PH, US MARK 'FRIENDSHIP DAY'

JULY 4 --AS the country marks the 52nd Filipino-American Friendship Day today, Vice President Jejomar Binay asked the United States government to grant temporary protection status to Filipinos who survived or have relatives affected by super typhoon “Yolanda” last November. “Today we celebrate the bond of two nations whose kinship is rooted in the ideals of freedom and democracy and built on mutual respect and cooperation,” Binay, concurrent presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns, said on Thursday. “As we celebrate this long-standing alliance, I hope that as an act of goodwill, the United States government will grant Temporary Protection Status to our [countrymen] currently working in the US who were or have relatives affected by super typhoon Yolanda,” he added. Temporary protected status is an immigration condition where eligible nationals of designated countries are allowed to stay in the US temporarily because of ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster or other extraordinary and temporary condition in their home country. So far, the seven countries under TPS are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. The Philippines, along with Guatemala and Pakistan, are the countries seeking TPS for its citizens. The vice president said the issuance of the TPS will allow Filipinos in the US to focus on providing for their families and rebuilding their lives without worrying about being removed from employment or deported back to the Philippines. Binay said the humanitarian act will further cement and deepen the friendship between Filipinos and Americans which the country celebrates on the day the US officially withdrew from the Philippines in July 4, 1946. The country’s Independence Day was celebrated in ceremonies held at the Independence Grandstand (a temporary structure built in front of the Rizal Monument) with the US flag was lowered and the Philippine flag was raised to fly alone over the islands. * READ MORE..

ALSO: CBCP seeks different approach vs corruption

JULY 5 --Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas yesterday urged the use of a more constructive approach in looking for solutions to graft and corruption. “Perhaps, we can reconsider our approach at solving the cancer of Philippine society which is graft and corruption by talking more about the beauty of integrity and honesty rather constantly denouncing the evil that we experience,” Villegas said in his speech during yesterday’s opening of the three-day 109th CBCP plenary assembly. “Perhaps we can widen circles of integrity rather than creating fiercer watchdogs against corruption. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that for every prophetic denunciation we utter we must stretch our hands to offer an opportunity for conversion and healing,” he added. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Follow Pope’s way vs graft, prelates told 

The head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Saturday urged members of the clergy to adopt Pope Francis’ approach to fighting graft and corruption, instead of just denouncing the “cancer of Philippine society.” “Perhaps we can reconsider our approach at solving… graft and corruption by talking more about the beauty of integrity and honesty rather constantly denouncing the evil that we experience,” CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in his speech during the opening of the conference plenary assembly yesterday, in the latest sign of a liberal shift in the powerful institution. More than 100 bishops from various dioceses were expected to gather during the three-day assembly at the Pope Pius XII Center on UN Avenue in Manila to tackle Church matters and pressing national concerns. The plenary assembly is considered the highest decision-making body of the CBCP, which meets in regular session in January and July. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Public warned of toxic raincoats 

JULY 5 --Toxic rain gear may protect children against the flu or a cold but they can make kids sicker. A consumer safety group said Saturday that raincoats sold in discount retail shops in the cities of Manila and Pasay contain high levels of the toxic metal lead. The EcoWaste Coalition cautioned parents against buying raincoats made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic which, it said, contains toxic additives particularly lead that can harm the brain and the central nervous system and even disrupt the normal functions of the endocrine system.    According to EcoWaste, five of six PVC raincoats it bought early last month from stores in Divisoria in Manila and Baclaran in Pasay City at prices ranging from P130 to P200 were found to contain lead. The June 25 results from the analysis of the items by global testing company SGS revealed that they contained up to 574 parts per million (ppm) of lead, way above the allowable 100 ppm limit for lead in accessible substrate materials under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Among the items that EcoWaste sampled were two Tweety Bird yellow raincoats which contained 574 ppm and 190 ppm of lead; a yellow student raincoat with 243 ppm of lead; a Winnie the Pooh yellow raincoat with 217 ppm of the toxic metal; and a Mickey Mouse blue raincoat with 164 ppm. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Field tests show effectiveness of cocolisap pesticide

