'Carabao jokes'
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 () - August 28, 2009 - 12:00am

Brazilian Ambassador to the Philippines Alcides G.R. Prates is still ecstatic on the success of the state visit of President Arroyo in his country. He talked about it with gusto over the luncheon he hosted Monday for STAR editors, although it happened more than two months ago now. Prates expressed satisfaction at the way things turned out during the four-day state visit of President Arroyo without any untoward incident.

Prates in particular credited Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo for the trouble-free activities that Mrs. Arroyo had during her state visit to the country’s capital, Rio de Janeiro. “No publicity is good publicity,” the ambassador cheerily chirped. He, however, reiterated his personal admiration of the President’s hands-on style to make sure that any kinks or problems that arise are addressed right away at her level.

The presidential state visit in Brazil was part of the global tour Mrs. Arroyo had that started from Japan, then to Los Angeles, Colombia, then Brazil and the last stop was Hong Kong on June 17-25. The only sour note was the side trip that the President and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo had in Cartagena, Colombia where, they again were pilloried here by their political foes.

While in Brazil, Prates cited President Arroyo and Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who signed several bilateral deals to boost agricultural trade between the two countries. Among the official agreements, Prates singled out as very promising the one signed between private sector business and the commerce delegation of the Chief Executive with their Brazilian counterparts on the development of hybrid buffaloes in the Philippines.

This involves the donation of frozen semen from Brazilian buffaloes that could be injected to our local cattle stock. The next stage of this agreement, he cheerily noted, is the development of “embryo” for breeding that could provide higher production of buffaloes to meet the supply for both the meat and dairy requirements in the Philippines. I joked the ambassador that the only thing I know about Brazilian buffaloes is Libby’s Corn Beef made in Brazil.  

On a serious note, I told the ambassador that this buffalo breeding project is not something new to us. I told him about a similar project undertaken during the term of former President Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) on a cross-breeding program of Brahman buffaloes in India with Philippine buffaloes. The water buffaloes from India can produce around 15 liters to 18 liters of milk every day, compared to the local breed, which can only produce 1.2 liters to 1.5 liters a day.

Certainly a good program worth supporting, President Joseph “Erap” Estrada continued with this cattle-breeding program that was implemented by the Department of Agriculture. While he was a Senator, Estrada authored the “Philippine Carabao” bill that he successfully shepherded in Congress to be approved into law under RA 7307, or the Philippine Carabao Act of 1992.

Invoking the mandate of RA 7307, ex-President Estrada funded the establishment of the Philippine Carabao Center in Nueva Ecija. The PCC is tasked to come up with ‘Super Buffaloes’ that can produce more milk and meat to reduce the country’s import dependence on carabao meat, milk and dairy products. Late in 2007, according to Filipino scientists, the PCC initiated a study to breed a “super water buffalo” that could produce four to 18 liters of milk/day using gene-based technology.

The Philippines is only two percent self-sufficient in producing the demand for milk and dairy products, and spends around P26.1 billion annually for imported milk and dairies. That’s why, if we improve the breed of our buffaloes, it could help bring down the prices of beef and other meat products, not to mention milk and other milk products here.

The PCC had some success in reproductive biotechnology in 2004 when the first test-tube buffalo was born on April 5, coinciding with the birthday of President Arroyo. Incidentally, the test-tube buffalo is a female and was named “Glory” after the President. Hopefully, the new buffalo-breeding program tie-up with Brazil would be able to produce the kind of buffaloes with high yielding milk production and good quality meat products.

Despite the success of the PCC in trying to produce “super buffaloes,” Estrada was still the butt of the joke for this “Carabao Law” as his only legacy. This is because he is known for his self-deprecating jokes over his speaking “carabao English” or broken English in the roles he played in his movies while still an actor.

When I was young, I also used to hear the joke “kalabaw lang ang tumatanda” as a riposte to parry digs over age of men and women. But now, this phrase has been replaced with “amoy lupa” or in rough translation, smells like soil to mean someone’s old age.

This phrase has caused another eruption of sorts of old conflict between the two former Presidents over text jokes about their running again for office in the coming May 2010 elections.

In a statement sent to The STAR the other day, Margaux Salcedo clarified the context by which Estrada was quoted as having quipped “amoy lupa” in reference to Ramos. She explained that this is just like many other text jokes that refer to Estrada because of his rising ratings from among the presidentiables in mock poll surveys by both the Pulse Asia and Social Weather Station (SWS).

An irked FVR called a press conference to make return potshots at Erap. The 81-year old FVR hurled the challenge to 72-year old Erap to run in a marathon race from Malacañang Palace all the way to Tanay, Rizal which served as the latter’s rest house detention.

Reacting to FVR’s challenge to Erap to run in a marathon race, Salcedo said it must be taken as just another “Erap-FVR joust a playful repartee.” She added: “We have to understand that the two statesmen are just kidding. Men of such stature have earned their right to boast and challenge the other even in jest once in a while.”

While poking fun at each other’s age, Estrada, though, is serious in his plans to run again in next year’s presidential race. That is, if the much younger opposition aspirants would not agree to join forces behind a single presidential candidate.

Incidentally, this one is no joke. A runaway carabao created a scene in San Juan City yesterday as cops gave chase to the wayward one amid traffic.

This is no ‘carabao joke’ from Erap.

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