Bangon Zambo newsletter bridging gov’t and IDPs PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 11:54

When it was first published, the “Bangon Zambo” newsletter came under intense public scrutiny. Zamboangueños were surprised to see a local publication in Tagalog when the city is bent on promoting and preserving Chabacano.

Zamboangueños are known to take pride in Chabacano, a Spanish-based localized dialect widely spoken here. For generations, local administrations have fought to preserve it. This “tagalized” newsletter was a big blow to local cultural pride.

However, decision on the dialect to be used came from the people who are the newsletter’s primary audience – the internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“The IDPs, most of whom do not speak fluent Chabacano prefer Tagalog,” said Shiela Covarrubias, Zamboanga City public information officer. This is reinforced during all information caravans brought at the evacuation centers and transitory sites early this year, as Tagalog was spoken and understood during the forums between the resource speakers and the IDPs. Also, more than 70 percent of IDPs who provided feedback to Bangon Zambo still preferred Tagalog, while the others preferred Tausog.

One element in effective communication is the “tailor-fitting” of messages for the audience. If the newsletter was in a dialect that the IDPs are not fluent with, chances are they would not understand what it contains – Bangon Zambo’s purpose would be defeated. The entire publication would be a waste.

While Bangon Zambo does not aim to promote Tagalog over Chabacano, still it has to adapt to the immediate needs of its audience, the IDPs – people who, in spite of different cultures, faiths and traditions, have already called Zamboanga their home.

Bangon Zambo, a monthly publication contains news and development stories on the city’s rehabilitation and recovery efforts coming from the different humanitarian clusters.

The newsletter aims to provide the IDPs both with information that they need and a feedback mechanism to air to government and development actors what they still need. A comments page at the back can easily be cut away and dropped in suggestion boxes scattered at the transitory sites, to be consolidated for action by government and humanitarian actors.

Bangon Zambo was born out of the need of IDPs from last year’s siege for accurate information with regards to their rehabilitation and recovery. Until now, thousands of families are still homeless and scattered in several transitory sites in the city. They are eagerly waiting for them to step back to their communities once they are re-built, and while waiting, they need assurance through information that efforts are on the way to get them back to their communities.

“We need this information to be assured that the plans for the rehabilitation of our communities are pushing through. This is a link between us and government,” said Madz Hussin, an IDP and a Government Internship Program intern.

The publication is a product of the Communications Working Group (CWG) composed of the City Information Division under the Office of the City Mayor, various international humanitarian groups, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Philippine Information Agency