sa Mindanao

Personal blog of MindaNews' Walter I. Balane. Visit www.mindanews.com for more news, views and information on Mindanao.

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Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines

I'm Walter Balane. I am a journalist based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines. I initiated the group called Atong Press (www.atongpress.ning.com) for press freedom and responsibility and media education in Bukidnon.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

ESSAYS: From Bukidnon to the World

By Walter I. Balane/MindaNews

MALAYBALAY CITY -- Since I started reading newspapers on a daily basis in 1994, I had always wanted to read news datelined from my home province.
Having studied and worked in Iloilo and Manila, I always considered reading news from home as my way to be connected on a social perspective. The publication of news from home in national dailies is of course also a source of pride, although, when it is bad news, a source of shame.

But “national daily newspapers” did not really give me news about Bukidnon. I considered myself left out among my friends from other cities in the country. Almost on a daily basis, there was news datelined from their places. And almost everyday, I tended to forget about “caring to know what’s happening back home.”

This is why I have my own resentments towards the “national press.” It is as if my province or myself did not exist. I got an impression that everything was all right in Bukidnon, just as the news or the lack of it, has indicated. The feeling made me think that I was becoming a “second class citizen.”

The geographical persecution I got from acquaintances in Manila and Iloilo also added salt to injury. Every time we talked about hometowns, they always teased me about the “mountains” and the backwardness of Bukidnon.

For them, Bukidnon is a faraway place. They would say I have grasped the value of “modern” clothing and speaking the lingua franca unlike my kababayans back home.

For them, people in Bukidnon wore "bahag" and lived in the mountains as the provincial name connotes.
Worst, while they thought of the people of the province as mountain people, they also believed of the whole province as a big farmland, half of it planted to pineapples and sugarcane.
Even when I checked the internet for information about Bukidnon, the results were insufficient. Only government portals have postings on information about the province, mostly basic guide for tourists.
I always ended conversations on a note of disgust. I believed nothing wrong was going on, except that I was talking to geographically and socially ignorant urbanites.


Deep within, I doubted. With the absence of news and information, I had my own ignorance about Bukidnon my home. I began to believe that, indeed, nothing was going on. I began to feel that Bukidnon was, indeed, “backward” and “provincial” to be written about in newspapers. I was totally wrong of course. When I went home in 2001, so much had changed about Bukidnon in my around eight years of absence. Many things happened in the province that did not gain prominence enough to land in “prestigious” and “national” daily newspapers. Apparently, “no news from Bukidnon” meant no one has been covering the province on a dedicated basis. Also, I realized that Bukidnon is not in the national news because it’s not an area of conflicts between government forces and the Moro rebels and the Abu Sayyaf. In short, it’s not where the bad news is.
Obviously, the conversion of an agricultural and environmental haven into a bustling economy, complete with degradation, is not news to editors in Manila.

When I became a reporter and eventually editor of Central Mindanao Newswatch, I planned that someday, Bukidnon would be in the news for what it is and people would understand it. It’s not really about the good or bad news, but about what has really happened.

When I joined MindaNews in 2002, I got a full view of how I was going to achieve such vision. MindaNews has provided me with an avenue to put Bukidnon’s peoples, events and issues in the news without really haggling for attention.

There are actually many journalists who are now covering Bukidnon for national coverage, but more than half of their reports are about the province’s annual cultural festival. Bukidnon is of course more than mountains, the Kaamulan festival, the “largest pineapple plantation” or the “second home of sugar centrals.”

In MindaNews, I found the perfect vehicle to go and get the message across.
The pride that I have for becoming part of MindaNews’ editorial team is one that stems from my desire to help chart the way Bukidnon is reported and the way the peoples, events and issues in the province are understood.

With MindaNews on the web, Bukidnon news is not anymore confined to its provincial boundaries.
Last year, when I wrote about the corn cob problem faced by thousands of Bukidnon farmers, a former boss who now works at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus browsed the articles I wrote from the web.

“Your homecoming is amazing, you are now doing what you have always wanted to do,” he wrote in an e-mail. He reminded me about my plan to go home and work in the province where I think I was most needed. In another coverage, a Malaysian consultant for the palm oil industry being put up in Bukidnon told me he got his Mindanao 101 from www.mindanews.com. Now I see the power of information, especially on Bukidnon, transcending boundaries.

Hopefully, I could help make the world understand our province and the rest of Mindanao.
I feel very fulfilled in realizing that my little desires in the past to be updated about Bukidnon news has resulted in my desire to report about Bukidnon and Mindanao, the way it should be. Thanks to MindaNews and the people behind it.

(Walter I. Balane, 27, is a MindaNews correspondent from Malaybalay City now based in Davao City. He used to edit Bukidnon’s only regular newspaper, Central Mindanao Newswatch. He is a member of the steering committee of the Mindanao Media Forum. Balane has an economics- management degree from UP-Iloilo. He has MBA units at the International Academy of Management and Economics in Makati.)

1 Comments:

Blogger Waltzib said...

But you have written no more stories about Bukidnon in the last three months, except a couple of news. Think about it.

11:03 PM  

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