A double farewell

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

A Double Farewell, that was what former Senator Edgardo Angara left me.

What started out as an interview for our show “AGENDA” on Cignal TV turned out to be the last interview of the late Senator. As shocked as I was to read about his unexpected demise, I was even more shocked to find out that his last column in the Manila Bulletin was about our interview and the issues we tackled during the interview.

Ironically, while I wanted to focus on “battle fatigue” among current cabinet members, SEJA or Senator Edgardo J. Angara was actually more concerned about how and why the Philippines was not getting media coverage and good publicity from ASEAN or the regional media outlets and networks. It actually upset Ed Angara that most of the news that spread in the region about the Philippines was about drugs, the mess in Boracay and our recent spar with Kuwait. He bemoaned the fact that in spite of being the hottest economy and the fastest growing investment area, the Philippines was not getting the expected media mileage he imagined it would.

I did share with him that part of the problem is that the local networks tend to focus on the “negatives” while demanding payment for any material that regional or ASEAN news organizations might want to broadcast outside the Philippines. The other problem I pointed out was the fact that local TV and their program directors have no understanding and appreciation for developing TV shows that incorporate lifestyle, livelihood with agriculture, tourism and urban development.

In fact, most of the award winning works that the two major networks produce and enter into “competitions” abroad often focus on poverty, war, religious conflict, or the already used and abused topic of Duterte’s war on drugs. Like it or not those are the basis and standards by which TV producers and editors seem to operate on. Everything is always about “fast breaking news” and political issues, so the viewers never get to see the good things or the possibilities in the Philippines and not just in Metro Manila.

This apparently caught Angara’s interest so much so that he said he would meet up with the bosses of TV-5 and One News PH to share his concern in promoting the country’s achievements that would be interesting to foreigners and investors. Unfortunately, SEJA’s demise cost us another champion for developmental and positive TV.

Another thing that Ed Angara and I had hoped to talk about in the future was about developments in agriculture, livestock and marine farming as well as tourism particularly for the province of Baler that he loved so much. Senator Ed Angara even insisted that I visit him in Baler to talk about a long term Tourism Development plan for his province. Sadly, Ed Angara’s Double Farewell ended it all. We thank him and his family for his many contributions to the nation and may we all remember him for the good he did for others. May he Rest In Peace.

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In general, those of us who work so hard to earn a living, don’t really like the idea of dole outs or giving out cash to people who don’t even work for it. This is part of the reason why the government’s CCT or Conditional Cash Transfer program is not popular even in a Catholic or Christian nation such as ours.

So when I heard about how the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the province of Pampanga developed their 4Ps program into a foolproof project, I was all ears! What the DSWD did was not to give out cash but to enlist their poorest of the poor beneficiaries into a hog-raising project for 500 persons. Each participant-beneficiary was given one piglet with a per unit value of P2,500. The DSWD then coordinated a series of continuing training and seminars for the participants and organized the assignment of feed stores or dealers who would supply the weekly feed requirement for each piglet. The whole thing was done through public bidding and insured that the piglets were fed well and fed right and that no money was changing hands and being pocketed for the wrong reasons.

Because of the nature of the project and its end goal, the DSWD bidding process resulted in offers that highlighted technical and veterinary support as well as the ability to provide quality materials particularly the piglets. These of course are the core strengths of BMeg and the reason the team was chosen to help the 4Ps beneficiaries achieve their goals. The beauty of it all is that the project works so well that the beneficiaries have gone full circle, sold their hogs for a profit enough to start all over without needing anymore dole outs or cash assistance from taxpayers money.

I hope that the DSWD implements the model all over the country and expand it to other livestock particularly poultry or live chicken. If the poorest of the poor can be taught the important fundamentals particularly vaccination and proper care, there is no reason for people to go hungry. I have done “experiments” in an area less than 3,000 square meters and have successfully raised domestic hogs, wild boars or Baboy Damo; poultry egg layers, meat type chickens as well as tilapia. That small area also produces two varieties of bananas and other seasonal fruits. It can be done; all the DSWD has to do is work with the Department of Agriculture as well as expert organizations such as BMeg who has the training and support structure in place all over the country. Lets all “help the least of our brothers and sisters because by doing so we do it unto the Lord.”

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