In the age of modern technology and new media, people can hardly imagine what the world of media looked like 50 years ago…
How far are we able to adapt to the changing realities of our time?
Radio Veritas Asia traces its story back to 1958 when more than 100 bishops from all over Asia and Australia assembled in the Central Seminary of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila under the presidency of Cardinal Gregory Peter XV Agagianian, special papal delegate, to reckon the sign of the times.
To remedy the restrictions on the Word of God and on Church by Communism, they resolved to establish a radio to nourish the Catholics in China, Vietnam and Korea. The airwaves crossed the boundaries and ministered to the people affected by Communism.
Pope Pius XII has conceived the idea of a continental Catholic Station. After his death, the idea was carried out by Pope John the 23rd.
Two years later, in 1960 pursuing the idea of a church radio station for Asia, His Eminence Rufino Cardinal Santos took up the idea because the Philippines being the leading Catholic country in Asia seemed to be ideal for such a radio station, which was somehow at the doorstep of China.
During this year, nobody knew how to plan and finance the project but divine providence apparently came forward in the person of Dr. Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Cardinal Rufino Santos obtained assurances from Chancellor Dr. Konrad Adenauer for financial assistance. The German government committed to pay 75 percent of the expenses to put up the radio station.
Realizing the significance of the impact of such a Radio Station to the Asian Church, the Vatican’s Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, the German Bishops, and groups such as the Aid to the Church in Need, Misereor, and the Holy Childhood Association under Missio, banded to realize the project.
In 1961, to realize this mandate, Cardinal Rufino Santos set up the “Philippine Radio Educational and Information Center” or PREIC as the legal body for planning and construction of the project.
In 1964, the radio franchise of the University of Santo Tomas was purchased and the Archdiocese of Manila allocated a property given by the Jose Yulo family in Fairview, Quezon City, for the new project.
Architect Jose Maria V. Zaragoza designed the layout of the building for the Quezon City offices and broadcast studios.
The Asian bishops wanted this radio station to stand for truth and hence named it Radio Veritas until 1990.
After years of hard work and painstaking task of building and streamlining, test broadcasts started in 1967, and on April 11, 1969, the first overseas broadcast via shortwave technology began with two 100 KW transmitters. The opening was highlighted by the celebration of the Eucharist led by Papal delegate Antonio Cardinal Samore and Rufino Cardinal Santos of Manila.
His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, the first pontiff to visit the Philippines, graced the inauguration of the station through a Radio Vatican broadcast.
He expressed that with God’s help the bishops of Southeast Asia would bring the endeavor to full achievement by echoing the teachings of Christ.
In 1974, during the FABC first General Assembly, FABC formally undertook responsibility for the operations and financing of the station.
In 1979, the FABC decided to set up a bigger transmitter site in Palauig, Zambales province, and commissioned PREIC to acquire a new site of at least 200 hectares.
Three transmitters with a capacity each of 250 KW planned from the generous contributions of the German government, the Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Josef Cardinal Hoeffner, a Jubilee gift to the Cardinal by the faithful of Cologne.
The overwhelming support of foreign benefactors would continue for decades.
Radio Veritas Asia has always been close to the heart of the Papacy.
In February 1981, Pope John Paul II visited the station and expressed his personal support for the project.
More than Ten years later in 1995, Pope John Paul II presided the 25th anniversary celebration of Radio Veritas Asia in Manila. He again praised the role of Radio Veritas Asia as the voice of Asian Christianity.
Through the years of dedication and collaboration with friends and benefactors, Radio Veritas Asia has been growing in the mission of committed service to the peoples of Asia, initially through 15 language broadcasts.
Later on, 22 language services were able to serve the People of God in Asia and around the globe up to this day.
Vietnamese – February 1969
Filipino – 1969
Mandarin – August 1976
Sinhala – June 12, 1976
Telugu – August 1, 1976
Tamil – November 1, 1976
Urdu – August 1987
Myanmar (Burmese) – November 13, 1978
Bengali – December 1, 1980
Karen Sagaw – April 1, 1982
Karen Pwo – April 1, 1982
Kachin – November 16, 1982
Hindi – July 3, 1988
Zomi-Chin – August 1996
Hmong – December 1996
Khmer – January 1, 2011
Chin-Hakha – 2011
Chin-Teddim – 2012
Chin-Mindat – 2012
Chin-Falam – 2012
Kachin-Rawang – October 2018
Kachin-Lisu – April 2018
Several languages services, however, stopped broadcast in recent years.
