Milestones in CFA History

Father Cornelio

Fr. Cornelio Lagerwey, MSC

the founder of Communication Foundation for Asia



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1954

Dutch missionary Cornelio Lagerwey arrives in the Philippines on his way to Indonesia. He is given a temporary assignment to organize catechism classes for public school children in a Nueva Ecija parish in Central Luzon. He ends up staying in the country.

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1957

While raising funds for his work, Fr Lagerwey meets young journalist Genaro V. Ong, who becomes his soul partner in his dream of establishing a center for social communications.

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1960

Launching of the Philippine Catholic Digest.

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1965

Incorporation of the mother institution, the Social Communications Center, which goes on to produce many socially relevant publications and radio and TV programs.

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1968

Establishment of Ang Tao Foundation, later known as the Social Communications Center Development and Research Foundation (SCC-DRF), a private non-stock, non-profit organization. This becomes the Communication Foundation for Asia in 1975.

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1972

1972 Declaration of martial law. Fr Lagerwey and SCC top executives are arrested and SCC is closed for some time. Its license to publish is revoked.

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1973

Even under martial law restrictions, the SCC Development and Research Foundation launches new development communications programs for social reform. In 1975, SCC-DRF changes its name to the Communication Foundation for Asia to better reflect its plan to become a production and training center that can serve the region.

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1974

SCCDRF produces its first full-length movie, Batingaw, on the theme of responsible parenthood — the first Filipino developmental film released commercially. It wins a FAMAS Best Supporting Actor Award and a Special Award for Social Significance at the Asian Film Festival.

That same year the Foundation produces Panginorin, its first daily developmental radio drama series on a nationwide network. Aired on DZRH, it reaches No.1 in audience ratings. It is also the first radio soap opera to become the subject of a comprehensive international research study, conducted by Dr. Paul Hartmann of Leicester University, UK and commissioned by Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

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1975

SCC-DRF changes its name to the Communication Foundation for Asia to better reflect its goal of becoming a media production and training center that can serve the region.

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1976

Cornerstone-laying for a new CFA center behind the SCC building, offering facilities and programs for training, publications, radio and television.

More innovative media projects are created in the next two years, including cassette magazines for farmers, flipcharts and sound-slides for discussion and reflection, original pastoral music, illustrated publications and short films such as Manubu and Ganu and A Day in the Life of a Scavenger.

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1978

CFA’s distinctive brick building is inaugurated, making residential training seminars and conferences possible. There is a small printing press, as well as three new studios, designed and sound-proofed for video, music and drama recording.

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1979

In the “International Year of the Child,” CFA publishes its first monthly magazine for children — Pambata. The following year, Gospel Komiks is launched. CFA also produces a puppet series, Batang Pinoy, the first in its long line of TV programs for children. On radio, CFA launches Isang Dipa … Langit, which later becomes its most popular and longest running series on DZRH (until 1994).

Also in 1979, the Flying Team Project is launched after an international seminar on Paolo Freire’s pedagogical approach to communication. It is an ambitious initiative to train eight development workers in various communication skills so that they could go out and train community leaders in the field.

Genaro V. Ong passes away in December 1979. Later in 1980, Atty Ramon Tagle takes over as Managing Director until he leaves in 1984.

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1980

CFA launches Gospel Komiks to popularize Sunday gospels through contemporary comics stories. Distributed through elementary schools and parishes, it becomes CFA’s longest-running comics publication.

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1981-82

CFA starts publication of a series of training manuals on various development communication topics, including Philippine Mass Media, Radio Scriptwriting, Communication Research, Soundslides as Group Media, and others.

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1983

CFA organizes its first regional conference on Television Awareness Training, with a resource person from the TAT group in the US. This leads the way for CFA to launch subsequent Media Education workshops.

Also in 1983, CFA produces (and distributes on videotape) 11 Days in August — a special documentary on the phenomenal public response to the assassination of former Senator Ninoy Aquino (The historic event went mostly unreported in the controlled mass media).

With the support of Konrad Adenauer Foundation, scripting and pre-production begin for CFA’s second full-length movie, which is on the theme of agrarian reform.

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1984

CFA completes production of Sugat Sa Ugat, a film on the conflict between coconut land-owners and farmers, starring Christopher de Leon and Hilda Koronel, directed by Ishmael Bernal. It is shown nationwide in commercial cinemas and selected for exhibition at the Berlin Film Festival.

