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Monday, September 08, 2008

THAT DOES IT: Nobody Taught Us How To Plant Rice

You may consider this entry a rant. It’s just that I am so sick and tired of hearing “We taught you how to plant rice blah-blah” a million times in my lifetime and I have taken it like a real Thaiwith non-confrontation “yeah-if-you-say-so” attitudeuntil now.


I met a group of Filipinos downstairs at the lobby (Sheraton Surabaya) earlier. Usual travel chit-chat and considering my deep affection for the Philippines, I always make it a point to be courteous and cool.

Until the conversation went to the RICE topic *again* – a standard pitch for Filipinos I meet around the world. “The Philippines taught the whole region the Science of Rice.”; “My country taught your country how to plant rice in the 60s.” “Thais, Vietnamese, Indonesians and our neighboring countries came to the Philippines in the 70s to study how to plant rice. The pitch varies but says the same thingthey taught US how to plant rice.

I am a big fan of GMA Network documentaries. My DVD collection is extensive and I have almost everything they aired (I’ll tell you where I got the unreleased episodes another time). Either Jiggy or Howie mentioned “the pitch” in one of their docus and I thought it was poor taste… let me point it out to you –

The Philippines DID NOT teach Southeast Asia (especially Thailand) how to plant rice.

The Tai People of ancient Thailand has been planting rice since 4,000 BC. And considering our continuous history, chances are, the knowledge has been handed down to this day. The earliest and most convincing archeological evidence for domestication of rice in Southeast Asia was discovered by Wilhelm G. Solheim II in 1966 in Non Nok Tha in the Korat area of Thailand.

Korat and the Angkorian Kingdoms of Cambodia had close ties later on in history. Rice is already a staple in the ancient kingdoms of Southeast Asia. And evidences of cultivated rice as old as 10,000 BC are discovered in Spirit Cave on the Thai-Burmese border as well.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which happens to be located in the Philippines may be the source of this worldwide/region-wide “pitch”…

The IRRI is a non-profit, non-government organization established by Ford and Rockefeller Foundations of America in the height of the Asian Americanization of the 60s. They chose the location [among many reasons] because the Philippines is America’s closest ally in those days. So... what if they have chosen Cambodia to be the location of IRRI? Would it mean that Cambodia "taught" all of us how to plant rice?

Why do you think PhilRice was established in 1986? The same function, same research, same purpose – but the Filipinos fully own it. So, IRRI [where a lot of Southeast Asians came for further studies] is, in fact, an AMERICAN institution.

And please don’t bother commenting “IRRI is located here, so technically…” because I don’t wanna hear it. The ADB Headquarters is located there so does that mean you guys “taught” us how to bank? Ha!


From this day on, if I hear that darn “pitch” again…

I’m gonna talk back.

****

--Pisanu in Surabaya
08 Sept 2008

31 Comments:

curbside_puppet said...

i love this post. it is so honest!

but i feel for you pisanu. must be really annoying (probably the right word to describe your rant) to hear such a thing over and over again.

i'm cool with what you have said. no problems whatsoever. the only thing that annoys me is the fact that hongkong to from us (the philippines) the title pearl of the orient.

the philippines can in no way have taught southeast asians how to plant rice even from the historical perspective! who were the very first filipinos? the aborigines? they don't even plant rice!

Allen Yu said...

things can get rather exaggerated when filipinos talk of their pride, I admit. I do that most of the times, honestly. haha.

Z said...

Pity for those who are saying IRRI ( location - Philippines) taught Southeast Asia how to plant rice. They dont know World History.haha

Anonymous said...

i think when they say that they don't mean the historical and traditional planting of rice. they mean the modern methods and hybrids in order to maximize rice production. something just got lost in translation. peace.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jake Tornado said...

Don't worry. The pitch will soon change.

Filipinos you will meet around the world will soon proclaim: "We taught Southeast Asia how to be the world's most sought-after employee." Now, that's a big leap from planting rice to cleaning toilets. :)

Roman Paul said...

cool down Pisanu.... you might die.... i think i'm one of those who said it to you ( on the Philippine Independence Day article),,, sorry ....

