CHRONICLING the travails of a region replete with historic and contemporary significance is no walk in the park. Doing this role for 19 years and counting is a feat worthy of praise.

Throughout its relatively long existence, and amid organizational highs and lows, SUN.STAR-CAGAYAN DE ORO has served as beacon of press freedom in northern Mindanao.

Too, it is among the very few community newspapers in Mindanao that consistently strived to cultivate local understanding about the so-called Bangsamoro Question that underpinned over four decades of Moro rebellion.

Traditionally, what we know about the Moro conflict is tempered by the reportage of Manila-based news organizations. Hence, our understanding of the problem is framed through a prism that is distant and detached from our daily realities and experiences. This is very sad because the conflict is practically within our extended regional neighborhood.

The challenge of cultivating greater consciousness about the social, political, economic and cultural underpinnings of Mindanao is still as ringing as ever. While a succession of negotiated political settlements have been reached by the government and Moro rebels, these are no assurances of peace and a definite end to the conflict. Rather, these provide the interesting context to unfolding events that a news organization of SUN.STAR-CAGAYAN DE ORO’s stature need to keep track.

The main condition that Mindanawons long to see happen is the restoration of cordial relations among the island’s diversity of peoples which soured throughout the period of Moro rebellion. This is a condition that a peace agreement cannot bring about. Mindanao historian Rudy Rodil repeatedly reminds that restored relations should be underpinned by “a knowledge of each other.”

Apart from formal instruction in schools, this cross cultural dialogue can also be effectively done through the mass media. Here, we hope to see SUN.STAR-CAGAYAN DE ORO blazing a trail in the next 19 years!

(Ryan D. Rosauro of Iligan-based Pailig Development Foundation, Inc. is the incoming secretary-general of the grassroots peacebuilding network Mindanao Peoples Caucus.)