April 13, 2024

■  BMC RELEASE   

MAKING BAGUIO PROUD — The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office represented by Louie Glenn Lardizabal and the Baguio Midland Courier represented by Rimaliza Opiña and Ofelia Empian made Baguio proud when they were awarded by the Philippine National Volunteer Coordinating Agency in Manila on Dec. 12 for their contributions in promoting volunteerism. — Contributed photo

Stories that ignited the innate compassion (damayan), kindness (kabutihan), and concern (malasakit), of Filipinos has made the Baguio Midland Courier the winner of the inaugural Bayanihan Media Awards (BMA) conferred by the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) – an agency under the National Economic Development Authority on Dec. 12, in Manila.

Launched in August this year, the BMA recognizes media practitioners and organizations who have significantly contributed in popularizing volunteerism.

Entries submitted by the Midland Courier included the stories about how kindred souls pooled funds to finance an expensive, yet life-saving surgery for an infant with biliary atresia; the pro bono tutorials offered by an organization of commercial photographers and photojournalists to people with autism; the fashion show and tutorials organized by businessmen and artists to finance exhibits of artistically gifted people with autism; and the coming together of vendors, porters, and other volunteers to clean-up the Baguio City public market when a sizeable portion got burned in March.

A group of mental health experts forming an alliance to help address the rising number of suicides; the display of og-ogfo during the fire in Bontoc, Mountain Province; how an unassuming doctor from Baguio was able to rally groups, individuals, lawmakers, and even nations to pass laws mandating exclusive breastfeeding; musicians volunteering their talent to raise funds for the sick; sports enthusiasts from various parts of the Cordillera organizing runs, golf, bikes-for-a-cause for their advocacy; students and civic groups volunteering their time to pick litter and plant trees; artists donating their talent, effort, and time to beautify the city by painting bare concrete walls around the city; and bloodletting drives were also among the stories which led to the Midland Courier being nominated by the University of Philippines Baguio Public Affairs Office to the BMA.

For this, the PNVSCA said the Midland Courier’s works helped further popularize volunteerism and even helped make volunteerism a way of life.

The Midland Courier’s citation reads, “The Baguio Midland Courier, based in the Cordillera Administrative Region has been a steadfast advocate for volunteerism. Featuring a robust collection of over 20 articles, the newspaper has played a pivotal role in bringing to light the diverse and impactful aspects of volunteerism in the region. This coverage has not only celebrated the contributions of volunteers but has also emphasized the unique characteristics and challenges faced by volunteers in various areas.”

The Midland Courier has long been an advocate for volunteerism dating to as far back as the time of the paper’s founders – siblings Sinai and Oseo Hamada.

The tradition continued in the succeeding generations and was even strengthened during the tenure of the late former General Manager Charles M. Hamada.

Under Charles’ leadership, the Hamada Publishing Corporation (now Hamada Printers and Publishers Corporation) started the ball rolling for donation drives called the “Baguio Ko, Mahal Ko,” which created a ripple effect where Cordillera communities here and abroad, shared their resources to people in need.

These drives have been massive that one community in Pampanga who were displaced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the 1990s and who received sizeable donations channeled through the Midland Courier named their village “Barangay Midland Courier”, in recognition of the paper’s efforts.

The Midland Courier was also able to collect close to a million worth of cash and in-kind donations for victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

The Midland Courier which considers this as its way of giving back to the community, has continued the tradition under the leadership of current General Manager Gloria Antoinette Hamada.

At the height of the Covid-19 health crisis, she made it a point to continue publishing the paper to constantly keep the public informed. The Midland Courier also gave free space for announcements for donation drives for personal protective equipment, food, disinfectants, and other materials needed by the frontliners.

In his keynote message during the awarding ceremony, Civil Service Commission Chair and National Volunteer Month honorary chair Karlo Alexie Nograles underscored the invaluable role of media in promoting volunteerism.

“In the fast-paced world of media, your commitment of shedding light on the selfless acts of volunteers is truly commendable. Let it be said that your story telling has not only showcased the impact of volunteerism but has also served as a catalyst for others to join the noble cause. Through your lens and your word, you have brought attention to the unsung heroes in our communities, thus motivating others to step forward and make a difference,” Nograles said.

National Economic and Development Authority Sec. Arsenio Balisacan added the BMA acknowledges the media’s immense contributions to shaping a culture of volunteerism through their impactful stories and story-telling.

“The media, with its influential reach and story-telling prowess, serves as a powerful ally in promoting the spirit of volunteerism. By amplifying the narratives of volunteers, the media becomes a catalyst for inspiring others to join this noble cause,” he said.

Philippine Information Agency Director-General and BMA chair Jose Torres, Jr. also congratulated the awardees for their stories that helped propel volunteerism in their communities.

“We want to acknowledge and appreciate the passion and enthusiasm of our friends from the media who write impactful stories, create images and voices that have amplified the essence of volunteerism through their work. Their storytelling has amplified the beauty of selfless service and we thank them for being champions of compassion and community engagement. Their dedication to showcasing the power of giving back not only inspired but also sparked a collective sense of responsibility towards creating positive change,” Torres said.

Other BMA awardees in the organization category were Aksyon Reports Afternoon Edition (radio) and Pampanga News Now (online).

For the individual category are Ma. April Mier (print – Philippine Daily Inquirer), Lourd John Diaz (radio – Aksyon Radyo Bacolod), and Thony Arcenal (online – News C).

The awardees were nominated by the state colleges and universities where they are based and underwent preliminary screening by the Regional Screening Committee composed of the Regional Development Council, PIA, and organization of SUCs. After the regional screening, the winners were endorsed to the National Screening Committee composed of representatives of the PNVSCA, PIA, Philippine Association of State University and Colleges, and Mariano Marcos State University.

The BMA was conducted back-to-back with the awarding of the 2023 Search for Outstanding Volunteers.