The announcement of the Magsaysay Award
for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts this year came as
a total surprise to myself and to the members of my family. We are certain
that to many of our friends, the news was equally unexpected.
It was, of course, a most pleasant surprise. Never in our wildest dreams did
we think that some day this recognition would be bestowed upon us.
We would like to believe, however, that the Award is not an individual
recognition. Rather, we would like to think that it is a recognition of the
positive and constructive contribution of agricultural reporting in
stimulating greater productivity and, therefore, improving the quality of
life among the great mass of our people for whom the late President
Magsaysay showed so much concern. We mean, of course, the millions of our
farmers who must coax the good earth to bloom and yield the all-important
sustenance of life.
Farming is an honest and respectable means of earning a living. But it is
one of the most risky undertakings. Unpredictable floods, droughts,
outbreaks of pests and diseases, market fluctuations, lack of capital,
scarcity and high cost of inputs—these are but some of the problems that the
farmer has to contend with in his year-round operations.
Also, lack of education has often been the misfortune of the ordinary
farmer. How to convey to him in understandable and practical terms the
latest findings of agricultural researchers, the new agricultural strategies
of the government and related developments, has been the big problem, not
only of the agricultural journalist, but more importantly of the farm
Disseminating useful farm news has been exceedingly difficult. Farm stories
have not been as sensational as crime reports or politics, especially in the
pre-martial law days, so that it was almost impossible to read about
agriculture on the front pages of our newspapers unless there was some
Martial law, fortunately, has made very profound changes in the newspapers'
treatment of agricultural and developmental news. A cursory scanning of the
dailies and magazines would readily reveal that farm news is, indeed, being
given ample, if not special, coverage now.
No doubt the recognition that the Magsaysay Award Foundation is giving to
agricultural journalism today will further bring to the forefront what farm
reporting can contribute to the overall task of nation building.
If this is a good sign for us agricultural journalists, it should also open
our minds to the awesome responsibility and absolute necessity of always
striving for excellence in our calling. We believe that responsible
agricultural journalism is not just a matter of writing about agriculture
often and lengthily. Rather, we think that during this time when
agricultural production is the top priority in the Philippines and
elsewhere, the farm writer should be able to contribute his share more
meaningfully by concentrating on the significant, the relevant, the
On behalf of Modern Agriculture & Industry, Business Day and Daily Express,
we wish to thank most profoundly the Members of the Board of Trustees of the
Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, and all those who have inspired us to
pursue agricultural journalism.