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1985

CFA and other alternative media NGOs organize a photo contest in preparation for the presidential Snap Elections. Winning photos and other notable entries are exhibited at CFA the following year.

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1986

The events leading to People Power are captured by CFA on video — from the snap elections to the EDSA uprising and the installation of Cory Aquino as president. The documentary People Power: The Philippine Experience is aired on two TV networks nationwide and sells several thousand video copies.

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1990

CFA organizes the first National Congress on Development Communication, attended by 70 devcom practitioners and academics.

Also that year, CFA organizes the first National Catechetical Congress. It forms the National Media Center for Catechesis the year after.

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1995

CFA founder Cornelio Lagerwey passes away.

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1998

With seed funding from Feed the Minds, Gospel Komiks Magazine is launched as a separate publication from Gospel Komiks for elementary schools. Intended for the high school audience, it is now CFA’s biggest-selling magazine.

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2002

Fr Filoteo Pelingon is elected CFA president while still on assignment as MSC General Bursar based in Rome.

Former Ang Tao Enterprises marketing manager Vic Gutierrez joins CFA as manager. He retires in 2005.

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2004

Former Electronic Media Director (at CFA from 1973-1986) Teresita Hermano returns to CFA after 18 years with WACC in London. She becomes CFA’s Executive Director the next year.

At the year-end Strategic Planning meeting, CFA decides on new strategic plans and identifies new priority themes for the next five years: poverty alleviation, citizenship education and environmental protection.

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2005

CFA revives project funding partnerships with Stichting Little Philippines and several other partners in the Netherlands and Germany. With the support of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), CFA launches a four-year program of communication seminars for diocesan media directors in cooperation with the CBCP Commission on Social Communication and Media. In line with its priority theme on poverty alleviation, CFA also initiates a three-year media program for Pondo ng Pinoy under the Archdiocese of Manila with the aid of Missio.

Also that year, CFA, in cooperation with various foreign embassies and women’s groups in the country, organizes its first ever international Film Festival to celebrate the Feminist Centennial Year in the Philippines. The Festival films are subsequently toured around the country.

CFA sets up the base for the work of ANWIC, the Asian Network of Women in Communication. In the next three years, ANWIC, in cooperation with CFA and WACC, conducts several Asian seminars on Media and Gender and school-based conferences on the Global Media Monitoring Project.

In December 2005, CFA launches its website, featuring news on its activities, history, mission, media products, training and facilities. It wins as Best Website at the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2007, and then again in 2008 and 2009.

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2006

Through the support of Stichting Little Philippines (SLP), CFA upgrades its radio and TV studios and acquires new digital equipment in preparation for upcoming production and training projects.

In the summer of 2006, CFA, with the support of EED (Church Development Service), conducts its first Peace Camp for Christian and Muslim youth, followed by workshops, video production and a nationwide exhibit of children’s art in 2007-08. From 2006 to 2013, a total of four Peace Camps and many more follow-up workshops and traveling exhibits are held.

CFA’s first Peace Camp video documentary Dear Peace highlights the experiences of the camp participants from the perspective of one Muslim and one Christian student. In 2009, Dear Peace wins an international human rights film award from Signis International and WACC (World Association for Christian Communication). More project funding partnerships are renewed with Misereor, Signis International and Feed the Minds.

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2007

CFA starts a series of monthly fora on green issues, titled “Coffeehouse Environmental Series” with the support of SLP. Experts from the academe, relevant government agencies and NGOs, the church and scientific community share their experiences on such issues as the mining controversy, climate change, and other timely topics.

CFA partners with the Parish-Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) for a six-year program to produce print and video materials on voters’ education and to organize seminars and conferences on media and the elections.

The first seminar on “Film and Faith” draws more than a hundred participants from church, NGOs and schools to CFA. Resource person is film reviewer Fr. Peter Malone, MSC.

Fr Filoteo Pelingon, MSC, returns to the Philippines after his long-term assignment in Rome, to take up his role as CFA president full-time.

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2008

CFA conducts its second Film and Faith seminar. At the same time, CFA returns to book publishing by producing the first in the series of books on Film and Faith by Fr. Peter Malone. From 2007 to 2012, CFA holds a total of six well-attended seminars on various aspects of Film and Faith and publishes the same number of books on the themes.

