Rice becomes GMA - Photos become her

This new blog and the series of photographs all taken by me begins my new exciting journey on telling little stories through big & small digital images. I’m not a professional photographer but, you know, the journey is the reward. (You can use my photographs as you wish. If you give me credit for them, thank you very much; if not, shame on you!)

In case you didn’t notice, with this blog, I officially differentiate a short story by L Frank Baum from a shot story by Frank A Hilario. Frank Baum is of course the Wizard of Oz, while Frank A Hilario is the Wizard of Prose of his own making – and in his own images!

This new shot story of mine continues but is independent of my earlier essay on GMA’S May 2 (Manila time) visit to IRRI (see my ‘Wars of the World,’ theserendipityman.blogspot.com). ‘Wars of the World?’ Of course! She is a Warrior Queen, if you didn’t know.


‘White-on-Blue Down!’ – May 02, on the campus of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Los Baños, Laguna, the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo touched down on a white-blue government helicopter from a white-blue sky. I was shooting from near the fence near the railway, under a mango tree, my back turned against the legendary, beautiful Mount Makiling. It was about 10:12 in the morning. The landing zone was an all-grass court actually, for IRRI staff playing ball games. Makiling watches them as the hours go by. All work and no play make Bob a dull boy.


‘Laugh And The World Laughs With You’ – Under a tent in the almost-noonday very bright sun, officials of institutions that had anything to do with rice were with GMA enjoying a light moment. I caught the scene but I didn’t catch the joke, if joke it was. From left, Robert Zeigler (DG, IRRI), Leo S Sebastian (Director, PhilRice), Fernando A Bernardo (past Deputy Director, IRRI), GMA, Arthur C Yap (Secretary of Agriculture), Darshan Brar (biotech, IRRI). American, Filipinos, Chinese, Indian: Seriously, they were going to collaborate on something that is no joke: Make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice by 2010, in 24 short months. Tall Order? No, Short Order by The Lady.


‘Rice becomes GMA’ – She had the full attentions of Sebastian (PhilRice, left), Brar (IRRI, background left) and Zeigler (IRRI, right). Farther back shows the rice variety IDSA77, tolerant of flooding in the field. She was a good student. I noticed she was listening intently. I heard her asking a question or two about varieties of tolerance. I was thinking of her tolerance for political noise. And another kind of tolerance (for more details on this, see my ‘Wars of the World’).


‘A Smile Becomes GMA’ – IRRI Deputy Director William Padolina and a smiling GMA with their own identifying hats before farmers in their authentic hats, if new. In those 1 hour or so that she was being told or shown about rice right in the experimental fields of IRRI, I noticed that GMA didn’t smile often. Former IRRI Deputy Director Fernando Bernardo said it was because the weather is hot. He meant both kinds: the physical weather and the political weather. That is because some politicians think they’re hot, when in fact they are only hot in the collar.

‘I can’t see!’ – In my excitement, I probably pressed the camera shutter too soon or the man (or woman) with the white back passed in front of my camera at the right time, which was the wrong time. It happens to the best man.

By the way, I was using my own Canon SuperShot A540, 6 MP camera – the model held by model Maria Sharapova? I like that girl’s spunk – and looks. As a photographer, I am always on the lookout for good looks. I learned to shoot 40 years ago - so many years looking for good looks.

Since this blog makes extensive & exclusive use of my own photographs, the better to be an outlet of my creative clicks, every now and then I shall give you some tips, tricks, techniques in taking pictures. So now, does this mean I’m a master in photography? No, it only means that I’m willing to share what I know. And no, it doesn’t mean my photography is perfect – but with my digital camera, I don’t have to scrimp on shots. In this instance, I have 100 shots of the GMA visit to IRRI – many of them GMA, of course.


‘Zeigler cuts GMA’ – Zeigler is emphasizing something bigger than his fist in fact. It must be IRRI rice technology, ‘the golden rice’ maybe? Should be interesting – a rice that has vitamin A. But right now, it’s ‘vaporice’ – not yet there. That’s Bob’s problem; he said fund support for IRRI science has been dwindling for years. If that trend is not reversed, it will not be a golden rice rising but a golden sun setting – and no promise of a bright tomorrow. (For more details on fund cuts, see my ‘Wars of the World,’ theserendipityman.blogspot.com).


‘Yap on the Noose’ – In terms of the rice price crisis and the aim to make the Philippines self-sufficient in rice by 2010, or 2 years from now, Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur C Yap’s head is really on the noose, if not on the chopping block. (That must be from GMA/Channel 7’s TV camera sling. I saw their mobile at the IRRI gate; GMA is so anti-GMA that I was reminded of the biblical story of barbarians at the gate.)

Do I deliberately shoot funny pictures? Nope. The main participants were moving so fast and they were being (literally) surrounded by many photographers that it was difficult to find an opening. (But I shoot almost as fast as I write.) You have to shoot without looking first. (You have to write without looking, first.) My Canon doesn’t have a viewfinder that swivels to the angle you want, or need. (Now I know what my next camera will be. Insatiable human desire.)


‘Field Men & Blind Mice’ – This is a more appealing scene than the way mass media – print, radio, TV, Internet – in the Philippines describe GMA’s tenure or performance. What’s the matter: Are the mass media people so blind they can’t differentiate the greens from the reds and the browns and the yellows and the blues and the whites? I wouldn’t think they deliberate distance themselves from the reality – or turn their backs, or refuse to do what is right. Unless of course I'm blind.


‘That’s The One’ – With these photographs, you don’t have to guess that I support GMA, President. If not I, who? If not now, when? I would support you if you were President, equity of the incumbent, you might say, unless of course you are as an obvious dubious as the joker from San Juan. Here, Zeigler is pointing not so much as to an IRRI variety (Wonderful) as to a sunnier future (Excellent). You have to believe!

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