When Rey Magno Teves was head of PIA Davao

Nov. 16, 2009

DAVAO CITY News that Rey Magno Teves passed away on the early morning of Saturday of November 7, 2009 was a surprise to all but his advocacy will always be there.

In 1986, immediately after the people’s power revolution, Teves was named head of the now defunct Office of Media Affairs and was appointed as the first regional director when the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) was created through Executive Order 100 by then President Cory Aquino.

It was during his term that this government information office played a role of not just being involved among the offices in government but one that catered to people hungry for information.

As head the new government information office mandated to provide people with adequate information to help them make better decisions and identify opportunities that could improve their quality of life, Teves said that the PIA must be strategically located and accessible to the public.

Under the PIA was the Davao City Information Center, then located along C M Recto Street. Teves had the offices facade mounted with photo display boards that carried messages and photographs of the different programs of the government and even how-tos and livelihood tips, as well as messages on occasions like Independence Day, Christmas and New Year celebrations. The displays depicted a theme and were changed twice a month.

The PIA office during those days was busy and frequented daily by ordinary people to read newspapers, by students doing research, and other government and private officers who met with the PIA team that Teves led for other programs and projects.

“We need to determine the information needs of the people,” Teves said in one of the meetings with his staff.

It was also during Tevess time that the work to professionalize the government information officers, communicators, and other media personnel was started. This was done through training and skill enhancement programs. Even PIA personnel were trained on telephone courtesy because Teves said it is basic among offices especially PIA to be courteous to whoever is on the other side of the line.

Teves was also the brainchild of “Serbisyo Sa Katawhan” in partnership with Radyo ng Bayan which up to now is being carried by the government radio station.

Kapihan sa PIA also started during Teves time, starting as a forum where issues in the community were discussed with representatives of concerned government agencies. Among the memorable discussions were that of the “Minamata Disease”, which awakened the public on the effects of mercury pollution to humans.

A strong advocate of Konsumo Dabaw, Teves would always remind his staff at PIA not to patronize junk food and to protect their kids by not buying such.

Teves also wanted the PIA staff to reach out to the public and a team would regularly go to the remote barangays to bring the messages of government to the people and get feedback from them. He personally assigned writers to interview personalities and even ordinary individuals for their success stories.

Former in-house photographer Alfredo Gonzaga and self-made artist Robert Ancog recalled how they had to crack their brains to come up with a display on an alternative Christmas in response to Teves challenge during the PIAs first Christmas.

During birthdays of PIA employees, Teves would come to the office with his guitar and sing for the celebrant one of his favorite Elvis Presley songs. After major activities, there was a sugba (grill) day. Employees would grill fish and some meat to share with each otherand also with media friends, such as the Peryodiko Dabaw now SunStar Dabaw who had a neighboring office.

All the years that Rey Teves was head of PIA-XI, it was an occasion filled with new learnings. He left PIA for Congress and as a farewell to him the staff honored him with a party dubbed as “Stib Goes to Congress”. After serving a term in Congress he worked first as board of director of the Land Bank of the Philippines.

On his death at 65, he was member of the board of the Development Bank of the Philippines representing Mindanao. At DBP he strongly pushed for the support of the marginalized farmers and fishermen and he was responsible for the recent DBP Roadshow held at the Marco Polo Hotel where bank officials met with the business sector of the island for possible partnership.

He was a convener and coordinator of the Mindanao Peace Advocates’ Conference, which plays a key role in the peace process. . He was managing director of the Technical Assistance Center for the Development of Rural and Urban Poor (Tacdrup). He was also involved with Kusog Mindanaw, Lihuk-Pideral-Mindanao, Citizens’ Movement for a Federal Philippines and the Mindanao Congress of Development non-government organizations

Messages of his passing were posted in Facebook and friends around the world offered their condolences and sympathy to his family. He was survived by his wife Mila and children Janinah T. Ventura, Karisma Angelina his siblings Antonio, Delia, Marilou T. Basfort and Gloria T. Tambanillo. (PIA)

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