Thai – February 1969-December 17, 1982
Russian – October 1989
English – 1976-December 30, 1989
Korean – April 1980-December 31, 1991
Japanese – December 1976-June 30, 1992
Ukrainian – July 1992-December 1993
Cantonese – January 1, 2000-February 2, 2005
Indonesia – August 15, 1975-December 30, 2007
Production centers were set up in the target areas to help produce programs and to provide forums of dialogue with audiences, Christian and non-Christian alike.
A continuous increase in Asian audience from India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Taiwan and Vietnam was noted.
The listeners’ letters were of great source of encouragement for RVA, and it is relieving to know that the programs are slowly sipping into the hearts of our audiences.
Radio Veritas played a major role in the most critical period of Philippine history during the 1986 People Power Revolution.
A couple of trucks rolled in with armed men who smashed the Radio Veritas transmitters in Malolos Bulacan, and paralyzed the broadcast.
But with a mobile transmitter, RVA carried the voice of Jaime Cardinal Sin who appealed to people to go out in the streets and join the revolution.
The peaceful movement immortalized Radio Veritas Asia all over the world for its role in advancing democracy.
In 1990, the domestic and overseas services were separated into two distinct independent units: The Filipino broadcast became the commercial AM radio called Veritas 846 to differentiate itself from the overseas service Radio Veritas Asia.
Veritas 846 came under the supervision of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines while the overseas service later came under FABC-OSC.
True to its name, Radio Veritas Asia has become a facility for Asians by Asians.
A dream realized, a commitment renewed.
Today, RVA continues with its mission with more zeal..
While its mission remains the same, Radio Veritas Asia seeks to read the signs of the times and looks for the fresh ways to announce and share the Good news of God’s kingdom to Asians…
In today’s technology-driven world, the radio apostolate cannot afford to be left behind.
This was a big challenge to RVA.
On August 17, 2007, the Management Council of RVA took the decision to introduce digital audio recording technology.
On December 7 of the same year, the new organization was blessed by Fr. Hans Langendorfer, General Secretary of German Bishops’ Conference.
To make full use of its digital potential, RVA set up an Information Systems Office on the same year. ISO diligently introduced website, web-streaming through the internet.
This development made possible the shift of language producers to their target areas from Manila.
From January 2012, the following language services were decentralized: Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Sinhala and Hmong.
RVA now reaches global Asians…
In October 2015, during its General Assembly with the theme: “RVA – Renewing Commitment, Sharing Christ to Global Asians: Perspective and Challenges.”
The moderator during the assembly was Mr. Sean Patrick Lovett of Vatican Radio with the distinguished representative from our German partner agencies, Mr. Frank Kraus and Mr. Michael Unland.
The General Assembly mandated RVA to become a digital radio station before the celebration of its Golden Jubilee in April 2019.
As RVA struggles through the transition from shortwave broadcasting to full digitalization, and as we look forward to its golden anniversary, we realized that we need a roadmap for its true direction.
Thus, in 2016, RVA revisited its mission-vision statement. The new General Manager of RVA, Fr. Victor F. Sadaya, CMF, facilitated the process of consultation with the FABC-OSC board members and all of its stakeholders.
Attuned with the spirit of RVA, the new vision, mission, values statement were presented and approved by the PREIC Board and FABC-OSC General assembly in Vietnam and during the Plenary Assembly in Sri Lanka in December 2016.
As RVA continues to re-invent itself as an Online broadcast platform, the challenges to its mission are many, foremost of which in the emergence of the digital world of instant communications not only of sound but also of images.
…Not just radio online but content suitable for web…
An ever-growing number of people in different parts of the globe now have access to mobile phones. It is indeed a very good opportunity to better serve global Asians.
The recent years have challenged many aspects of Radio Veritas Asia’s operations, the languages to be covered, the contents of the programs, the technical set-up, including the use of new technologies, and sharing co-financial responsibility among Asian partners.
Radio Veritas Asia will continue to fulfill its mission through the internet and through other media to enliven millions in Asia and Asians around the world.
As Radio Veritas Asia keeps abreast with development in information and communications technology, we look back and learn from the lessons of the past.
We call to mind the heroes of its conceptualization, those who served and left their marks in the institution’s memory, including the various agencies that rallied an extra mile for this remarkable and noble cause.
May God bless Radio Veritas Asia and enable it to adapt to the needs of the times as it continues to fulfill the command of Jesus to bring the Word of God to all corners of the earth.
References: RVA Primers; RVA old history books; 25th anniversary & 40th anniversary books; RVA brochures; language write-ups; RVA annual books (from 2011-2016) RV 40th souvenir books; Ruby history video; Fr. Raymond’s script on RVA; FABS-OSC articles