BM clinches top prize in Bright Leaf awards

BusinessMirror bagged the Agriculture Story of the Year prize in this year’s Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards.

On Tuesday, BusinessMirror’s two-part series, “Global Shipment Woes: Additional Shocks to Phil’s Food Supply Chain” and “Supply Stiffness to Stay as Shipment Issues Seen Spilling Past Yule Season,” was awarded the Agriculture Story of the Year.

The story focused on the global supply chain and how it affected the Philippines’s food supplies. (Part 1 here: and Part 2 here:

BusinessMirror reporters Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas and Cai U. Ordinario as well as the newspaper’s former trade reporter Tyrone Jasper C. Piad wrote the piece.

Ordinario and Piad accepted the award during a virtual ceremony while Arcalas was not formally declared among the winners because he has already been inducted into the award’s Hall of Fame or an Oriental Leaf winner last year.

The story was edited by Senior Editor Dennis D. Estopace and published under the BusinessMirror’s BroaderLook section. The BroaderLook pieces of the newspaper are long form stories that discuss pressing economic issues of the day.

“We believe that agricultural journalism shines brightly on the most vital topics in the past year through an increasingly digital and connected world. Bright Leaf hopes to continue blazing the trail in recognizing the cutting edge of agricultural journalism in the Philippines,” PMFTC Global Communications Director Dave Gomez said.

This is echoed by the chairman for the Board of Judges, Krip Yuson: “We are all sustained by hope: hope for a better Philippines, hope for a brighter future, hope that the words we write and the images we photograph will ultimately be seen by the next generation.”

The Bright Leaf awards is an annual journalism competition that celebrates individuals and teams that were responsible for emphasizing the diverse agricultural stories in the Philippines.

The awards also build a sense of community and integrity among agricultural journalists and media practitioners, while emphasizing the value of telling stories about Philippine agriculture, and providing hope and inspiration to their readers.

The awards began in 2007, with less than a hundred entries. It is initiated by PMFTC Inc. The name “Bright Leaf” is derived from the Virginia Tobacco leaf, which turns into a bright yellow color after the curing process.

From its humble roots, the current crop of participants this year numbered in the thousands, with over 500 eligible submissions successfully showcasing a variety of topics in agricultural journalism.

Despite the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bright Leaf sustained the competition, shifting to online spaces for the second year covering Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Furthermore, an innovation this year is for Oriental Leaf Awardees to become eligible to join the contest again, three years after their Oriental Leaf win.

This year’s awardees are: For Best Agriculture Feature Story (Regional), Reuel John Lumawag of SunStar Davao won for this story, “Davao Coffee Beginning to Rise in the Coffee Scene,” where he profiles the burgeoning coffee industry in Davao amidst the pandemic. As for Best Agriculture Feature Story (National), the award goes to Manila Bulletin’s Vina V. Medenilla for her story, “Cavite Interior Designer is also a Weekend Farmer,” a feature on farmer Pinky Peralta and her journey as a designer, artist, and mother.

The agricultural news stories highlight the struggles of farmers in the Philippines, and bring public awareness to little-known issues. The Best Agriculture News Story (Regional) was awarded to Rachel P. Ganancial’s “Pala’wan Tribes Struggle Through Pineapple Farming During Covid-19 Pandemic,” published in Palawan News. She focuses on the Pala’wan tribes growing Batarza pineapples and their struggles during the pandemic.

The Best Agriculture News Story (National) went to Jordeene Sheex B. Lagare from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, for the article “PH Importing 200,000 Tons of Sugar to Stabilize Prices,” which traces the challenges experienced by sugar refineries after natural disasters destroyed raw sugar production.

The Bright Leaf Awards also highlight agricultural news on other mediums, such as online, TV, and radio. The winner for the Best Online Story comes from Mongabay News’ Karlson Lapniten, “Sustainable Livelihood Offers a Lifeline to Philippines’ Dying Rice Terraces,” which highlights how farmers are trying to maintain the Ifugao Rice Terraces through traditional terrace farming and other sustainable methods.

Meanwhile, Best Agriculture TV Program/Segment went to Amielle Alexandra Garcia Ordoñez’s “In Review: Bakit Wala Pa Ring Pag-Usad sa Buhay ng Maraming Magsasaka sa Pilipinas?”, which is part of GMA News and Public Affairs Digitals’ Stand for Truth’s election series. The segment focused on the Philippine agricultural sector and the current challenges the sector faced.

Finally, Best Agriculture Radio Program/Segment was awarded to DZWT 540 KHZ Radyo Totoo’s Nora Sagayo for her segment, “Organic Fertilizer,” which informed listeners about the uses and procedure of using organic fertilizer and composting.

The Tobacco Photo of the Year is awarded to the photojournalist who was able to preserve the image that encapsulates the Philippines’ tobacco industry in 2021.

This was awarded to Baguio Chronicle’s Laila Austria, whose winning image, “Surviving Tobacco Turn Gold.” Her photograph featured Virgilio Rodriguez, a private tobacco farmer from Candon whose crops were able to survive a typhoon.

Similarly, the Tobacco Story of the Year celebrates major changes in the Philippines’ tobacco industry in 2021. This was awarded to Baguio Chronicle’s Frank Cimatu’s “Perfect Storm Hits Ilocos and Abra Tobacco Farms” which highlighted the climate destruction caused by the January 2021 rains that destroyed tobacco fields in Ilocos Sur and Abra.

Finally, the last two awards capture, in words and image, the relevant state of Philippine agriculture. The Agriculture Photo of the Year went to Edge Davao’s Rhoy Cobilla, for a photograph titled “The Hardwork of Dawn” which illuminates the hard work of the fishermen in Barangay Tagas in Camarines Sur.

Image credits: Screen grab via

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