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Kusug Radio 100.7FM: Sulu’s new media pulse

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Yesterday morning was the formal inauguration and launch-on-air of Kusug Radio 100.7FM, and it was a celebration of music-on-air.

While I was in Sulu last week, the station went on test broadcast, and the technical team was just up to their neck with work in installing everything that was needed.  The media facility, a grant by the US Military Information Support Team and received on behalf of the Philippine Armed Forces by the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2, is installed atop the Mount Bayug Eco-Cultural Park  in scenic Talipao town. The pioneering management team and deejays were a blast to the entertainment-thirsty Tausugs, who apparently have been weary of stories on war and casualties.

Hitting the airwaves with a (4-municipality) reach from Talipao, the station is flooded with song requests, and greetings.

Station manager Romelito Macaraig did say Kusug Radio is designed to provide a balance between entertainment on one hand, and information and education on the other, for the listening public of Sulu. However, because the song requests and greetings among the Tausugs are growing in number day by day, the station’s mission to entertain will have to prevail first in the next few weeks, even months.

Its first week was devoted to technical competency training, simultaneous with broadcast content delivery training among the personnel.  With the good start the broadcast team just had, I as a journalist would like to see the station reach out to more people not only in music, but in responsible information dissemination and delivery of public issues that would affect directly or indirectly the people of Sulu.

One possible issue that popped up is the eventual competition among the existing broadcast stations and the new station.  However, this should not be overplayed.  The other stations are state-owned as well, as Notre Dame’s station signed off for good, and Radyo ng Bayan in Sulu has long-figured as the Tausug’s radio-mate.  I rang National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) IX Regional Director Engr. Edgardo Celorico, who informed me that the US military soldiers had gone through the process from inquiry to installation, and from the start declared that the radio facility will be eventually granted to the Philippine Marines with the assurance that it will operate as a community-based radio and will never be operated nor handled by the US soldiers themselves. He then added that under the Commonwealth Act 3846, or the Radio Control Act of the Philippines, military-run radio stations are exempted from Philippine radio broadcast laws but are expected to comply with international laws. 

As a reminder to all colleagues in radio, broadcasting should be a healthy playing field, especially in a province like Sulu which is gradually moving out from its image of being a war-torn area. And I remember what a friend, former Flag-Officer-in-Command Admiral Alexander Pama, said, that while some sectors do not appreciate the military’s involvement, there are cases when it is the military sector that can best deliver community development.  For reasons of sustainability in the broadcast industry especially in Sulu, this could be an example.

POSTSCRIPT:  While I had lived a week in Sulu, I only regret having to spend brief moments with Zeny Masong, Love, Nash Abduhadi, and the others in the media industry in Lupah Sug.  I thank Kah Fazlur-Rahman Abdulla, Jake Ahijon and the Sulu Area Coordinating Center for hosting and coordinating the symposium entitled, ‘The Power of Radio Broadcasting in the Social Media Age thru Peace Journalism,’ to the Voice of Mindanao for providing the training materials, and to the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 for co-coordinating the symposium and providing me full security in my week-long activities.

When I arrived at Jolo airport, I immediately had a very interesting discussion with Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan—on media’s responsibility. I also had a brief tete-a-tete with Chuck Mangoroban. Two days after, I met in his Maimbung home Sulu’s youngest ever chief executive, Gov. Abdusakur Tan II.  I also met an epitome of an empowered woman leader in the person of Lunggang Barangay Chair Mariam Indal.  Despite the flooded Hadji Butu Street in Jolo, I paid a visit to a good friend from the Darul Ifta of the Philippines, Sulu Mufti Ustadz Julasiri Abirin (and recalled days when we worked together in the making of the book on environmental governance, Al Khalifa, in Zamboanga and Cotabato Cities) at the Institute of Islamic Guidance, and likewise enjoyed a warm chat with the Task Force Sulu commander Marine Col. Jose Johriel Cenabre.

Eight days in Sulu allowed me to meet coffee farmers in Patikul and Talipao; to interview Malaysian kidnap victim Tang Wee Jie who ran-and-walked away from his Sayyaf captors till his feet and legs finally led him to freedom; to check out wonderful islands and Sulu’s amazing avifauna; to take a breathtaking view of the province from Mount Dahu; to marvel at the beauty of Mount Tumatangis and Mount Datu from their foot; to write, when heavy rains kissed Mount Bayug; and to laugh and commune with the community folk in Talipao and Patikul, as well as with the Marines who took good care of me:  Jiram, Mac, Penpen, Ninja, Kerwin, Gary, Rosili, Jozen, Freddie, Lt. Col. Dar, Gail, Garma, Sgt. Papas (please don’t go on AWOL), Neph Padua (and the Patikul-based others from MBLT 6 whose names I cannot reveal), and Dante (whom I congratulate for being the pride of the Philippine Marine Corps and of MBLT2 as this year’s Most Outstanding Philippine Soldier).

And thank you, Bim Quemado, for making all these happen. Uwaaa.  (Frencie Carreon, La Chica Viajera, for Zamboanga Today)

By Frencie L. Carreon




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