The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is a religious institute whose foundational charism essentially includes the work of evangelization through mass media. After the example of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941) who during his lifetime had founded one of the biggest publishing establishments in Poland as Conventual Franciscan, the Friars of the Immaculate intend to build upon his wonderful example globally, and in particular, in the Philippines.
Once such important initiatives was the establishment of the only Catholic radio station, that is non-commercial and non-profit, in the Bicol Region. It all started through their major superiors in Rome who commissioned three friars to check the possibility of establishing a radio station in the Philippines. These friars were, the Rev. Fr. Carmelo Pulayan, Fr. John Carlo M. Rosales and Fra. Gerard Buen. After an extended research, they saw the possibility of establishing a Radio Broadcasting System in Naga City– the very heart of Bicol. They began the work by finding assistance from local personalities who are involved in the field of media communication. They approached the help of Rev. Fr. James Reuter, SJ on June 5, 1994 from whom they sought diplomatic advice. Fr. Reuter was then, the president of the National Federation of the Catholic Broadcasters of the Philippines. He was happy to help them and assured them of his support. On June 8, 1994. The friars met with His Excellency Msgr. Teodoro Buhain who was the bishop-in-charge of ZNN Radio Veritas Global, the franchise of which was granted for use and affiliation for the projected radio station. Seven days later, the late Archbishop, Msgr Leonardo Z. Legazpi, OP, DD, the then bishop of Carceres, approved the project and propose radio station, and who “personally endorse this project… and their (friars) ardent desire to be in solidarity with the goals of my diocese for a renewed effort to have a radio station of their own…”
The positive results of the initial transactions triggered further zeal for the friars to advance the cause of the planned radio station. Solicitations to finance it began in the country and abroad while the missionaries continue to support the project thru their most important investment – the perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament! Like Our Holy Father St. Francis and St. Maximilian Kolbe, it began with nothing at hand…just a handful of zeal for souls. However, if Our Blessed Mother wishes a project to flourish, she sees to it that it will be provided by divine providence. And so, on September 8, 1994, feast of her nativity, the friars received an unexpected gift from a benefactor who had a great devotion to Mary and had an ardent desire to spread the Gospel to all. She gave a generous donation that defray the cost of entirely half the cost for the purchase of radio equipments. May Jesus and Mary be praised.
The friars chose “Caritas Mariae,” a latin phrase which means, “Charity of Mary” for the name of the new radio station: “Radio Caritas Mariae – 98.3FM.” The choice is not coincidental since it is expressive of the charism of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and the nature of the future radio station. The radio station was conceived to extend a mission of charity towards all, especially the marginalized both by material and spiritual poverty. But it is a “Marian” charity in a sense that every single broadcast should ultimately lead to the knowledge and love of God through Mary’s mediation. Hence, the “maternal dimension” of the radio station should translate into airwaves the very “Yes” of Mary at the Annunciation (Luke 2: 1?) through which the mystery of the Incarnation took place. In a sense, the redemption of the world hanged upon the “FIAT” or “Yes” of Mary. Analogously, there are people who may not have heard yet the Gospel or had scanty knowledge of the Faith; but it is the hope of Radio Caritas Mariae that they will hear the word of God and begin their journey of conversion.
By the 14th of November 1994, a gratuitous letter from Commissioner Simeon L. Kintanar of the National Telecommunications Commission was sent to the Radio Veritas Global Broadcasting System, Incorporated containing the official “permit to purchase” the Radio equipment. This ratification was indeed a big grace from the Lord since the future Radio Station was then under the franchise of the said broadcasting system. Eight days later, November 22, 1994 the feasibility study was made by the National Telecommunications Commissions based on the technical and economic liabilities of the future Radio. The study was done under the supervision of Commissioner Kintanar.
On January 5, 1995 a letter was released granting Radio Veritas Global Broadcasting System, Inc., the authority to import the various types of radio equipment. Twenty days later, the Broadcast Service Department of the National Telecommunications Commissions issued the paper containing the proper documentary quotations of the future radio station with all its particular data. Five days later, Radio Veritas Global requested the kind hearted OIC of the Broadcast Services Department, Engr. Carlos Saliuan the permit to amend the permit to purchase a Radio Transmitter given by the office of the Honorable Commissioner Simeon L. Kintanar of the National Telecommunications Commissions. The benevolent engineer granted the request without much difficulty to the great contentment of the friars.
March 1995 marked another stepping stone to the upgrading of the Caritas Radio-in-the-making.
- March 29, 1995. The Construction of the Radio Antenna began with a projected height of 66.15 meter high. The project was being spearheaded by Engr. Ignacio “Dante” Pagalan Jr. of Balazo-Pagalan and Associates stationed at Cebu City.
- September 6, 1995. The issuance of the height clearance permit was made by the Department of Transportation and Communication with No. 495-95.
- October 4, 1995. Feast of St. Francis. The National Telecommunications Commissions issued the permit for test broadcast with the final specifications of the much awaited Radio Station namely DWMM – 98.3 5KW.
- December 1995. The Pagalan Antenna Project was nearing its end. The tower was then ready for painting.
The rapid pace of the development of Radio Caritas was indeed a striking one. Much to the surprise of its critiques, the silence of the on-going construction was suddenly broken at the outbreak of its inauguration. On January 20, 1996. His Excellency Monsignor Leonardo Legaspi, OP, DD, celebrated the inaugural Mass at the Caritas Center. That day historically marked the realization of a seemingly impossible mission catered to the three friars. Radio Caritas Mariae is now a real entity in the world of arts and communications.