Journalist lauded for keeping Filipino literature alive

Francisca Custodio wins Gawad Plaridel award for preserving cultural heritage
Journalist lauded for keeping Filipino literature alive

Award-winning Francisca Custodio has had a media career spanning 50 years. (Photo courtesy of Francisca Custodio)


A Filipino radio journalist has been recognized for keeping local literature alive on the airwaves in the central Philippine city of Tacloban, which was devastated by super typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

For promoting and preserving local literature through her radio program, Francisca Custodio received this year's "Gawad Plaridel," an honor bestowed on Filipino media practitioners who perform "with the highest level of professional integrity" in the interest of public service.

The award given by the University of the Philippines is named after Marcelo del Pilar, a Filipino hero and propagandist during Spanish colonial times.

"It gives us even more reason to rejoice that the award-giving body has singled out Ms. Custodio's effort to preserve our cultural heritage by airing in her radio programs the poetry of Eastern Visayas," said Msgr. Ramon Aguilos of the Leyte-Samar Heritage Society.

The priest noted that despite the decline of appreciation of local literature "here is one lady of the airwaves who has relentlessly exerted efforts to make use of the radio to resurrect this moribund form of entertainment."

"She has been the beacon for all media practitioners who want to follow her footsteps," said Aguilos.

Father Virgilio Canete of Palo Archdiocese said it is unfortunate that "colonial and millennial mentality" makes people in the provinces of Samar and Leyte "look down on our culture," referring to what many see as a decline in interest in local literature.

Custodio, whose media career spans 50 years was praised for reviving “Siday”, a traditional form of local poetry described as an important expression of regional identity.

Custodio's radio program has become a platform for local creative writers to showcase their poems that tackle social issues.

"Through the use of a form that is close to the people, she has turned the medium of radio into a two-way communication, where listeners are given opportunities to be heard as well," noted the prize-giving body.

"To God be all the glory," Custodio said when asked for comment. She said the award comes with a challenge to come up with radio programs that will move to action the people who have been affected by the Haiyan disaster.

"My message is that we do our best as we go about our work and commit ourselves to the advancement of our community and country," Custodio told

Custodio was also praised for her efforts in rebuilding her radio station after it was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan that killed at least 7,500 people in November 2013.


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