Midland Story Wins Best Feature In Bright Leaf Journalism Award

BEST REGIONAL AGRI FEATURE STORY Baguio Midland Courier staff member Hanna C. Lacsamana receives her trophy for winning the Best Agriculture Feature Story-regional award for her story “Making agriculture viable for millennials” during the 12th Bright Leaf Journalism Awards night last Nov. 16 in Makati City. It is the second time that Lacsamana won in the prestigious competition that honors journalists’ work that focus on the country’s agriculture sector.  Bright Leaf photo

The story, “Making agriculture viable for millennials” published in Baguio Midland Courier won this year’s Best Agriculture Feature Story-Regional category of the Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards.

The story, written by Courier staff member Hanna C. Lacsamana, was published as part of the paper’s 71st anniversary supplement in April and the reporter’s lone entry to the contest. It tackled the importance of the agriculture industry, making it attractive to college students, with Benguet State University in La Trinidad, Benguet making use of technology, computer software, models, and applications part of the college curriculum, in its effort to produce more progressive farmers using science and technology rather than just relying on old practices.

Lacsamana, who received the recognition during an awards ceremony at Fairmont Hotel in Makati City on Nov. 16 along with the other winners of the 12th Bright Leaf Awards, first won a Bright Leaf award in 2015 for Best Agri News Story-Regional.

In 2014, Courier editor-in-chief and lensman Harley Palangchao also bagged the Agriculture Photo of the Year major award for his front page photo, “Frostlandia” and the Best Agriculture News Story-Regional for his story on the sad state of Mount Data National Park in 2012.

Other winners this year include three Northern Luzon journalists, which swept regional and major awards. Karlston Lapniten of the Baguio Chronicle was conferred the Best Agriculture News Story-Regional for his story, “Brewing enough coffee for the Filipino Cup.”

Wilfredo Lomibao of Philippine Daily Inquirer claimed his trophy for Agriculture Photo of the Year with his winning photo titled “Pond Harvest” that captured fishermen in one of the fishponds in Dagupan City that grows Bonuan bangus.

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

The Tobacco Story of the Year plum went to SunStar Pampanga’s Ian Ocampo Flora for his article entitled “Is tobacco the next ‘miracle crop’?”

The five-part in-depth discussion about rice of Henrylito Tacio of Edge Davao brought home the Agriculture Story of the Year Award for “The grass that feeds Filipinos.”

Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas of Business Mirror brought home two trophies, 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 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.”

For Best Agriculture TV Program or Segment, Agri Tayo Dito of ABS-CBN Regional Network was named winner for their four-part series on biotechnology.

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.

Victoria Conde of Rappler won the first Best Online Story award for “How beekeeping helped a Sorsogon coconut farm.”

Almost 600 entries competed 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.

This year’s panel of judges was composed of 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 chair of the board of judges.

Farmer, entrepreneur, and social media celebrity Nico Bolzico was the program’s keynote speaker.

Delightful Factoids Found In Agriculure Journalism

The 12th Bright Leaf Agricultural Journalism Awards were given on Nov. 16 at the Fairmont Makati Hotel.

The top four winners were: Henrylito Tacio of Edge Davao with “The Grass That Feeds Filipinos” as Agri Story of the Year; Ian Ocampo Flora of Sun Star Pampanga with “Is Tobacco the Next ‘Miracle Crop’?” as Tobacco Story of the Year; Wilfredo Lomibao of Philippine Daily Inquirer with “Pond Harvest” as Agri Photo of the Year; and Erwin Beleo of The Star Northern Luzon for “Chili Only” as Tobacco Photo of the Year.

