SunStar Reporter Wins Top Plum In Brightleaf Journalism Awards
November 19, 2018

SUNSTAR Pampanga reporter Ian Ocampo Flora won, yet again, one of the top categories in this year’s Brightleaf Agriculture Journalism Awards held in Makati City over the weekend.

Flora won the Tobaccco Story of the Year. This is Flora’s fifth win in the said journalism awards and is set to receive the Oriental Leaf Award, Brightleaf’s Hall of Fame Award, in 2019.

Flora was judged winner for his article entitled “Is tobacco the next ‘miracle crop’?” that talks about all the practical and commercially viable uses that are being discovered for tobacco.

READ: Is tobacco the next ‘miracle crop’?

The award was given on November 16 in ceremonies held at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City.

Just this October, Flora was among this year’s winners of the Bantog: The Science for the People Media Awards given by the Department of Science and Technology — Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII).

Flora was conferred the regional media practitioner award during ceremonies at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. He is the lone winner for the said category.

Early this year, Flora won two major awards and a minor citation in this year’s Philippine Agricultural Journalists-San Miguel Corp. (PAJ-SMC) “Binhi” awards. He was awarded second place for Environment Journalist of the Year and third place for Agricultural Journalist of the Year and recognized for his articles in the field of environment, agriculture and climate change in 2017. Flora also won the Best Agri Story of the Year for his article “Water Crisis by 2025: Pampanga groundwater source in danger.”

READ: Regional water crisis by 2025: Pampanga’s groundwater source in danger

Other winners in Brightleaf Journalism Awards include the five-part in-depth discussion about rice, which took home the top prize at the 12th Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards Night. Henrylito Tacio of Edge Davao brought home the Agriculture Story of the Year Award for his series, “The grass that feeds Filipinos.”

Almost 600 entries competed for the chance to be called the best of the best in this annual competition that honors excellent stories and photos that are published, aired or broadcast in print, radio, TV, and for the first time, online.

For Agriculture Photo of the Year, Wilfredo Lomibao of Philippine Daily Inquirer claimed his trophy for “Pond Harvest.” In his winning photo, he was able to capture fishermen in one of the fish ponds in Dagupan City which grow Bonuan bangus, a milkfish variety that has put this commercial center of Pangasinan on the country’s culinary map.

Erwin Beleo of The Star Northern Dispatch was named the winner for Tobacco Photo of the Year for “Chill Only” which shows tobacco farmer, Josephine de Guzman, sewing tobacco leaves for a living in Barangay Patpata, Balaoan, La Union.

Baguio journalists swept the regional categories as Hanna Lacsamana’s article, “Making farming viable for millennials” published in the Baguio Midland Courier was chosen as the Best Agriculture Feature Story-Regional and Baguio Chronicle’s Karlston Lapniten’s “Brewing enough coffee for the Filipino Cup” was named Best Agriculture News Story-Regional.

Just like he did in 2017, Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas brought home two trophies, one for Best Agriculture Feature Story-National for “Fowl farmers' fears persist one year after bird flu flare-up: PHL poultry raisers on ground zero still coping.”

Jasper shares the Best Agriculture News Story-National trophy with colleague Cai Ordinario for their story “Snapshot of rice-consumption data remains grainy as Pinoys grapple with supply, prices” both of which were published in the Business Mirror.

For Best Agriculture TV Program or Segment, Agri Tayo Dito of ABS-CBN Regional was named winner for their four-part series on Biotechnology. While Malu Manar of DXND Kidapawan was named winner of Best Agriculture Radio Program or Segment for the “Vermi Composting sa Urban Household” episode of the program, Bida Specials.

And finally, Ma. Victoria Conde of Rappler won the first ever Best Online Story award for “How beekeeping helped a Sorsogon coconut farm,” a story about a disaster-vulnerable and poor village in the Philippines’ Bicol region that is now starting on the path towards resilience, food security, and sustainable economic growth with the help of “kiwot” bees.

Tasked with the job of selecting this year’s winners was a panel of judges composed of some of the country’s most respected names in photo, print, broadcast and online journalism, advertising and fashion photography and members of the academe.

They are Dr. Isabelita Reyes, Marby Villaceran, Francis Abraham, Edwin Sallan, Jake Maderazo, Rem Zamora, J. Albert Gamboa, Sev Sarmenta, Pennie Azarcon dela Cruz, Ramon Osorio, Rina Jimenez-David and Alfred “Krip” Yuson, who was also the Chairman of the Board of Judges.

Farmer, entrepreneur and social media celebrity Nico Bolzico was the evening’s keynote speaker. PMFTC Inc. President Lawrence Chew also addressed the crowd to talk about the value of agriculture to the country and PMFTC’s commitment to helping this industry.

The awarding ceremonies, hosted by ABS-CBN anchor Tony Velasquez, saw a retrospective of past photo winners that provided a colorful backdrop for the performances by dancers Ea Torrado, Julie Alagde and Biag Gaongen accompanied by Talahib People’s Music. (JTD)

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