Rediscover self-sufficiency

CTALK - Cito Beltran () - June 18, 2010 - 12:00am

If there is one positive thing that TV and radio stations excel in, it would be in their outreach programs or “public service”, particularly when they go to out of the way to distant places to bring food, medicines, educational materials as well as a message of hope.

Unfortunately this area of excellence is often buried by the overwhelming negativity of commentaries alongside the tabloid-style presentation of news and current affairs programs.

By choice, the broadcast industry has prioritized news with commentary at an average of six hours a day, while tabloid style news programs are beamed at an average of three hours a day including the “news flash” on the hour.

Sadly, there is a study that claims that all you need to do is listen to five minutes of negative news daily for a couple of months and this will certainly make you less optimistic and more cynical, eventually causing you to have a more negative outlook.

In contrast, TV news programs only allot five minutes to feature the really good things they excel in such as their outreach programs. Oftentimes, activities that are really life changing seem to be featured in the news more to ease or soften the harshness of the news, or as an act of washing their hands and legitimizing their social responsibility.

Because the good deeds are treated more like an afterthought, the solutions offered by the outreach programs tend to be monetary or temporary.

Stepping back from the daily reports, I am inclined to think that there is a better way. But we must all agree to move away from our “fast food-microwave-instant mentality” of doing things.

The icons of Philippine mass media must step up to a different plate and a new role. As key opinion leaders, they should not only be the bearers of ill tidings and exposés, they should also be the messengers, endorsers and heralds of hope.

If Joe Taruc, Mike Enriquez, Ted Failon, Rey Langit, and other well known broadcasters agreed to promote “The Filipino way” or “Mga Gawaing Filipino” they would effectively inspire many to be self-reliant, self-sufficient and patriotic.

We keep talking about mass communication and yet what exactly are we communicating. We talk about issues, we talk about politics, but media has never carried one popular positive concept.

Media personalities have not jointly endorsed a lifestyle or a way of life based on what Filipinos can do instead of what they can or should buy.

The icons or endorsers of Philippine media and marketing such as Kris Aquino, Diether Ocampo, Aga Mulach, Angel Locsin can give back by endorsing a love for self-sufficiency.

The lesson about teaching people to fish has constantly been derided as cliché, the song about planting rice succeeded in brainwashing generations of Filipinos into thinking that farming is painful and hard and not worth it.

The challenge is for media and celebrities to stand back and ask, Am I willing to make a change and carry the message? Any program in this day and age MUST have icons, endorsers and messaging.

I have recently gone through a process of rediscovering “backyard farming” and in 6 short months, my wife Karen and I and some friends have tasted the fruits of our labor. We have harvested lettuce, pechay, okra and onion stalks from our roof deck garden of 30 square meters. We duplicated this in our weekend place in Lipa and achieved the same results.

Believing in the great nutritional value of coconut, I searched for actual applications of coconut in animal farming. I always said that coconut would probably be useful in increasing the anti bodies and resistance of farm animals making preventive medicine unnecessary.

I discovered someone who raised and fed his chickens on 90 percent coconut grating because he had no money to buy processed feeds. His chickens were healthier and leaner than those in the nearby gamecock farms or poultry.

We combined processed feed with coconut gratings and rediscovered that pigs were healthier and leaner.

The point I’m making is if we want to feed poor malnourished Filipinos, six years is enough to get the job done. But we need to have a plan that sells an idea and uses what is common or can be made available to many.

We have coconuts all over the Philippines but we need more. We need to stop the cutting of these trees because they are trees of nutrition and not for lumber purposes. We have saba bananas and we need more distribution in order to use their fruits and trunks for feed. We need to promote a specific plan that would provide the feed base for the animals that people can then raise such as “native chickens”.

In the last six months, I clearly saw that very few homes now kept native chickens. While Metro Manila and the world rave about free-ranged chickens, all you ever see are imported French and Israeli hybrids. Now we are developing real Filipino stock based on all the old varieties. Taste the difference just by eating commercial poultry eggs and “native” eggs.  

Lets bring back the native pigs. They’re the right size for village level consumption, taste better, require less feed and less care.

People have stopped tending to a cow or a goat, because we allowed all the negative, factory-produced myths to take root. Cows and goats don’t ruin gardens or farms, lazy owners who don’t buy a rope cause the problem.

Vinyl school bags don’t have as much charm and sustainability as bayongs, baskets made of yantok, buri, pandan, bamboo and nipa.

It will take all of six years, but each time we visit a barrio, we will surely have something to celebrate as well as more things to eat. But first, we must carry the message and run with it so others can eat.

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