SILANG, Cavite, Philippines – Field tests on the environment-friendly, non-chemical organic pesticide developed by a member of the Filipino Inventors Society Producers Cooperative (FISPC) has successfully shown its effectiveness in reducing and controlling the population of coconut scale insects (CSI), more popularly known as cocolisap. Francisco Pagayon, FISPC chairman, said that the recent seven-day spraying of the GBEE BEMO (Green and Blue Earth Enterprises Beneficial Effective Micro Organism) on some 300 coconut trees in the two-hectare ES Farm in Silang, Cavite of Jun Espino showed a high reduction of the cocolisap population. Pagayon said the results were monitored by neighboring farms and have drawn excitement and huge interest from the public. The FISPC and Espino, along with his farm caretaker who conducted the spraying of the GBEE BEMO organic pesticide, conducted an inspection of the coconut trees last Thursday. They confirmed that the number of scale insects in the trees was significantly reduced. FISPC member Jesse Ambrocio, Jr., who formulated the GBEE BEMO solution, called on Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan, who heads the task force on the cocolisap outbreak in Southern Luzon, to take a look at his organic pesticide. * READ MORE...

ALSO: Farms work when run like family 

To emphasize the growing importance of family farming in Philippine agriculture, the government is now highlighting family farms as models of successful farming rather than large tracts of land that are “managed like a factory,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said. This year, beginning last May 26, the country observes the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF). De los Reyes defined family farming as a farm owned and run by one family, with family members themselves working the land.
A plantation, on the other hand, is a “consolidated operation,” which may also be owned by a family but managed by a company. (The Hacienda Luisita sugar estate in Tarlac province, which is owned by the Cojuangco family, is not a family farm, he said, because “it is operated by a corporation.”) The typical farming family in the Philippine countryside consists of a father, a mother and three to four children who live on and off the land. They till the soil, plant crops like rice, corn, sugarcane or coconut, harvest these with the help of neighbors, and deal with traders to sell their produce. Using only their hands and applying traditional methods of farming, they compete with mechanized, company-owned plantations. It sounds like an underdog story without a happy ending, but there’s more to family farming than meets the eye, according to De los Reyes. “It isn’t automatic that the bigger the farm, the more productive it is. Size by itself is not a determinant of productivity,” De los Reyes said in an interview. * READ MORE...

Filipino farmers need to be techno-savvy 

JANUARY 23, 2014 --PHOTO - MAURICIO Sandico believes that a sEV ESPIRITU--Filipino farmers, by and large, are hardworking and industrious. But in this globalization age when they have to compete with their counterparts in China and other countries, these traits are not enough. Simply relying on conventional old practices, such as farming methods promoted by big agrochemical companies for decades, is not the way for today’s farmer to get by. Unless he innovates and maintains a sense of wonder for discovery, the conventional tiller will perish, according to a new breed of farmers. Mauricio Sandico belongs to this new breed. He has the heart of both farmer and scientist and advocates organic food and a way of farming that can help regenerate the earth.
When he decided to shift his career to farming in 2007 after 24 years of being an overseas worker in the Middle East, Sandico first surveyed the organic food business terrain in Baguio City and neighboring areas. His search led him to an already organized group—the La Trinidad Organic Practitioners or LaTOP, which was organized in 2005. The group now has more than 50 members.
LaTOP offers basic courses on organic farming, such as composting. Sandico availed himself of its training activities and eventually became a member. * READ MORE...

ALSO: 200 Filipinos tagged as drug mules in China’s jails—PDEA 

More than 200 Filipinos are languishing in jails in China for drug-smuggling offenses, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. The PDEA has said that almost three-fourths of the number are women caught transporting illegal drugs there. Of the 220 Filipinos held in China jails as of May this year, 161 are women while 59 are men. PDEA Director General undersecretary Arturo Cacdac Jr. warned Filipinos on the recruitment, arrest, detention and conviction of Filipinos being used as drug couriers. In a statement, Cacdac lamented the alarming rate of Filipinos arrested for drug trafficking in Guangzhou province, China. “Do not accept offers to become drug mules even if they are very tempting,” the PDEA director general said. * READ MORE...