The CFA Training Department revives the Flying Team concept and offers various seminars to be conducted in the field. Seminar topics include Social Media for Evangelization and Cyberwellness, which are very popular among schools and parishes.

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2009

CFA holds its second Peace Camp, this time for more Christian and Muslim students from four high schools in Metro Manila. There are follow-up workshops, a traveling exhibit and a final video in the next year. Because of high demand from participants, CFA’s annual Catechetical Congress is again held in two batches in the summer months of April and May as has been the case since 2007.

In June, CFA launches a new bi-monthly magazine, Gospel Now. Intended for high school level readers, it quickly builds up a subscription base. With the support of Misereor, CFA ties up with the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) to help organize youth leadership summits as part of CFA’s program on good governance and engaged citizenship. CFA also launches its first national song-writing contest on this theme.

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2010

CFA garners two Hall of Fame Awards from the Catholic Mass Media (CMMA) for having won three times in the same category. The honors go to Gospel Komiks Magazine as Best Children’s Magazine and CFA’s web pages as the Best Website.

In cooperation with PPCRV, CFA produces comics, booklets and posters, and holds workshops on voters’ education before the 2010 presidential elections.

With support from a new partner based in the Netherlands, CFA organizes the third Peace Camp in 2010. This time, it includes young students from one high school in Mindanao.

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2011

In an assembly of several thousand parishioners and church workers, the Pondo ng Pinoy Foundation launches CFA’s Tilamsik TV series Season 1 DVD and its one-hour video documentary. Also unveiled is CFA’s photo exhibit of selected Pondo projects.

The fifth Film and Faith seminar conducted by Fr Peter Malone is on Asian Spirituality in Film, attracting a number of regional participants. The sixth Film and Faith seminar is held the next year, on Film and the Sacraments.

A new local funding partner, Metrobank Foundation, supports the acquisition of new books, video and other resource materials to upgrade the CFA library.

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2012

CFA taps another local funding partner, the Foundation for the Philippine Environment, to organize a contest for the best high school student initiative for environmental protection. Results are announced in a program and exhibit at CFA the next year.

The 4th Peace Camp is successfully held in June, with 40 students participating from two schools in Metro Manila and two from Cotabato. The theme is “Our Dream: One Nation in Peace.”

In September, the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) confers on CFA its highest annual honor -- the Serviam Award -- for “outstanding service to human development and spiritual uplift” through the innovative use of mass media.

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2013

In cooperation with PPCRV and CEAP, CFA launches a nationwide MTV contest on the theme of Good Governance and Engaged Citizenship.

In September, CFA starts its fourth Peace Camp Traveling Exhibit which would tour various NGO centers and schools in cities all over the Philippines. Like the previous Peace tours, this one reaches thousands of viewers and engages them in discussions of peace in their lives.

Former Publications director Noel de Leon takes over as Executive Director in October upon the retirement of Terry Hermano.

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2014

CFA wraps up its Songwriting and Music Video Making Contest with a lively concert at the CFA grounds. It features professional singers and bands who perform the award-winning compositions.

In preparation for Pope Francis’ visit to Manila in January 2015, CFA produces a comic book titled A Pope Named Francis. This illustrated story of the Pope’s life and ministry becomes a hit with schools and parishes. The following year, it wins a special citation from the Catholic Mass Media Awards.

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2015

In cooperation with Family Matters on TV, CFA produces a docu-drama special, Mga Pastol sa Sabsaban: Pagninilay Para Sa Pagdalaw Ni Pope Francis, to explore what Filipinos would tell Pope Francis if they had the chance to talk to him. This later wins the Long Film Award from the 3rd Pasig Catholic Mass Media Awards.

In June, CFA’s third full-length movie Maskara has its premiere after qualifying for the New Filipino Cinema section of the World Premieres Film Festival. It explores the themes of truth-telling and whistle-blowing in the fight against corruption.

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2016

Gospel Komiks TV: Mga Kwento ni Ate G starts production as a 30-minute children’s show centering on values derived from Gospel stories, using storytelling, art and animation to bring stories to life.

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2017

CFA reorganizes its operations. Pie Mabanta-Fenomeno, former Electronic Media director, is appointed Vice-President for Operations, as Noel de Leon retires at the end of the year.

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2018

CFA celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding.

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