PDI correspondent, INQUIRER.net win Bright Leaf awards
MANILA, Philippines — A news article by longtime Philippine Daily Inquirer Bulacan correspondent Carmela Reyes Estrope on how her province protected its poultry farms from the avian influenza or bird flu early this year won the best agricultural news story (national category) in the 16th Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards.
The story, “Bulacan moves to protect poultry farms from bird flu,” focused on the challenges and importance of protecting poultry farms across the nation from bird flu, which has become a serious problem that affects the Philippine poultry market,” according to the Bright Leaf awards organizers.
Published in the Regions section of the Inquirer on Feb. 14, 2023, Estrope’s story came out following reports that migratory birds, such as egrets (Egretta garzetta), had caused the infection in the province, affecting its commercial and backyard poultry farms.
To give readers a clear picture on the ground, Estrope visited poultry farms like those in Sta. Maria town, which was among the hardest hit by the disease. Apart from interviews with local veterinary, agriculture, and government officials, Estrope looked at how chicken growers found ways to prevent an outbreak of the viral infection.
Estrope, who received her first Bright Leaf trophy during the awarding ceremony at Fairmont Hotel in Makati City on Monday, acknowledged her Inquirer editors for “mentoring” her and “honing” her writing and reporting skills.
Estrope, who has been covering Bulacan for the Inquirer for 25 years now, also thanked the organizers of Bright Leaf for “providing the avenue to be recognized and the inspiration to write agricultural stories that are worth telling the public.”
The Inquirer’s online news arm, INQUIRER.net, also won for a special report on the then-proposed law on vaping, which was recognized as the first best story in Tobacco Product Alternatives category.
The report, “Vape Bill: Unresolved debate on vaping’s risks, benefits now to reach Duterte’s table,” was written by Cristina Eloisa Baclig, a content researcher and writer for INQFocus, a channel on Inquirer.net dedicated to research, features, and special reports.
Willie Lomibao, the Inquirer’s Pangasinan-based photo correspondent and a previous Bright Leaf awardee, also bagged the “Agriculture Photo of the Year” for his photo published by the Sunday Punch, a weekly based in Dagupan City.
Lomibao’s winning entry, “Gold Harvest,” features a tobacco farmer diligently inspecting tobacco leaves that were being dried in his farm at Barangay Angio in San Fabian, Pangasinan.
Two other photos of Lomibao published by the Inquirer were among the finalists for “Agriculture Photo of the Year.” One was a front-page image of a salt farmer in Alaminos City and a Regions section banner photo of a tobacco farmer in Alcala, Pangasinan.
Another Inquirer correspondent, Bong Sarmiento, who covers the Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos) region in Mindanao, won the best tobacco story for Mindanews.
His story, “Unknown to Many, Tobacco Farming Thrives in Sarangani,” was recognized for tracing the history of tobacco which originated from Negros Oriental, after several farmers from the Visayan province migrated to the part of the south four decades ago, lured by the government’s program enticing settlers to Mindanao, referred to as “The Land of Promise.”
‘Sense of community’
The Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards is an annual journalism competition given to individuals and teams that created different agricultural stories in the Philippines.
“But beyond that, the Bright Leaf awards builds a sense of community and integrity among agricultural journalists and media practitioners, while still emphasizing the value of telling stories about Philippine agriculture and providing hope and inspiration to their readers,” the award-giving body said.
Each year, winners receive a variety of prizes, including cash, a trip to a destination in Asia, and a Bright Leaf trophy.
The Bright Leaf awards began in 2007, drawing less than a hundred entries for various categories for print, television, radio, and online platforms. It is organized by PMFTC Inc., the business combination between LT Group Inc. and Philip Morris International.
The award’s name, Bright Leaf, is derived from the Virginia tobacco leaf which turns into bright yellow after the curing process.
“From its humble roots, this year, we have over 500 submissions that made the cut, successfully showcasing a variety of topics in agricultural journalism in 12 categories,” the organizers said.