• Invitation to Grace Poe


    NO droplet of rain had ever felt responsible for consequent killer floods that wreck fragile structures, touch off mudslides, displace thousands of families, decimate crops, and snuff out lives.

    No voter would ever own up to being responsible for whatever dire catastrophe that their chosen leader would inflict upon a nation. All the voters want is to be on the side of the winner—they are not voting for their country. As a popularity contest goes, most votes are plunked down on whoever grabs the attention of the masses, and I’m afraid even human attention span which translates to capacity for focus, contemplation, and razor keen abstraction has suffered through all these decades—that span has been whittled down to a pitiable seven seconds. Seven lousy seconds that needs to be fed with maxed up logorrhea, the filthier and trashier the sound bites, the more it gets gobbled into that too-short span for attention. And the more it gets to home, where people come home to, the more familial it becomes, if only to affirm the Muslim mystic Hafiz, he who has committed the Qur’an to heart, “the words you speak become the house you live in.” Pero ang pamilya ko po sampu ng aking mga apo ay hindi nakatira sa pu–.

    As mystics would have it, it takes 68 seconds of focused thought for such to be nudged into the material realm—the principle behind the Benedictine aphorism which was adopted by some Freemasons, laborare est orare, orare est laborare; work is prayer, prayer is work.

    My third child, a black belt taekwondo jin and highly paid software engineer opted not to participate in the May 9 electoral exercise—just like I did. Six years ago, my family voted for a Gilberto Teodoro, who lost.

    Thus, we have learned our lesson, maybe from the Hang Seng bourse founder who explained it wryly in terms that can only resonate to headhunters scouting for CEO material for high-earning outfits. “Election is a matter of counting noses in a democracy. And there are more stupid noses that overwhelm by the enormity of their numbers the more sensible noses.”

    If you have the time, Madam Grace Poe, please join my family when our grandson Oyayi gets into this year’s Palarong Pambansa—he’ll likely be the youngest competitor in the taekwondo events in the national competitions. Oyayi is barely six years old, a bookworm, quite accomplished in scholastic work. He’s also a blue belt and whips out a mean ax kick that topples taller, bigger and, usually, older opponents. But he has remained gentle, soft-spoken; so docile, like the cats that he tends to as pets—and, despite the growing repertoire of physical skills, he can muster, he isn’t a bully.

    You don’t know me from Adam, but certain people got to me, barking the usual marching orders I had been used to pay heed to during the 1970s Mindanao Campaign, this time to rise to your defense as a columnist in this paper; it looks like they’re stuck with me despite my aversion to politics. I am a farmer like the goju-ryu karatedo grandmaster Chojun Miyagi and warrior-statesmen Zhuge Liang and Cincinnatus—they worked on the ground; had an intimate affinity with thrum and throb of clime and time, earth and crops. Agriculture remains our nation’s sphere of economic activity that generates the most number of jobs—and your advocacy and priority for agriculture as linchpin of authentic development bespeaks of an insightful mind.

    For ages, the Filipino citizenry had been clamoring for reforms, for meaningful change in their lives. A pioneer in agriculture science, botanist, and plant breeder who developed over 800 strains and varieties of plants—including the high-yielding Idaho potato and thorn-less roses in a 55-year career won’t be heeded hereabouts. Change in today’s fair hope of the land, as Luther Burbank pointed out, begins in their grandfathers, “begin with the grandfather when he is a child.” It is one occasion to look back in fondness to one’s lolo and whatever changes he wrought upon himself, whatever he went through that is now bequeathed, hardwired innately to the beloved apo, ay, that sage-warrior-king had it down pat in the Scriptures: “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”

    It was my old man who introduced me to quaint playthings—cicadas, scarab beetles, fireflies, dragonflies, guppies, frogs and such in a bygone carefree romp throughout childhood. In turn, I have shared the same. In all likelihood, they’d also be sharing such serene joys to their children, paying heed to Burbank’s counsel: “Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud-turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, brooks to wade in, water-lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hay fields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education.”

    Our national hero didn’t have that solid grounding in genetics when he framed that assertion, “kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.” Burbank had that edge, so that we may affirm, “mga nuno sa kanilang kamusmusan ang susi sa pagsulong ng bayan.”

    Dry season reminder
    “In the Philippines, there will be a 10-15 % drop in agricultural production for every 1°C of warming,” according to a report from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the state weather bureau, PAGASA.

    That simply means greater threats to the nation’s food security and more agriculture sector workers pushed to poverty.

    Recent findings claim that 100 trees in the immediate environs can touch off a 1°C drop in the ambient temperature. One of the pet measures that lawmaker Grace Poe is pushing for—an out-and-out rehab of the nation’s watershed areas that provide irrigation and potable water supply to croplands and urban centers throughout the nation. She can return to her Senate seat and craft more no-nonsense measures for the agricultural sector, which remains the biggest provider of jobs, albeit low-paying, to Filipinos.


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    1. Dear Mr. De Los Reyes,

      Thank you for your article, in particular, our agricultural sector! For a brief background, let me state the following {before I will state my intention to this letter}.

      I have been working in Saudi Arabia for the past of more than 3 decades! I am familiar with food products {mainly the best} available in this part of the world… being a Capampangan, a good cook at that, I am very much familiar regarding food in the market, in particular… rice!
      In addition, I have a satellite tv connection, called BeINSPORT with a program called Nat Geo People that features among others, cuisine from all over the world, including the remotest areas, jungles, deserts, etc. Also part of these channel programs… include, how fish, livestock, agricultural products are raised, in the most and latest scientific means!!!

      For one, here in Saudi Arabia, there is this rice from Vietnam labeled “LOTUS”, which has packing in its original package, compared to other rice varieties from Thailand and other countries {but repacked…meaning some other varieties perhaps cheaper varieties are mixed with new label like Jasmine, Wagwag, etc…. this is meant for Filipinos only. These are still very good rice, meaning good taste for Filipinos. Please note, for Middle Eastern peoples, they prefer the BASMATI rice from India for their kind of rice cooking and cuisine. Suggest, kindly check around supermarkets if they carry the LOTUS brand…and try it!

      As for food production, I recommend that a select few…Filipino Agricultural Scientists be sent to Singapore {with government collaboration with the Singapore government} to observe their food production/raising their fish, livestock, agricultural, poultry, etc. For sure, they will be amazed, how far advance Singapore has been as far as food production is practiced there!!!

      I know, we all have high hopes in the coming of the new administration. We all hope and pray… for the better.

      I remain…warmest regards,

      Tony Lapid

    2. Girlie Bebbeb on

      The author of this article said well. It is not surprising that Sen. Grace Poe lost to Duterte and Roxas because most us can be easily dupe or sold their souls. Not to mention that television is a very powerful tool to make people convinced and blind.

    3. We have before a very good lawyer, Atty. Ceferino Padua if my memory serves me right, who won for us the free use of SLEX from Magallanes to Alabang as we have already paid for the whole stretch. Atty. Padua also does not want to pay for his water bills to our association as he said water, like air, is God given and should be free. I learned later that our association charged him only for electricity for pumping water right into his home.
      During the campaign, I read that our President-elect Rod Duterte said that he will give free irrigation, built farm to market road and storage facilities to help our famers. This will be a great help to farmers who until the Pnoy administration is being charge for irrigation.
      Also, as you said sir, it takes 100 trees to bring down the temperature 1 degree C, I hope that Pres-elect Duterte why will impose a life sentence penalty to those caught of illegal logging and let them work by planting trees all over the country.