LIFE IN THE PLATEAU: Bukidnon is home*

By Walter I. Balane

We have decided to keep this celebration simple. We initially planned for a grander one but due to many constraints, we backed off.  

Still, with the simpler plan, preparations remained difficult.

We usually hold our events at the BSU Ethno-cultural Museum, one of our partners. Not today.The shift is symbolic – remnant of our desire for a grand celebration.  We were supposed to kick off our marketing campaign. We assert that this celebration, today, is the beginning of the successful years ahead of us.

Bukidnon News is now two years old. How time flies so fast.  Two years may sound so young for a news organization, but for us who worked on day to day basis pursuing community journalism, it was hard. Cruising through the last two years was probably among the hardest of my past 12 years in journalism.

We experienced so many difficulties. The questions never end: Who will be the reporters, who will be the editors, who will be the facilitators and researchers for our other projects, who will be the business movers, who will do what, among others.

If we found the who, the next question is how we pay them along with the needed investments in training and continuing education so they will know the how-to.

I think founding and launching Bukidnon News two years ago was the easier part. What really matters?  It is how to survive.

We are glad that sunshine also filled our days. It’s not always sad story. There were those who shared both items and vision. We are forever grateful.

In general, the past two years were times of baby steps, some accomplishments, but those were also times of frustrations, disappointments, and challenges.

Sometimes, I asked if we are making a dent in what we are doing because stress is unlimited and success is not yet clear.

We realized, however, that our experiences also reflect the situation of the communities we intend to serve as news people. If not worse, their case is deplorable.

How could we complain? It is a shameful and dishonorable act to falter and be discouraged.

In a training we attended recently, an environment official said they were able to investigate and arrest perpetrators of illegal logging in an area in Malaybalay City because they found a photo report of the same posted in our website.

To us, it was a simple gesture. We didn’t know someone would see it. But yes indeed someone did.

So there goes giving up.We may be abundant in frustrations and difficulties; but If we do, how are we helping?

Even with the claim of relative progress in the province, the real score is that more and more people are considered poor or are getting poorer,  according to official statistics from the government.

Just like the Bukidnon News experience, we believe that the sun shines through out the province. We continue to commit to cover Bukidnon’s good news – those who make us smile.

But we will frown continuously, too, for those who deserved to be frowned at.

Because Bukidnon is not a killing field or a crime scene. It’s not a treasure hunter’s nook or a wasteland.  This is not a place to abuse power. This is not a place to exploit the weak. This is not a place to destroy. This is a place for mutual respect.

This is a home.

Bukidnon News commits to report about this home through news and information like a steward.

Bukidnon is only entrusted to us. Let us do our share in keeping this home intact.

If we don’t, who will?

(*Opening remarks delivered in Cebuano during the second anniversary celebration of Bukidnon News at the Cool Breeze Function Hall, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon on September 19, 2013.)