The best and the brightest in agri literature
THE PHILIPPINES STAR
By : ALFRED A. YUSON
The 2016 agriculture journalism winners
Presented at Sofitel Manila’s Luzon Ballroom on Nov. 24 were the 10th Bright Leaf Awards for Agriculture Journalism. It’s been a full decade that PMFTC. Inc. has helped ensure a wider and deeper appreciation of what ought to be considered a serious national undertaking.
As guest speaker Senator Francis Pangilinan mentioned in his remarks that evening, agriculture appears only to have provided unfortunate metaphors in the national imagination. He lamented how we often say that a poor student is “nangagamote,” and how “kalabasa awards” are given in jest to dismal performers, who may wind up as “pupulutin sa kangkungan.”
Yet another pejorative insult is “hampas-lupa” for a tiller of the soil. Unlike the Chinesa and the Thai who recognize and respect agriculture, the senator said we tend to look down on the backbreaking work that is farming’s basic element. As a result, even the science that improves agricultural practices receives scant attention, let alone the need for efficacious management.
“Media,” said Sen. Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture and food, “should play a critical role in changing the narrative on page one in our broadsheets.” He added that if he had his way, he would encourage every Filipino to learn to love farming, and to appreciate its attendant facets of enterprise and management.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan is the guest of honor and speaker at the 10th Bright Leaf Awards night.
Lastly, he cited how the Farmers and Fisherfolk Entrepreneurship and Development Act of 2016, or Sagip Saka Act, could change the paradigm and help increase the income of select farmers’ cooperatives. Through this multi-sectoral program, government would be able to create the environment conducive to investments in agriculture.
For now, it helps that the annual Bright Leaf Awards ensures better attention with regard farming practices, entrepreneurship, and the scientific practices that boost production.
For instance, the Best Agriculture Feature Story (National), written by Rizaldy Comanda of Manila Bulletin, “Open air museum in Ifugao presents culture, sustains native rice planting,” is about a museum at the Nagacadan Rice Terraces in Kiangan that is considered a “living cultural landscape” that helps the local community in continuing the traditional culture of growing the Tinawon rice variety.
For the Best Agricultural Feature Story (Regional), “Lives and terraces intertwined” by Mary Grace Nidoy of PhilRice Magazine focuses on the Bukidnon Iraynons, a community of indigenous people from Panay Island who have for the past 200 years protected the rice terraces built by their ancestors. Through the tribe’s diligence and hard work, the Antique terraces have thrived as their primary source of livelihood.
For Best Agricultural News Story (National), “Ilocos dragon fruit brings cure and income to many” by Freddie Lazaro of Manila Bulletin tells of the conversion of idle lots into plantations, making Ilocos Norte the dragon fruit capital of the Philippines. Dragon fruit is a zero-waste fruit with a high level of anti-oxidants and Vitamin C that can help prevent the formation of cancer cells, regulate blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.
For Best Agricultural News Story (Regional), “Saving Benguet’s vegetable industry” by Karlston Lapniten of Baguio Chronicle relates how the efforts of local agencies and the sending of young Benguet farmers to Japan for training have boosted hopes for the local agriculture industry to overcome resistance to adopting modern farming technologies and interventions.
For Best Agriculture Radio Program or Segment, Ariel Tejada with his program Agri Tayo Piddig aired on DWCI-FM had an episode discussing various methods for farmers to test the soil’s Ph level themselves, using materials that can be easily found at home, thus addressing Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol’s call for the updating of soil analysis data nationwide.
PMFTC Inc.’s external affairs director Bayen Elero Tinga and president Roman Militsyn
For Best Agriculture TV Program or Segment, Agri Tayo Dito producer Karren Montejo of ABS-CBN Davao had an episode featuring a visit to the town of Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental, where rich natural wonders and agriculture stories from the forests, farms and fisheries in this southernmost tip of Mindanao were explored.
The top prize of Agriculture Story of the Year went to Jujemay Awit of Sun Star Cebu for “Aging Farmers” — a two-part series on how local farmers are getting older each year, and how the Department of Agriculture, Department of Education and local schools are promoting farming as a viable, profitable and sustainable option for young Filipinos.
Another top prize, Tobacco Story of the Year, went to Ian Ocampo Flora of Sun.Star Pampanga for “So what is holding up the commercialization of tobacco by-products?” The article discusses the various by-products that can be derived from tobacco — with tobacco stalk as a good source of pulp for paper, tobacco scrap as an effective pesticide, and tobacco dust for aquaculture.
The Agricultural Photo of the Year award was won by Erwin Mascariñas of Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro for “Between Herons and Farming,” showing herons and Egrets taking to the sky after a meal of worms and insects while a farmer plows the rice field in the town of Magsaysay in Misamis Oriental.
The Tobacco Photo of the Year award went to Erwin Bello of Tempo for “A Farmer” — who prepares to water his tobacco farm as harvest season approaches in Balaoan, La Union.
Prizes for the top two stories and top two photographs are P50,000 and an iPad each, while the other winners receive P20,000 each, with all winners also invited to undertake a trip to a SouthEast Asian destination early next year.
The panel of judges was chaired for the fourth straight year by The Daily Tribune publisher and EIC Niñez Cacho Olivares, and included the following: Philippine Daily Inquirer’s senior news desk editor Pennie Azarcon-de la Cruz and photo editor Rem Zamora; UP Diliman assistant professor Marby Villaceran of the Department of English and Comparative Literature; ABC-5 editorial consultant and segment host as well as Philippine Star Opinion columnist Danton Remoto, who has also been recently appointed as Dean of Manila Times College; DZIQ Radyo Inquirer station manager and anchorman Jake Maderazo; Philippines Graphic Magazine’s editor-in-chief Joel Pablo Salud; advertising and fashion photographer Francis Abraham, who also serves as resource speaker on digital photography for Kodak seminars in SouthEast Asia; UP Diliman’s poet-professor Dr. Isabelita Orlina Reyes, who is also associate dean of Research, Creative Work and Publication; Bloomberg TV senior producer and Business World columnist J. Albert Gamboa; ABS-CBN’s news anchor Ces Drilon; and this writer, also representing The Star.
The judges present at the ceremony helped hand out the trophies to the winners, together with special guest, NTA administrator Ed Zaragoza, as well as PMFTC. Inc.’s Corporate Affairs director Richard James, External Affairs director Bayen Elero Tinga, and president Roman Militsyn.
The judges agreed that apart from harvesting a record number of entries this year, the Bright Leaf’s tenth edition drew a much higher quality of entries. This was undoubtedly the result of the yearlong roadshow of seminar-workshops conducted in various cities nationwide by PMFTC. Inc.’s Communications manager Didet Danguilan.