I would like to thank the International School of Sustainable Tourism which is responsible for my presence here today. I never expected that I would be so honored with this award, Lakbay Bukid Award for Farm Tourism Development, because it is rare for private award-giving bodies to recognize the work of people like us who write about agriculture in the print media.
The Catholic Mass Media Award, as well as Organizations from Colleges and Universities like UP Los Baños, Lyceum of the Philippines, UST an others have given awards to practically every anchor, reporter, program host and other players in the broadcast media, particularly radio and television. Not to any agri journalist in print media that we know of.
Of course we are not writing about agriculture in anticipation of awards of one kind or another in the future. We love to write about agriculture because we believe that it is one way of contributing to the advancement of our farmers economically and otherwise.
Farm tourism is a new emerging welcome development in agriculture. It is one avenue where the young professionals can fit themselves in managing leisure farms. We are greatly delighted to see so many people, like the attendees in today’s conference, who are interested in putting up their own farm tourism projects.
At this point, I would like to thank the Manila Bulletin in particular, for providing me the opportunity to write extensively about agriculture. When I joined the newspaper in 1991, our Chairman, the late Dr. Emilio T. Yap, gave me a lot of space to publish my agri stories. From the start he gave me two pages a week to fill up with agri stories. One page every Thursday and another each Saturday. On top of this, I was also given two pages, one every Tuesday and another each Saturday, for ornamental gardening.
In addition, he also asked me to write an Agri-Talk column in the Panorama magazine, the Sunday supplement of the newspaper, which I maintain to this day
Later, he offered me to become the editor of Panorama magazine but I politely declined because I wanted to confine myself to agricultural journalism. And so he decided to start Agriculture magazine in 1997 which is today the most widely circulated magazine of its kind in the country.
Next came the vernacular magazines which are also published by the Manila Bulletin. These include the Liwayway, Bannawag, Bisaya and Hiligaynon. All of them also carried my articles.
I have requested for my retirement ending my employment in March 2019, and I am officially retired but I continue to write my agri columns and I have been requested to remain Editor of Agriculture magazine.
In my 28 years with the Manila Bulletin, I never took a vacation leave because I felt I was having a vacation all along, traveling to local and foreign places to cover agri events as vacation in themselves. I also never took a sick leave because I did not get sick in all those years.
We really don’t know when we will stop writing about successful farmers and their bright ideas, about agribusiness opportunities and emerging technologies in agriculture. I only hope that more journalists consider writing about agriculture. And I hope that publishers would allocate adequate space for agri stories in their publications.
But even if not enough space is allotted to agriculture stories in the print media, there is another platform that the agriculture writer can explore. This is reporting agricultural developments in their own blogs. I myself have been maintaining my blog, zacsarian.com, for more than 12 years now. The advantage of blogging is that the stories literally fly around the world in seconds after posting. Aside from the 11,800 subscribers to my blog, there are more than a thousand nonsubscribers who open my blog every day.
Once again, I would like to thank Dr. Mina Gabor and her brainchild, the ISST, for the recognition we received today (Nov. 7, 2019 at the Marco Polo Hotel in Cebu City).