Read Full Stories here:

PH, US mark ‘Friendship Day’


The Philippines 4th. Old photographs show the ceremony at the Luneta where the US flag was pulled down as that of the Philippines was raised on July 4, 1946. Days before, Filipino socialites gathered at Malacañan Palace to put the finishing touches on the US flag that was used in the ceremony.

MANILA, JULY 6, 2014 (MANILA STANDARD) AS the country marks the 52nd Filipino-American Friendship Day today, Vice President Jejomar Binay asked the United States government to grant temporary protection status to Filipinos who survived or have relatives affected by super typhoon “Yolanda” last November.

“Today we celebrate the bond of two nations whose kinship is rooted in the ideals of freedom and democracy and built on mutual respect and cooperation,” Binay, concurrent presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns, said on Thursday.

“As we celebrate this long-standing alliance, I hope that as an act of goodwill, the United States government will grant Temporary Protection Status to our [countrymen] currently working in the US who were or have relatives affected by super typhoon Yolanda,” he added.

Temporary protected status is an immigration condition where eligible nationals of designated countries are allowed to stay in the US temporarily because of ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster or other extraordinary and temporary condition in their home country.

So far, the seven countries under TPS are El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan and Syria. The Philippines, along with Guatemala and Pakistan, are the countries seeking TPS for its citizens.

The vice president said the issuance of the TPS will allow Filipinos in the US to focus on providing for their families and rebuilding their lives without worrying about being removed from employment or deported back to the Philippines.

Binay said the humanitarian act will further cement and deepen the friendship between Filipinos and Americans which the country celebrates on the day the US officially withdrew from the Philippines in July 4, 1946.

The country’s Independence Day was celebrated in ceremonies held at the Independence Grandstand (a temporary structure built in front of the Rizal Monument) with the US flag was lowered and the Philippine flag was raised to fly alone over the islands.

* According pre-World War II socialite Pura Kalaw, the last American flag to fly over the Philippines was specially-prepared by Filipino socialites, including three first ladies: Mrs. Manuel L. Quezon, Mrs. Sergio Osmeña and Mrs. Manuel Roxas.

After the ties at the Luneta, the flag was sent to the US as a souvenir from a former colony which, like the US, also celebrated its own independence day on July 4.

But after 16 years, President Diosdado Macapagal issued a proclamation in 1962 moving the date of Independence Day from July 4 to June 12, the date Filipinos declared independence from Spain at Emilio Aguinaldo’s home in Kawit, Cavite in 1898.

In his proclamation, President Macapagal cited “the establishment of the Philippine Republic by the Revolutionary Government under General Emilio Aguinaldo on June 12, 1898, marked our people’s declaration and exercise of their right to self-determination, liberty and independence.”

FROM PHILSTAR

CBCP seeks different approach vs corruption By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 6, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas yesterday urged the use of a more constructive approach in looking for solutions to graft and corruption.

“Perhaps, we can reconsider our approach at solving the cancer of Philippine society which is graft and corruption by talking more about the beauty of integrity and honesty rather constantly denouncing the evil that we experience,” Villegas said in his speech during yesterday’s opening of the three-day 109th CBCP plenary assembly.

“Perhaps we can widen circles of integrity rather than creating fiercer watchdogs against corruption.

Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that for every prophetic denunciation we utter we must stretch our hands to offer an opportunity for conversion and healing,” he added.

Follow Pope’s way vs graft, prelates told Philippine Daily Inquirer7:25 am | Sunday, July 6th, 2014


POPE FRANCIS, AP

MANILA, Philippines—The head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Saturday urged members of the clergy to adopt Pope Francis’ approach to fighting graft and corruption, instead of just denouncing the “cancer of Philippine society.”

“Perhaps we can reconsider our approach at solving… graft and corruption by talking more about the beauty of integrity and honesty rather constantly denouncing the evil that we experience,” CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in his speech during the opening of the conference plenary assembly yesterday, in the latest sign of a liberal shift in the powerful institution.

More than 100 bishops from various dioceses were expected to gather during the three-day assembly at the Pope Pius XII Center on UN Avenue in Manila to tackle Church matters and pressing national concerns.

The plenary assembly is considered the highest decision-making body of the CBCP, which meets in regular session in January and July.