- jUbeRtjOhN - said...

don't get me wrong Pisanu but I think what they meant(the Filipinos you've talked with) is the modern method of planting rice. In the 1960s, Asians started to flocked in the Philippines to learn more about the modern methods, maybe here came the *pitch*. But don't worry I'll give you a defense - If is it true that the Philippines taught SEA to plant rice, why is it it's the WORLD'S biggest rice importer?wahahaha.peace.

Roman Paul said...

hey jubertjohn, are you a Filipino? thailand and vietnam are irrigated by the great mekong river + they have a better weather... philippines does not have either of them ( poor irrigation and we're on the path of super/typhoons + one of our food baskets "Mindanao" is held in war... we are 92% rice independent and we have to import the remaining.. imagine the "great rice surplus" if Mindanao is converted from a war zone to a farmland.. another, philippines is the world's largest consumer of rice, followed by thailand and japan respectively.. FYI only...

Grant (BISEAN Ed.) said...

To 2nd anonymous...we know all your details. You used PoorAsian/DirtyAsian/Smelly Asian on blogs around the blogosphere. Here's your postal code - GU21 5RW Genesis Business Park in Woking, UK. One more bad comment from you, we will publish your name and attack your computer, mate.

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

I've actually read that anonymous comment before Grant deleted it...

Anonymous *not really now* from Woking...I am glad you are NOT even a fraction of the British populace. Your opinion doesn't mean a thing to us, so don't waste your time.

The Brits are one of the warmest people in Europe. You certainly are one cold turkey.

Your country doesn't need you, Thailand abhorrs you and Asians look at you (personally) as just another loser from a foreign land.

Goodluck.

- jUbeRtjOhN - said...

Roman Paul, first of all I'm a Filipino and I'm proud to be one. Im not arguing if thailand and vietnam has a more conducive condition for rice planting. IRRI, as far as I know, built their research center here because at that time, 1960s to 1980s I think, the Philippines was one of the biggest exporter of rice in our neighboring nations. But now (what's the year now?), the Philippines (note:an agricultural country) depends most of its rice supply to its neighboring SEA nations in general and vietnam in particular to feed the 91 million hungry stomachs. Peace Roman Paul.

TAO said...

Well, glad we got that one out of our system....

The real issue isn't who taught whom to do what....its more about who took the knowledge and was successful at it. So, who is the largest exporter of rice?

That should be the "title" that everyone seeks....

Allen Yu said...

Hi guys! I just want to thank you for this really wonderful blog. I've been reading it for months now. I made a report about Laos and its neighbors on one of my subjects yesterday. I got most of the information from BISEAN and I got a 1.0 (A+) Grade! The panel said they were awed about how I presented the subject. My lecturer even asked if I've been to Laos. I said I just read about it.

I'm just so happy that my everyday visit on this blog payed off. Aside from making me laugh, you made me the best in class! woohoo!

You're not just influential, you're educators as well! Thanks to the great men (and woman) behind BISEAN!

kop jai lai lai!

Maraming Salamat!

Curbside Puppet said...

@ grant,

woohoo! i love grant!

Anonymous said...

fair question jubertjohn, but the philippines' problem is not about knowledege or hard work for that matter. it is about ecomomics, (proper irrigation systems and affordable fertilizers or access to the right hybrids), geography (yearly typhoon visits), population (or lack thereof)and corruption (money siphoned by politicians earmarked for infrastactors(roads, drying facilities, proper storage facilities), etc. peace.

- jUbeRtjOhN - said...

Anonymous, whatever you say it won't change the FACT that our beloved nation is importing rice from its neighboring nations.

salingPUSA said...

Conventional or modern, I never brag about the Philippines teaching other countries how to plant rice. Don't get me wrong, I am proud of being a Filipino but I am never PROUD of our FAILURE for self sufficiency in rice PRODUCTION. IRRI was in the Phil, yes, it should have been our advantage, but we never learned. I hate it.

Carlos Javier said...

Aww... guys, guys! The Chinese claim archaeological evidence of Rice cultivation in the Jiangxi region from as early as 9000 BC, so I guess that means they taught us all how to plant rice.

I've heard the 'standard pitch' many times before too, but I think it really isn't meant literally (unless it was a totally ignorant person saying that) but rather in reference to the pioneering work of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in rice production.

