THE BusinessMirror, the country’s leading business newspaper, made history last Friday.
For the first time, the Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards honored a journalist in two of its national categories.
It was also the first time for the BusinessMirror and for one of its youngest reporters Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas. The 21-year-old Arcalas bagged the Best Agriculture Feature Story (National) of the year and Best Agriculture News Story (National) of the year at the 11th Bright Leaf Awards.
This is the first time the Feature and News Stories of the Year were won by a single news outfit and a reporter since Bright Leaf began in 2007.
The article that won Arcalas a Best Agriculture News Story was his story, titled “PHL retraces journey toward food security.”
The story unfolded in four parts the country’s two-decade struggle to achieve rice self-sufficiency. The series was published from January 16 to 19 this year.
Arcalas’s three-part story, titled “Can 13-year-old manual save PHL from bird flu?” won for him the Best Agriculture Feature Story this year.
The piece focused on the country’s efforts to curb the bird-flu outbreak using its 13-year-old Avian Influenza Protection Program Manual of Procedures.
Arcalas, who is assigned to cover the agriculture beat, is also one of the youngest reporters to win at the Bright Leaf Awards. He submitted his entries while en route to Brazil to cover the Southern American country’s meat sector upon the invitation of its industry association.
“This year, as a judge, one comes away not only with an appreciation of the state of agriculture journalism in our country but, as always, with fresh knowledge of current developments,” literary writer and Philippine Star columnist Krip Yuson said in his speech at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City. Yuson is the head of the panel of judges for this year’s Bright Leaf Awards.
“All this makes for fascinating reading. And that is primarily what the Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards triumphs in: opening up many new doors to allow the bright light of knowledge to shine through,” he added. Yuson and the judges also honored BusinessMirror’s Tarlac-based photographer Laila Austria who won the Tobacco Photo of the Year for her entry, titled “Drying Tobacco,” which was published in May.
Three of her entries were shortlisted in two categories, including Agriculture Photo of the Year. This was the second year Austria joined the Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards.
This year’s winners also included Karren Montejo of ABS-CBN Davao for the Agriculture Story of the Year; Anselmo Roque of Punto Central Luzon for Best Agriculture News Story (Regional); John Glen Sarol of Philippine Rice Research Institute, Best Agriculture Feature Story; and Erwin Mascarinas of SunStar Cagayan de Oro, Agriculture Photo of the Year.
In broadcasting, Bright Leaf winners this year included DWRW 95.1 FM Pampanga as Best Agriculture Radio Program/Segment and ABS-CBN Regional as Best Agriculture TV Program/Segment.
“The importance of agriculture appears to escape public attention beyond the fundamentals, which explains why not too many regular publications allow for frequent space for agriculture journalism,” Yuson said. “But certainly, a higher degree of attention to the subject is mandatory for any modern nation that respects and fulfills its responsibilities to its people.”
Member of the panel of judges were Chito Lozada, deputy editor of The Daily Tribune; Albert Gamboa, business columnist of BusinessWorld; Marie Aubrey J. Villaceran, assistant professor of the University of the Philippines Diliman; Mandy Navasero, founder and CEO of Mandy Navasero PhotoPRO Studio; Jose Pablo Salud, editor in chief of the Philippines Graphic; and Pennie de la Cruz, desk editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The list of judges also included Dr. Elenia Pernia, dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications; Jake Maderazo, station manager of DZIQ; Rina Jimenez- David, columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer; Dr. Roland Dy, executive director of the University of Asia and the Pacific Center for Food and Agribusiness; and Remar Zamora, chief of the Photo Section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards was launched by Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. (PMPMI). The awards is now being given by the PMFTC Inc., the company created in 2010 through the merger of the PMPMI and Fortune Tobacco Corp.
Image credits: Roy Domingo