* “Perhaps we can widen circles of integrity rather than creating fiercer watchdogs against corruption. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that for every prophetic denunciation we utter we must stretch our hands to offer an opportunity for conversion and healing,” he told his fellow prelates.

Villegas urged them to emulate Pope Francis who, he said, had shaken up the old belief systems on spiritual shepherding.

He said the Pope had “slowly moved the Church from being a dogmatic, self-engrossed and authoritative sick institution to being a gentle, outreaching, compassionate and persuasive Church through the power of love and mercy.”

The Pope last year said the Church had become “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and had set about creating “a poor church for the poor,” in a major shift from his predecessor. Tina G. Santos; AFP

FROM THE INQUIRER

Public warned of toxic raincoats By Jeannette I. Andrade |Philippine Daily Inquirer4:00 pm | Saturday, July 5th, 2014


CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA

MANILA, Philippines—Toxic rain gear may protect children against the flu or a cold but they can make kids sicker.

A consumer safety group said Saturday that raincoats sold in discount retail shops in the cities of Manila and Pasay contain high levels of the toxic metal lead.

The EcoWaste Coalition cautioned parents against buying raincoats made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic which, it said, contains toxic additives particularly lead that can harm the brain and the central nervous system and even disrupt the normal functions of the endocrine system.

According to EcoWaste, five of six PVC raincoats it bought early last month from stores in Divisoria in Manila and Baclaran in Pasay City at prices ranging from P130 to P200 were found to contain lead.

The June 25 results from the analysis of the items by global testing company SGS revealed that they contained up to 574 parts per million (ppm) of lead, way above the allowable 100 ppm limit for lead in accessible substrate materials under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Among the items that EcoWaste sampled were two Tweety Bird yellow raincoats which contained 574 ppm and 190 ppm of lead; a yellow student raincoat with 243 ppm of lead; a Winnie the Pooh yellow raincoat with 217 ppm of the toxic metal; and a Mickey Mouse blue raincoat with 164 ppm.

* According to EcoWaste Project Protect coordinator Thony Dizon, “While it is true these raincoats can prevent kids from getting wet, the lead and other hazardous substances on the PVC plastic material or design may make them sick in the long term and pollute the environment as well.”

He added that when PVC raincoats get old and are discarded, the lead and other toxins they contain are discharged into the environment.

Dizon said that children are vulnerable to such toxins because they are prone to hand-to-mouth activities and their vital organs and systems are still developing.

He advised parents to buy only non-PVC rain gear and to constantly check the condition of the products for signs of wear and tear. Children, he added, should always be reminded to wash their hands after playing and before eating.

EcoWaste asked local manufacturers to strictly abide by the provisions of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

They said that manufacturers should phase out lead and other toxic chemicals in the production process; disclose the chemical content of their products; and respect the consumers’ right to know through complete and truthful labeling.

Lead, which can be ingested or inhaled, is most dangerous for children because it can damage or retard brain development, causing shorter attention span, learning disabilities, lower intelligence quotient scores, poor control of impulses, and aggressive behavior.

FROM PHILSTAR

Field tests show effectiveness of cocolisap pesticide By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 6, 2014 - 12:00am 2 290 googleplus2 4


Farmer Jun Espino (wearing white cap) and FISPC chairman Francisco Pagayon spray GBEE BEMO on cocolisap-infested coconut trees in Espino’s two-hectare ES Farm in Silang, Cavite last Thursday.

SILANG, Cavite, Philippines – Field tests on the environment-friendly, non-chemical organic pesticide developed by a member of the Filipino Inventors Society Producers Cooperative (FISPC) has successfully shown its effectiveness in reducing and controlling the population of coconut scale insects (CSI), more popularly known as cocolisap.

Francisco Pagayon, FISPC chairman, said that the recent seven-day spraying of the GBEE BEMO (Green and Blue Earth Enterprises Beneficial Effective Micro Organism) on some 300 coconut trees in the two-hectare ES Farm in Silang, Cavite of Jun Espino showed a high reduction of the cocolisap population.

Pagayon said the results were monitored by neighboring farms and have drawn excitement and huge interest from the public.