IRRI - located in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna - produced the world's first "modern rice," called IR8, in 1966; it has since produced other high-yield and disease-resistant rice hybrids since that are now widely planted all over Asia.

It was IR8 that paved the way, however. Yielding five tons per hectare (2.5 acres) - more than twice the national average then - Vietnamese peasants given seedlings in 1968 called it 'than nong,' or "rice of the agricultural god."

These high-yield rice varieties eventually allowed a shift of the workforce all over Asia from labor-intensive agriculture and into industry, thus making everyone richer.

The standard pitch is meant more in irony - and is usually directed more towards other Filipinos [in typical hyperbole], because an institution that started the Green Revolution in rice is actually from the same country that is the biggest rice importer in the world today.

Just my two cents' worth. :)

Sofia for BISEAN said...

TAO has already ended this thread. No more appeals will be taken. Even from you sexy Carlos. Argh, sweeties, argh! LOL

Anonymous said...

sorry, pisanu. i hope you won't ask your king to ban rice exports to the philippines. by the way, i love jasmine rice from thailand.
if you're still mad, i'll cook rice for you by demand.
(by the way, most of us flips don't know world history). again, i'm sorry.

Erique Fat Owl said...

Khap khun mak mak for posting this rant. It's about time someone said it. GOD knows how many times I got into a bitter spat with the Filipinos about this...

In fact, what's with Southeast Asian people and rice anyway? Every one of us are always bragging about how good we are on rices. The Thais claim that their hom mali rice is the best of the best of the BEST in the world, The Filipinos brag about their IRRI, and us Indonesians always brag about how we're the first country to achieve "swasembada pangan" (rice self-sufficiency) in the 1980s and even with surplus to donate to Africa.

What's up with that??

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Enrique...because rice is the gold of the plant kingdom. Potato is silver and...uhm, trouffles is bronze? LOL

Thanks for all your interesting inputs to our comment section. BISEAN is nothing without any of you guys. *tears of joy flowing on my right eye* LOL

danyhael said...

actually, yeah. most filos are misinformed. i just can't help but wonder why when our teachers (when we were in grade one) taught us that two of our ancestors are the indo-chinese and the malays and they're the ones who taught us how to plant rice.

but again, i don't think filos are cocky in general. the most accurate word would be, misinformed. ^_^

Anonymous said...

well some of my countrymen have a false sense of pride (and an ignorant, all-knowing attitude - pardon the irony, too)

Anonymous said...

bias

lawrence said...

lol... you go tell 'em Pisanu!

i, too, (although i am Filipino) am sick of other Filipinos having too much braggadocio.

haha, i wonder how they'd react once they get a slap of history.

danyhael said...

woah woah braggadocio... isn't that word lovely? ...so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence.

Cathy said...

I was in UPLB when it was full of Thai students studying Agriculture. There is even a monument there built by the Thai student association. Of course, it's obvious that Thais knew how to plant rice for thousands of years before going to the Philippines! That's not the point. The point is, UP was a really good university until a few decades ago (as the Philippines was richer than Thailand a few decades ago), so it was right for the Thai government to send people to do their PhDs in UP when it was a very advanced learning institution. So, yes, it's really true, the Thais went to the Philippines to learn about Agriculture. I don't understand why this fact should piss you off. Now, of course, maybe Thai scientists are going somewhere else to learn more but that is not a bad thing. We can all learn useful things from each other.

Cheers!
cathy

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Hey Cathy, thanks for the first comment (?). No, the fact isn't pissing me off...it's the...well, read it again.

Thanks! =)

Cathy said...

Hi Pisanu,

I understood you the first time (maybe you should read it again). You are pissed because we keep on saying that we thought Thais how to plant rice. The answer is of course we probably didn't (who taught anybody anything will never be surely known) but the Thais did learn something from us when they came to study at our universities and it may have contributed greatly to the Thais' ability to produce a lot of rice today. Clear?

And me I am not piqued with you, but more with the Filipino commenters above who easily claimed that Filipinos have a penchant for a false sense of pride. In this case, there is something to be proud about. Unfortunately, there is also something to be very sad about. Proud because we were good once and sad (aside from the loser attitude of some of your Filipino commenters) because we have to say it in the past tense.

What the Thais did was progress with knowledge. Filipinos just flushed it down the toilet.

Cheers!
Cathy

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