Last year, the organizers did what they called "a roadshow." They hopped from one city to another: Lucena, Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Naga, Dagupan, Baguio, Vigan and Laoag.
The roadshow is part of its efforts to collecrt more entries in one of the country's top journalism competitions. The team personally invite local media practitioners to submit their entries and answer any questions they may have about the awards. This year, they are planning to go to various provinces and cities in order to reach more journalists to participate in the annual competition.
The annual competition, now on its ninth year, is called Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards. "The Bright Leaf Awards honors the most outstanding and relevant agriculture stories that were published or aired on radio and television," the press statement said. "It will also celebrate the work of photojournalists who successfully capture, in one snapshot, the essence and the heart of the agriculture industry in the country."
All in all, there are nine categories. However, only there are four major awards (in which winners will receive cash prize, iPad Mini, and trophy): Agriculture Story of the Year, Tobacco Story of the Year, Agriculture Photo of the Year, and Tobacco Photo of the Year.
The minor awards (winners receive cash prize and trophy) are Best Agriculture TV Program/Segment, Best Agriculture Radio Program/Segment, Best Agriculture News Story (National and Regional levels) and Best Feature Story (National and Regional levels).
Although not in the competition, there is an Oriental Leaf Award. This special award is given to those who have won a Bright Leaf Award in any category for five years. The Oriental Leaf Awardees become part of an elite group of individuals that comprise the Bright Leaf Hall of Fame.
In the past, only the winners of the major categories were given a free trip to an Asian country. But starting last year, all winners are given a chance to go on an Asian trip. The winners of last year's competition will go to Beijing, China next month.
Winning the Agriculture Story of the year in 2014 were Cherry Ann Lim and Liberty Pinili for their collaborative three-part series on "Fish in troubled waters," which appeared in a local daily in Cebu.
Gabriel Cardinoza got the Tobacco Story of the Year for his article, "Pangasinan farmers pin hopes on tobacco," which was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He also received Best Agriculture News Story for "Carabao vanishing breed in Pangasinan," which came out in Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Winner of the photos competition were Harley Palangchao of the Baguio Midland Courier for "Frostlandia" as Agriculture Photo fo the Year while Mauricio Victa's "Leaves of Gold" (published in Business Mirror) topped the Tobacco Photo of the Year. Both are from Baguio.
Winners in the television and radio competition were all from Mindanao. ABS-CBN's "Agri Tayo Dito" (hosted by Ruben Gonzaga and produced by Karren Verona) in Davao City won in the TV Category while "Panahon" (aired over DXND in Kidapawan City, Cotabato) got the nod for the radio category.
My article, "The prospects of swine industry in the Philippines," which appeared in Marid Agribusiness was adjudged winner in the Best Agriculture News Feature (National) while Flornisa Gitgano, of a Cebu-based daily settled for the regional level in the same category.
"The Filipino spirit is indeed admirable," said PMFTC Inc. president Paul Riley said in last year's awarding ceremony held at the Sunset Pavilion of Sofitel Manila. "Their dedication to the craft and livelihood whatever it may be, inspires respect. And their hard work and determination are stories that are meant to be told. And through the journalists' work, all these stories are being shared with the world."
The launching of the 9th Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards was done in Davao City a day after the Araw ng Dabaw.
Didet Danguilan, the project head of the awards, is encouraging all professional Filipino journalists residing in the country to join the competition as their way of sharing the successes of farmers through their stories ot the public.
"Their stories need to be seen, heard and appreciated. The Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards is the best way to achieve that," Danguilan pointed out.
In this year's competition, only those articles and features in print category and programs and segments in television and radio that are published and broadcast between September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015 are allowed for competition. The deadline for submission is September 4.
Once the entries start pouring in, they are turn over to a judging panel led by respected journalist and include members of the academe, photographers, editors, artists and columnists. These judges will do the task of reviewing every entry until finally the winners are chosen.
Since participation is free of charge, contestants can submit as many entries in any of the categories but no story can be entered in more than one category. Entries may be in English or any of the Philippine regional dialects provided they will have English translation of their works as soem of the judges are foreigners.
Bright Leaf is the name given to Virginia Tobacco because it turns into a vivid yellow when it is cured with intense heat. It is the variant of choice for manufacturing tobacco products.