The FISPC and Espino, along with his farm caretaker who conducted the spraying of the GBEE BEMO organic pesticide, conducted an inspection of the coconut trees last Thursday.

They confirmed that the number of scale insects in the trees was significantly reduced.

FISPC member Jesse Ambrocio, Jr., who formulated the GBEE BEMO solution, called on Presidential Adviser on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan, who heads the task force on the cocolisap outbreak in Southern Luzon, to take a look at his organic pesticide.

* Ambrocio said the Department of Agriculture, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine Coconut Authority are welcome to visit the FISPC showroom and business center at the Delta building in Quezon City for a discussion on his GBEE BEMO solution and field test results.

He said the FISPC is willing to conduct other field tests on infested farms in the Southern Luzon region and even in other areas reported to have cocolisap infestation such as Basilan province.

Ambrocio said the GBEE BEMO is a “probiotic” organic pesticide spray made from four microorganisms.

He refused to elaborate on the composition of the solution to prevent copying by other groups.

“We want to reiterate that GBEE BEMO is the environment-friendly, all natural, organic pesticide solution that could best solve the cocolisap problem, instead of the expensive and highly-questionable solution of using harmful neocotinoid chemicals and releasing predator insects that will do more harm than good,” Ambrocio said.

He said aside from disrupting the reproductive appetite of cocolisap, the organic compounds of GBEE BEMO will stop other plant pests, fungi and virus and will even convert the pollutants or toxins secreted by scale insects into plant nutrients, bringing life back to cocolisap-infested coconut trees.

Pagayon said the FISPC will be the exclusive distributor of the GBEE BEMO pesticide, similar to the other products of FISPC member-inventors and entrepreneurs.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Farms work when run like family By DJ Yap |Philippine Daily Inquirer5:36 am | Sunday, July 6th, 2014


INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—To emphasize the growing importance of family farming in Philippine agriculture, the government is now highlighting family farms as models of successful farming rather than large tracts of land that are “managed like a factory,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said.

This year, beginning last May 26, the country observes the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF).

De los Reyes defined family farming as a farm owned and run by one family, with family members themselves working the land.

A plantation, on the other hand, is a “consolidated operation,” which may also be owned by a family but managed by a company.

(The Hacienda Luisita sugar estate in Tarlac province, which is owned by the Cojuangco family, is not a family farm, he said, because “it is operated by a corporation.”)

The typical farming family in the Philippine countryside consists of a father, a mother and three to four children who live on and off the land.

They till the soil, plant crops like rice, corn, sugarcane or coconut, harvest these with the help of neighbors, and deal with traders to sell their produce. Using only their hands and applying traditional methods of farming, they compete with mechanized, company-owned plantations.

It sounds like an underdog story without a happy ending, but there’s more to family farming than meets the eye, according to De los Reyes.

“It isn’t automatic that the bigger the farm, the more productive it is. Size by itself is not a determinant of productivity,” De los Reyes said in an interview.

* Collective, successful farming

Consider this. A small family tending a tiny parcel of land will certainly not yield plenty. But if that family forms an organization with 10 or more small families, it can do wonders to their earnings as a whole, De los Reyes said.

A farming family, on its own, can only take out a loan for P30,000 or P40,000 from a bank (coursed through a trader who can provide the collateral) at a prohibitive interest rate.

“On the other hand, if 10 or 20 farming families band together, they can secure a loan for P800,000 at a lower interest rate because the cost to the bank is less,” De los Reyes said.

Furthermore, “family farms tend to make use of every inch of their land,” he said. “They need to make it produce to make the family, as much as possible, self-sufficient and also to create a surplus for the market.”

Support from government

The government, through the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Department of Agriculture, provides support to family farms in three ways.

The first is rural infrastructure in the form of irrigation facilities, roads, bridges and the like, all of which are meant to lower costs.

The second is through extension services, such as the provision of credit, farm machinery and training programs to increase yield.

The third is research and development to create new technology that will make life easier for farmers.

De los Reyes said the ideal family farm is not just a self-contained unit, but one that cooperates with other family farms “to consolidate operation, not necessarily to consolidate ownership” to achieve greater yield and income.

