November 22, 2018

Now it can be told.  Five days after I arrived in the United States, I got an e-mail from the secretariat inviting me to attend the awarding ceremony of the 12th Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards on November 16 at Fairmont Hotel in Makati City.

I was totally excited and surprised.  I know what it meant.  Unfortunately, I could not attend since I my return flight is still the last week of November.  And so, I suggested if my editor, Antonio M. Ajero, could represent me during the ceremony.

When it was approved, I immediately contacted AMA (that’s how we called Mr. Ajero; actually, it’s an acronym of his complete name).  But I cannot contact him and so I requested Bai Fauziah Fatima Sinsuat Ambolodto, our social media manager, to tell him.

To make the story short, AMA accepted it and so on the night of the awarding ceremony, he was there to receive the third trophy from the award-giving body launched by Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC), Inc. more than a decade ago.

“A five-part in-depth discussion about rice took home the top prize at the 12th Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards Night,” the press release said. “Henrylito Tacio of EDGE Davao brought home the Agriculture Story of the Year Award for his series, ‘The grass that feeds Filipinos.’”

In 2014, I received the same award – for Best Agriculture Feature-National – for the article on swine raising which was published in Marid Agribusiness Magazine.  The following year, I got another award – for Best Agriculture Feature-Regional – for a 3-part series on possible solutions for forthcoming food crisis, which was serialized in EDGE Davao.

“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,” the press statement said.

Ian Ocampo Flora, of Sun.Star Pampanga, won the Tobacco Story of the Year 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.  This is his fifth award and so he is likely to join the elite group of Oriental Awardees next year.

Journalists from Northern Luzon swept four awards.

Wilfredo Lomibao, of Philippine Daily Inquirer, was adjudged winner of Agriculture Photo of the Year 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.

The Star Northern Dispatch‘s Erwin Beleo 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 took the regional categories as Hanna Lacsamana’s article, “Making farming viable for millenials” 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.

Mindanao (two from Davao City and one from North Cotabato) managed to receive three awards.

Aside from me, “Agri Tayo Dito” of ABS-CBN Regional was named Best Agriculture TV Program or Segment, for its four-part series on biotechnology.  Like Ocampo, it will be named Hall of Fame recipient in next year’s awarding ceremony.

DXND Kidapawan’s Malu Manar, a previous winner, was named winner of Best Agriculture Radio Program or Segment for the “Vermi Composting sa Urban Household” episode of the program, Bida Specials. The same program earned her an earlier award given by the Catholic Mass Media Awards.

Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas, of Business Mirror, made the same record he did last year; two awards, one for Best Agriculture Feature Story-National for “Fowl farmers’ fears persist 1 year after bird flu flare-up: PHL poultry raisers on ground zero still coping” and another for Best Agriculture News Story-National trophy (which he shared with colleague Cai Ordinario) for “Snapshot of rice-consumption data remains grainy as Pinoys grapple with supply, prices.”

Rappler‘s  Ma. Victoria Conde 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 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,” the press statement said.

Consider this formidable list: 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.

The Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Award I received is the fourth I harvested this year.  In March, I won two Binhi trophies from the Philippine Agriculture Journalists, Inc.  Last October, I got a Bantog award, given by the Department of Science and Technology.

I bring back the honor and glory to God for the accolades I got this year!

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