Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA)
Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA)
The integral development of people through innovative learning processes using media technology
Established in 1975 as a nonstock, nonprofit organization, the Communication Foundation for Asia seeks the integral development of people through innovative learning processes using media technology and other forms of communication. The vision of the organization began in 1960 when its founder, Dutch missionary Fr Cornelio Lagerwey, MSC, and his mission partner and journalist Genaro Ong, published the Philippine Catholic Digest. They pursued a dream of building a center for social communications which was best realized through the incorporation of its mother institution, the Ang Tao Foundation, later known as the Social Communications Center–Development and Research Foundation, in 1965. CFA played a big role in Philippine society as it became a major multimedia production and training center in Asia and one of the first institutions that provided socially relevant radio and television programs, films, and publications at a time when the Marcos dictatorship controlled the content of media.
It first radio drama, Silahis (Ray of Light), 1973-74, is a weekly series of 30-minute dramas on land reform, civic education, social services, economic reform, and moral values. Among its notable radio dramas are the top-rating Panginorin (Horizon), 1974-75, based on real-life stories aired on DZRH; Isang Dipa … Langit (Heaven within Reach), 1979-94, directed by Rosanna Villegas and written by Julie Fe Navarro, about true-to-life stories showing the power of ordinary people to craft their destinies and aired for 15 years on DZRH; Buhay Lansangan (Street Life), a docudrama on the experiences of people on the streets trying to earn a decent living; Pasya ng Bayan (Public Judgment), 1986, a 48-part series that draws its stories on the principles of the preamble of the draft Constitution; Pananagutan sa Bayan (Public Responsibility), 1987, a daily-ending series of 54 episodes on the accountability of public officials and aired over 50 AM radio stations all over the country; Kapirasong Langit sa Lupa (A Slice of Heaven on Earth), 1979, a drama in 72 parts about the comprehensive agrarian reform program, aired on 50 radio stations; Bata, Karapatan Mo … (Child, Your Rights … Fight for Them), 1994, about the rights of the Filipino child; and Unos sa Paraiso (Tempest in Paradise), 2001, a weekly 30-minute series in 67 episodes about real-life stories sent in by listeners. CFA produced cassette magazine programs, such as Ugnayang Pilipino (Filipino Connections), 1983, a series sent to overseas Filipinos to keep them connected to the Philippines, and Landas ng Buhay (Path of Life), 1985, a series containing a half-hour drama on a Bible story.
Its first television production is Batang Pinoy (Filipino Child), 1980-81, an educational children’s show aired on MBS-4 that employed puppets in presenting stories with social and cultural values. Its other video productions include Bata, Saan Ka Patungo? (Child, Where Are You Going?), 1981, a documentary on underprivileged children; Lorenzo Ruiz, 1981, about the life of later-to-be-canonized Lorenzo aired nationwide via satellite on RPN 9; Kutitap (Sparkle), 1981-82, a children’s catechetical show focusing on Bible parables aired on RPN 9; Pambata at Iba Pa (For Kids and Others), 1983, a children’s program aired on IBC 13; Balikbayan (Homecoming), 1983, a six-hour miniseries aired on ABS-CBN about the dilemma of a returning US-based Filipino doctor who sees the need of rural folks for medical care; 11 Days in August, 1983, the only documentary made at that time that chronicles the 11 days of Ninoy Aquino from his assassination to his funeral; People Power: The Philippine Experience, 1986, a documentary that recorded the tumultuous events in the history of the country from the 1983 Aquino assassination to the aftermath of the 1986 EDSA Revolt; Beyond EDSA, 1987, an eight-episode television series commemorating the first anniversary of the EDSA Revolt and aired over Channels 4 and 13; TV Gospel Komiks, 1989, a one-hour weekly semi-animated series about real-life stories that carried messages from the Gospel; The Phenomenon, 1995, a video documentary about the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Philippines and aired on ABC 5; and Vote 4 U, 2007, a three-part reality TV game show for young audiences about their rights as responsible voters.
CFA’s first film, Batingaw (The Bells of San Jose), 1974, directed by Pablo Santiago, written by Ding M. de Jesus and Tommy C. David, and funded by Ford Foundation, centered on the dilemma of large rural families suffering from economic insecurity and uncontrolled population. Among the films it produced are People Media, 1982, a 15-minute critical examination of media, written and directed by Clodualdo del Mundo Jr, and Sugat sa Ugat (The Wounded Root), 1984, a feature film directed and co-written with Jorge Arago by Ishmael Bernal, about the issues that tear apart a traditional agricultural town threatened by the various forces of modernization, such as mining.
Among its print publications are Gospel Komiks, Jesus, KidSmarts, Pambata (For Kids), and Barkada (Group of Friends), which have become supplementary educational materials for elementary and high school students. In the 1960s, it produced the hard-hitting magazines Action Now and Ang Tao (The Man), but it lost its publishing license during the imposition of martial law in 1972. Books it produced include Komiks Magazine Scriptwriting, 1980, by Ramon Marcelino; Writing for Film, 1981, and Philippine Mass Media, 1986, by Clodualdo del Mundo Jr; Radio Drama Scriptwriting, 1983, by Noel T. de Leon; and Short Film, 1985, by Nick Deocampo. CFA also published From the Village to the Medium, 1976, edited by Demetrio Magalang; Communication Challenges of Our Time: An Asian Perspective, 1985, edited by Teresita Z. Hermano; Monograph on Development Communication, 1990, edited by Fely Soledad; and Film and Faith, 2008, and Film, Faith and the Church, 2009, by Peter Malone, MSC.
CFA produced music albums containing original compositions, which include Sigaw ng Kalayaan (Shout of Freedom), about fighting for justice, freedom, and peace during the 1986 EDSA Revolt, and Habang Buhay (As Long as There Is Life), about love and marriage.
CFA won awards from the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA), the highest of which was the Serviam Award conferred on the institution in 2012. The Serviam Award, launched in 2004, is a recognition of institutions and individuals who serve God through the media. It received two Hall of Fame Awards in 2010, for Gospel Komiks as Best Children’s Magazine, which it earlier won in 2003, 2007, and 2009, and the institution’s website, http://www.cfamedia.org, as Best Website for having won the award in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Best Radio Dramas were Pananagutan sa Bayan in 1988, Kapirasong Langit sa Lupa in 1990, Unos sa Paraiso in 2002, and Isang Dipa … Langit, several times from 1979 to 1994. Special awards were given to the cassette magazine series Ugnayang Pilipino in 1983 and Landas ng Buhay in 1986. For television, Kutitap won Outstanding Children’s Show in 1981, and Bata, Saan Ka Patungo? won a special award as part of CMMA’s celebration of the International Year of the Child.
In film, Batingaw won a Best Supporting Actor award for its actor Van de Leon at the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards in 1975, and Best Art Direction and an award for an outstanding expression of a theme of social significance at the 20th Asian Film Festival in Taipei in 1974. It was selected for screening in the Third Tehran International Film Festival in 1974. Sugat sa Ugat was chosen as an entry in the 1984 Berlin Film Festival and distributed internationally by a German film company. People Media won third place in the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines Short Film Festival in 1982. People Power: The Philippine Experience were shown also in Australia, Bangkok, Beijing, and in several countries in Europe.