Other winners were Ma. Victoria Conde of Rappler with “How Beekeeping Helped a Sorsogon Coconut Farm” for the new category of Best Online Story; Karren Montejo of ABS-CBN Davao with “ATD: Biotechnology Series” for TV Program/Segment; Marilu Manar of DZND Kidapawan with “Vermi Composting” for Radio Program/Segment; Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas and Cal Ordinario of Business Mirror with “Snapshot of Rice Consumption Data Remains Grainy as Pinoys Grapple with Supply, Prices” for News Story — National; Karlston Lapniten of Baguio Chronicle with “Brewing Enough Coffee for the Filipino Cup” for News Story — Regional; Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas of Business Mirror with “Fowl Farmers’ Fears Persist 1 Year After Bird Flu Flare-up” for Feature Story — National; and Hanna Lacsamana of Baguio Midland Courier with “Making Agriculture Viable for Millennials” for Feature Story — Regional.

The judges’ panels this year were composed of Sev Sarmenta, Josefina Dela Cruz, Edwin Sallan, Rina Jimenez David, Francis Abraham, Isabelita Reyes, Marby Villaceran, Rem Zamora, Bong Osorio, Albert Gamboa and Jake Maderazo.

Opening remarks were delivered before the awards presentation by freshly installed PMFTC president Lawrence Chew of Singapore, looking much like a fresh college graduate, and External Communications Director Varinia “Bayen” Elero Tinga.

Guest of honor Nico Bolzico then rendered an informative presentation as keynote speaker, on “Connecting Farmers Through Technology.” He grew up in a cattle farm in a small town in Argentina, and earned his Math and Economics degree from the Universidad de San Andres in Buenos Aires, then tacked on two master’s degrees — one in Global Finance and Capital Markets, and another in Global Banking.

Coming to the Philippines seven years ago as a young farmer, he established Siembra Directa Corporation and LM10, seeking to elevate local agribusiness with innovative technologies, development of new productive possibilities and refined experiences in agriculture. Expansion introduced other companies: Bolzico Beef, which imports beef from Argentina; Vienova Philippines, which produces all-natural animal feeds; Precision Agriculture, for improving idle lands; and Genex Biotech Group, which aims to boost dairy and beef production by bringing advanced livestock genetics into the country.

As a farmer, businessman, and model, Nico Bolzico has also become a social media influencer and a celebrity.

For my part, I spoke of my experiencce as chair of the judges for the second straight year, and ten years in all as a BLAJA judge. Following are excerpts from my speech:

The winning entries easily capture our interest, such as when we learn of the world-class Filipino creation of chocolate by way of exemplary cocoa production.

As fascinating is learning of how certain stingless native bees, called “kiwot,” are so tiny that they can penetrate coconut flowers, thus making them excellent pollinators. At the Villa Corazon farm in Bulusan, Sorsogon is a seven-hectare coconut plantation that uses these bees to help the farm increase its yield by 35% to 50%.

We are surprised to learn that our country is actually the fifth top consumer of coffee in the world — this according to a report that also says we are the fourth largest total coffee importer (of combined soluble and green coffee beans), and — get this — the world’s top importer of soluble or instant coffee.

There’s good news that the conduct of “chawa,” a time-honored indigenous agricultural management practice that fosters sharing, has kept our famed Banaue Rice Terraces from falling off the Unesco World Heritage Site list.

Then there is the Philippine-bred tilapia that has been called the “miracle fish” or “superfish” — an accolade earned upon its presentation by Filipino scientists in an international conference in Wales some years ago.

This leads us to the question of whether we should stll fear GMOs or start listening to science. Increasing evidence and arguments raised by scientists appear to suggest the latter option.

Among the entries dwelling on the GMO question, I’ve learned that “biotechnology is involved in the process of giving us patis, soy sauce, and nata de coco, among other popular products.”

We might as well cast away fears about GMO as radical protest garbage. Speaking of which, I have also learned that the trash problem in urban households can now be addressed by way of vermi composting with the introduction of the African Night Crawler or ANC Dormitel, which was discovered by an agricultural technologist from Kidapawan City.

So many wondrous delights, even as just info tibdits, come our way when judging the entries to the Bright Leaf Agricultural Journalism Awards contest.

May it continue and thrive for many more years, well beyond the time when indeed we may find ourselves self-sufficient in both coffee and rice production — if only to assure ourselves of a hearty breakfast, before our first smoke for the bright new day.