The 14th Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards: Reimagining tomorrow with the country’s outstanding agricultural journalists

Going on its 14th year, The Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards renewed its commitment to recognize the exceptional journalists who spotlight the agricultural sector through online, print, radio, and television. On July 28, 2021, for the first time during a virtual ceremony hosted by veteran host James Deakin, the winners of the 14th Bright Leaf Awards were announced.

Logo taken from the Bright Leaf Agrijournalism Awards website.

What started out with less than a hundred entries during its inaugural year has evolved into thousands of entries scrutinized by top caliber judges looking for the best agriculture journalism has to offer for the year. More than 600 entries competed for the chance to be called the best of the best 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 theme, ‘Reimagining our tomorrow’ is very apt for us, at PMFTC and the Bright Leaf community.  Our agility to adapt and pivot were tested in this unprecedented global crisis,” said PMFTC President Denis Gorkun.
The Bright Leaf Agriculture Journalism Awards continues to acknowledge the efforts of the Filipino journalists who painstakingly cover important issues to place one of the most important industries in the spotlight. 
The Bight Leaf Awards aims to uplift the agriculture industry by honoring the journalists who bring to the fore the issues of the agriculture workers to the general public best summed up by PMFTC Communications Director Dave Gomez, “Your stories are the stories that matter to us. Your eyes are our window to our farmers’ plight. Your masterpieces are a reminder of the industry concerns we should pay attention to.” A truly relevant endeavor that will continue on in the years to come.
Prioritizing health and safety this year, the media professionals were updated online regarding the awards instead of the traditional face to face caravan events. Journalists from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, including Metro Manila-based joined the virtual roadshows via Facebook Live or the Zoom platform.
This only cemented the words spoken by the chairman of the board of judges, Krip Yuson, “It is during these times of uncertainty and despair when our desire for creativity is on fire.”
Aside from returning judges former Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) columnist Rina Jimenez-David , UST Assistant Director for Creative Writing Ralph Gallan, advertising and fashion photographer Francis Abraham, columnist Albert Gamboa, PDI columnist Jake Maderazo, UP professor for Creative Writing Isabelita Reyes, Business Mirror digital content manager Ed Sallan and PDI Inquirer photo editor Rem Zamora, new faces included Yvette Tan, Editor in Chief of Agriculture Monthly Magazine and Manila Bulletin's Agriculture Section Editor plus Kristine Bersamina, Managing Editor for
With the high calibre of entries, the judges had a difficult time choosing all the winners. Ultimately, Louise Maureen Simeon of the Philippine Star brought home the Agriculture Story of the Year with her piece, “A year into tariffication, farmers feel worse off”
For the Tobacco Story of the Year award, Business Mirror’s Cai Ordinario was judged winner for her article “Gold leaf farming sector still searching for own El Dorado” which tackles the country’s tobacco farm industry. She also won the award for the Best Agriculture News Story, National for a piece that details how our farmers were affected by the rice trade liberalization law, entitled “Pre- and Post-Rice Trade liberalization law, big traders gaming farmer groups”
For Tobacco Photo of the Year, Wilfredo Lomibao of Sunday Punch (Dagupan) and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, once again, claimed his trophy for “Ocean of Gold Leaves” which depicts a farmer drying tobacco leaves in Alcala, Pangasinan.
Business Mirror’s Erwin Mascariñas was named winner for Agriculture Photo of the Year for “Fish Drying”, a photo shows cardinal fish being dried on Halian Island in Surigao del Norte.
Baguio journalist, Frank Cimatu took home two awards. First, for his story that recounts the effects of the quarantine on the Cordillera farming industry with the title “How not to be dumped in February: Notes on tomato dumping,” which won for the Best Agriculture Feature Story, Regional. And second for his eye-opening article “Philippine tobacco industry may also produce our first aid COVID-19 Vaccine,” this year’s winner for the Best Story in Tobacco Product Alternatives.
GMA 7 bagged Best Agriculture TV Program or Segment, for their program Agripreneuer ‘s segment “Agriculture Technical Institute, from arms to farms” produced by Team MMPI. While Rose Malekchan of DZWT 540 Radyo Totoo, was named winner of Best Agriculture Radio Program or Segment for her piece “Polig Family Propagates Wild Berries, in the Kumpletos sa Rekados program.
Karl Angelica R. Ocampo received the prize for Best Agriculture Feature Story, National for her work on the news story “MovefoodPH serves needs of both food producers, consumers” which talks about an initiative the provides an online avenue for local food producers.
The Best Agriculture News Story Regional went to Erwin Nicavera of Sunstar Bacolod for his piece “Urban Farming Gaining Ground Amid Pandemic,” that discussed how urban farming can help one become self-sufficient  
The Best Online Story award, a fairly new category that was instituted only in 2018 received many submissions. Vina Medenilla of of Manila Bulletin wins in this category, for her story that illustrates how agriculture-tourism transformed idle land into a productive and sustainable enterprise for its community.
This year’s awards also included an Oriental Leaf Award winner, Jasper Emmanuel Alcaras.
He has won five Bright Leaf Awards in various categories throughout the years. He now joins the prestigious Bright Leaf Hall of Fame with other previous outstanding awardees.