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Church-run radio station aids Philippines typhoon victims

Misereor and World Vision International launch innovative project

<p>A victim of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City stands beside a wall with his message for other survivors. (Photo by Joe Torres)</p>

A victim of Super Typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City stands beside a wall with his message for other survivors. (Photo by Joe Torres)

  • Ronald Reyes, Tacloban City
  • Philippines
  • May 13, 2014
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When Super Typhoon Haiyan knocked out the Church-run DYDW-Radio Diwa on November 8, 2013, radio broadcaster Leo Ladan lost his livelihood and more.

"If there is no radio, there is no work for me, and I will have no other place to go," said Ladan, 44, who had been with the station for more than a decade.

A new lease of life, however, came for Ladan and other broadcast journalists in the devastated province of Leyte after Misereor, an aid organization of the German Catholic bishops, and World Vision International established "Radyo Abante," a radio channel that covers Haiyan-hit communities.

"Going back on air gave me confidence that I can rebuild our home and put my family back on their feet," Ladan told ucanews.com. Ledrolen Manriquez, coordinator of the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network that looked for donors for the station, said Radyo Abante aims to provide temporary livelihoods to journalists affected by Haiyan while serving as a communication channel between aid agencies and affected communities.

"We are only meant to operate on a short-term basis. At the moment, we have plans to operate for six more months," Manriquez told ucanews.com. "We're tight on budget." 

She said the next phase of the "humanitarian media project" is the production of a newspaper and short videos that will be posted online.

Station manager Fred Padernos, who has worked as a radio broadcaster for 20 years, named the station Radyo Abante or Forward Radio because for him Tacloban and the other areas hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan "have nowhere else to go but forward".

He said the station’s goal is to bridge the communication gap between various aid agencies, the government and victims.

"We have a proactive approach that makes a difference to our listeners who provide us with information through text messages and phone calls," Padernos said.

Ladan, meanwhile, said that the idea of a humanitarian radio station encouraged people to talk about the needs of their communities that are relayed via the radio station to aid agencies.

Radyo Abante started broadcasting on January 13, after Padernos, Ladan and their colleagues underwent a training workshop on humanitarian broadcasting.

Padernos said typhoon survivors need to be informed and communication "remains vital in maintaining transparency and efficiency in rebuilding the devastated areas".

Meanwhile, a private foundation has launched an initiative to pay tribute and recognize the "tenacity and unparalleled courage" of journalists who covered Haiyan's devastation last November. Among those who will be honored on May 19 are four Aksyon Radio broadcasters who lost their lives when waves swept away their radio station last year.

"While they knew of the potential danger that the typhoon was bringing before it hit the country, they held fast and covered the event," said Debbie Sy, executive director of SM Foundation Inc.

The foundation launched the "S.U.P.E.R. (Salute to Unparalleled People, Endeavors and Resources) Awards for Media" to honor the "bravery and sheer commitment of members of the media to their chosen profession".

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