New Baha'i radio station is officially launched in the Philippines
BULAC, Philippines — In a festive celebration featuring prayers, speeches, music and dance performances, and a "barrio fiesta" atmosphere, the Baha'i community of the Philippines officially inaugurated its new radio station on 26 November 2002.
Located in a rural district about 30 kilometers from the city of San Jose on the main island of Luzon, the station will feature programs designed to promote social and economic development in the community at large. It will also serve the Baha'i community in the region with programming designed to promote moral, spiritual, and human resource development.
"By using such means as interview, radio dramas, and discussion, we hope to stimulate the practice of consultation in the community at large," said Vahid Mockon, the station's general manager. "As such, we hope that the station will help in the formulation and implementation of community projects that promote the development of spiritual and moral capabilities in children and youth, provide farmers with access to scientific information about agricultural practices, and help to empower women, especially in the areas of primary health care and education."
Licensed since 19 March 2002, the station operates at 1584 kHz on the AM band, broadcasting at a power of 1,000 watts. Due to the flat topography of the region, it reaches a wide area encompassing the entire province of Nueva Ecija and a portion of Tarlac and Pangasinan provinces, with a potential listenership of more than 2.3 million people.
More than 300 people, including local officials and nearby residents, attended the inauguration ceremony. The event featured speeches by visiting Baha'i dignitaries and local officials, as well as performances by children and youth from nearby schools.
"We had a 'barrio fiesta' -- a village feast," said Antonio Toledo, chairman of the board of the Dawnbreakers Foundation, a Baha'i-sponsored development organization that operates the station. "Baha'is from the region cooked and served food for all 300 in attendance. And the atmosphere was definitely festive."
Local officials said they were pleased to have the station in their region. "We are very proud to have the new Baha'i radio station in our community," said Gloria Santiago, chairwoman of the Bulac barangay council. "I encourage everyone to support the station." (A barangay is the smallest governmental unit in the Philippines.)
Humaida Jumalon, a senior advisor -- Counsellor -- to Baha'i communities throughout Asia, explained that a major purpose of the station would be to help in the formation and organization of spiritual activities. Specifically, she said, the station would help to cultivate and encourage study circles, devotional meetings, and children classes.
"We envision the station to have a very big role in the promotion of these core activities," said Counsellor Jumalon. "For example, the station will be able to make announcements as to the time and place for children's classes, and this can help very much in consolidating the Baha'i communities in the area."
The station has also entered into a partnership with Phil Rice, a Philippine rice research institute, to provide up-to-date agricultural information to farmers in the broadcast region.
"They hope to do outreach to the community through the station," said Mr. Toledo, who is also a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Philippines, the governing council which established the Dawnbreakers Foundation and oversees its operation. "The primary industry in the region is agricultural, with rice, corn and onions being the principal crops. So the opportunity is very great."
Mr. Toledo said the station has been in the planning process for nearly 20 years. "It has been a long term process, in terms of finding a site, purchasing the land, arranging for permits, constructing the station, and outfitting the facilities," said Mr. Toledo.
"Another big hurdle was to obtain a government franchise from the national legislature," said Mr. Toledo. "Finally, in April 2001, legal authority to operate the station was received and signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The station is the seventh such Baha'i radio project in the world. Other stations, which are similarly oriented towards community service and development, are operated in Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and the United States, in rural South Carolina.
The station currently has a full-time staff of four. "As the project progresses and radio personnel and field volunteers gain more experience, it is hoped that the station will begin to offer short-term courses, seminars and workshops to benefit development communication aspirants and community development workers," said Mr. Mockon.