Based on figures from CountrySTAT, an online database on national food and agriculture statistics, there are some 12.09 million farmers in the Philippines, comprising 32 percent of the country’s workforce.

Rice workers, on average, earn P249.19 a day, while corn workers earn P189.56, the data showed.

De los Reyes said a “myth” in Philippine agriculture was that farming families lived only off the land. “Most of them are actually making a living on and off the farm. There will be members of the family who will go to the poblacion to be a tricycle driver, because their income from the farm is not enough,” he said.

In 2011, agriculture officials told a Senate budget hearing that the average age of the country’s farmers and fishermen was 57, and many of the farmers were small landholders, tilling an average of 2.5 hectares.

Better life

Data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics also showed that farming is not enough to support a family. A farmer’s average income is only about P20,000 a year.

De los Reyes said he considered the IYFF a great opportunity for the government to make life better for farming families.

“The IYFF is important to [us at the] DAR because aside from our mandate of distributing land to farmers, we are also tasked to provide agrarian justice to oppressed farmer-beneficiaries and to provide support services to boost farm[ing] families’ income,” he said.

“We want to be able to help our farmers achieve social justice, and the IYFF will help pave the way for policies and laws that are profarmers,” De los Reyes said.

He said the government was focused on addressing the concerns and supporting the long-term goals of farmers, particularly agrarian reform beneficiaries, by giving them access to credit, farm investment insurance and agricultural technology extension.

Food, environment

The theme of the IYFF is “Ang Family Farming ay Buhay (Family Farming is Life),” seeking to highlight the importance of farming families in food security and the protection of natural resources.

The celebration is also aimed at stimulating active policies for the development of farming families, indigenous farming families, cooperatives and fishing families.

Among the government’s partners in pushing family farming are civil society groups, including the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka, Philippine and Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resource in Rural Areas, Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, and Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Developments.

“These civil society groups will greatly help us in drumbeating the issues concerning farming families and small-scale food producers,” De los Reyes said.

The IYFF was launched on Nov. 22, 2013, by the United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Organization in New York to highlight the importance of farming families in food security and in protecting the environment.

It also seeks to strengthen the legitimacy of rural and farmers associations and to increase awareness of the importance of supporting family farming as a sustainable and effective way of producing food worldwide.

Filipino farmers need to be techno-savvy By Maurice Malanes |Inquirer Northern Luzon9:03 pm | Tuesday, January 21st, 2014


MAURICIO Sandico believes that a scientific approach to organic farming would boost farmers’ harvests and income. EV ESPIRITU

Filipino farmers, by and large, are hardworking and industrious. But in this globalization age when they have to compete with their counterparts in China and other countries, these traits are not enough.

Simply relying on conventional old practices, such as farming methods promoted by big agrochemical companies for decades, is not the way for today’s farmer to get by. Unless he innovates and maintains a sense of wonder for discovery, the conventional tiller will perish, according to a new breed of farmers.

Mauricio Sandico belongs to this new breed. He has the heart of both farmer and scientist and advocates organic food and a way of farming that can help regenerate the earth.

When he decided to shift his career to farming in 2007 after 24 years of being an overseas worker in the Middle East, Sandico first surveyed the organic food business terrain in Baguio City and neighboring areas.

His search led him to an already organized group—the La Trinidad Organic Practitioners or LaTOP, which was organized in 2005. The group now has more than 50 members.

LaTOP offers basic courses on organic farming, such as composting. Sandico availed himself of its training activities and eventually became a member.

* In applying what he learned, he would gather wild sunflower stems from Baguio and bring these to his newly acquired four-hectare organic farm in Rosario town in La Union province, an hour’s drive from the mountain city.

He would tear apart the sunflower stems with a shredding machine and mix these with other weeds to make compost. In two or more months, he could gather the compost materials for his crops, such as okra, string beans, eggplant, rice and lemongrass.

Too laborious

But Sandico found composting too laborious even if he has a shredder. “I also thought about other farmers who couldn’t afford to buy a shredder,” he said. “So I have to find a more efficient way [of making compost].”

A locally fabricated shredder costs P40,000 to P50,000.

Sandico’s search led him to discover dried seaweed as an alternative organic fertilizer. Dried seaweed is rich in nitrogen and potassium, which help plants grow faster and healthier.

So Sandico hired some fishermen to gather seaweed washed ashore in La Union after a storm. The seaweeds were then washed and rinsed with fresh water before these were dried and shredded.

From his experiments, he found that decomposed seaweed could not be used repeatedly for a long time. His conclusion: Decomposed seaweed could be used alternately with other kinds of compost.

But like the native sunflower from Baguio, preparing the seaweed for compost was equally tedious, laborious and costly. The expenses included hired labor to gather the seaweeds and rinse these with fresh water.

New wave

Still, this didn’t discourage Sandico to make organic farming part of the new wave of the future.

His persistent drive to discover other organic farming approaches led him to enlist in another seminar on how to make compost using beneficial microorganisms. Participants were taught how to make compost out of sawdust mixed with what is called a “microbial inoculant.”

The microbial inoculant was discovered as early as 1982 by Dr. Teruo Higa, a Japanese microbiologist. Higa called his discovery “effective microorganisms,” now popularly referred to as “EM.”

First used by organic farmers in Japan, EM is now marketed in liquid form. A small amount of it can be added to compostable material to make a highly potent organic fertilizer called bokashi.

In the seminar Sandico attended in 2010, trainers used sawdust to make bokashi. With an inquisitive scientific mind, he asked himself, “If sawdust could be used, why not rice bran?”

He thought of rice bran because these were readily available in his farm in Rosario since he also cultivates organic rice.

From the training where he learned some basics of making bokashi, he had to discover for himself the nitty-gritty of making the organic fertilizer using rice bran. After a series of experiments for almost a year, he said he perfected making bokashi out of rice bran only in 2011 and “after a series of trial and error.”

But since he could manufacture more than enough for his own farm, he is now selling the EM-enriched organic fertilizer. He launched his own version of bokashi fertilizer in November last year.

His research efforts have paid off. He now has a convenient source of organic fertilizer for his farm.

Sandico discovered that a small amount of bokashi, when mixed with animal feed, is good for poultry and livestock. A kilo can be mixed with 50 kilos of feeds, which, he said, assures a farmer of healthier hogs and poultry.

There’s an added bonus—the wastes of animals fed with bokashi mix don’t smell.

Bokashi is good for fishponds, too. It can be broadcast to a fishpond before one brings in the fingerlings, Sandico said.

In organic farming, he discovered one vital basic principle: Nurture and feed the soil by sustaining its beneficial microorganisms and trace elements. And these microorganisms will do their part in sustaining plants, which are healthier for both humans and animals.

200 Filipinos tagged as drug mules in China’s jails—PDEA
By Julie M. Aurelio |Philippine Daily Inquirer2:47 pm | Sunday, July 6th, 2014


INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — More than 200 Filipinos are languishing in jails in China for drug-smuggling offenses, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The PDEA has said that almost three-fourths of the number are women caught transporting illegal drugs there.

Of the 220 Filipinos held in China jails as of May this year, 161 are women while 59 are men.

PDEA Director General undersecretary Arturo Cacdac Jr. warned Filipinos on the recruitment, arrest, detention and conviction of Filipinos being used as drug couriers.

In a statement, Cacdac lamented the alarming rate of Filipinos arrested for drug trafficking in Guangzhou province, China.
“Do not accept offers to become drug mules even if they are very tempting,” the PDEA director general said.

* According to Cacdac, almost half of the 220 Filipinos caught in China for drug smuggling were detained in Guangzhou.

Most of them were sentenced either with death with a two-year reprieve, life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment while the others’ cases were still pending or under investigation.

He reminded Filipinos anew that mere possession and transportation of illegal drugs would net harsh penalties in foreign countries, especially in China.

“Be vigilant of the modus operandi of drug syndicates. Before you know it, you are already caught in the web of drug trafficking activities,” he said.

Meanwhile, the PDEA expressed hope that member agencies of Task Force Drug Courier, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Information Agency, Manila International Airport Authority, and Philippine Tourism Authority would succeed in keeping down the number of drug mules.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2014 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE