By Antonio M. Ajero
Henrylito D. Tacio, the multi-awarded mainstay of Sun.Star Davao, seems unstoppable in his sally as an international writer.
One proof of this is Henry’s feature story on the importance of sleep published in the November issue of Readers Digest, particularly in the Indian and Asian edition.
This particular article is Henry’s 19th in the widely circulated monthly magazine since his first published feature on dengue sometime in 2003.
This means that an average of five of Readers Digest’s 12 editions in one year carry Henrylito’s contributed articles, a record batting average no other Filipino RD contributor can lay claim on.
But who is this humble guy literally from the boondocks of Bansalan, Davao del Sur? How did he start writing and become one of the most bemedalled Filipino journalists of this generation?
A feature article on Henrylito written by his own sister, Marilou D. Tacio, could provide an insight into this highly prolific but very humble writer who once bested such biggies in Philippine journalism as columnist Conrad de Quiros of the Inquirer and TV broadcaster Ces Drilon of ABS-CBN in the contest of the “Journalist of the Year” search conducted by the Rotary Club of Manila.
In that search, de Quiros and Drilon were awarded P100,000 each plus trophy, but Henry got P200,000. (Edith Regalado, a former reporter of Sun.Star Davao, also got P50,000 for being the best in Mindanao).
Here are excerpts from Marilou’s feature article on Henry:
“I have been following his environmental journalism for several years, and have been impressed by his prolific output, his wide range of reading, and his concern for his community and country. When other journalists have chosen to move to Manila to take advantage of the resources in the big city, he has opted to stay in Mindanao and practice his profession there.
“From his outposts, he has managed through his own resourcefulness to gain access to a broad storehouse of information, which is evident in whatever he writes. He tackles a wide assortment of topics, providing basic information about a wealth of relevant issues and problems.” So writes award-wining television personality Howie Severino of GMA’s (now ABS-CBN’s) “The Probe Team” of my brother, Henrylito Tacio.
Howie is not alone in his observation. National scientist Dr. Benito Vergara has this comment: “I am impressed by the clarity and impartiality of Mr. Henrylito D. Tacio’s articles. There are very few science writers in the Philippines and I know most of them personally. The dedication of Mr. Tacio to science reporting where others perceive it as a “non-glamorous” subject is worthy of praise.”
Don Rutledge, a multi-awarded American photojournalist, echoes the same view: “I have been deeply impressed by Mr. Henrylito D. Tacio’s journalistic ability to take vital subjects and discuss them through his writing ability. A most recent article is the one he did on cancer. He takes the subject, makes a solid study of it, and gives us valuable details what we need to know. Seem that he does this in all of his writings rather than just a few situations. He is a journalist far beyond the normal.”
Manoy Henry, as we call him, is the eldest son of Generoso Tacio and the former Saturnina dela Rita. He was born and grew up in Bansalan. He spent his elementary years in Villa-Doneza Elementary School. He attended the Southern Mindanao Academy (now known as South Philippine Adventist College) for his high school.
He finished his A.B. Economics from the University of Mindanao in Davao City and pursued his A.B. English at the University of Mindanao Bansalan College.
He started his writing career when he was still in high school. His teachers were impressed by the way he wrote his formal themes.
During his college days, he started writing for Tagalog comics and finally contributed an article – “What Children Say About Doctors” – which was accepted by Mod magazine. It was the start.
Years later, his byline started appearing in both national newspapers (Philippine Daily Inquirer, Today, Manila Times, Manila Chronicle, Malaya, and Manila Bulletin) and international dailies (Bangkok Post, for one) when he was accepted as one of the correspondents of the Manila-based Press Foundation of Asia, which released weekly dispatches called DEPTHnews.
In 1994, he started collecting journalism awards. First, it was the Binhi Award from the Philippine Agricultural Journalists, Inc. Then came the Science and Technology Journalism Award from the Philippine Press Institute.
In 1999, he was elevated to the Hall of Fame for winning five science awards, including two top prizes. Also, in 1999, the Rotary Club of Manila named him as “Journalist of the Year” over TV broadcast journalist Ces Drillon, the Siyasat Team (radio broadcast journalist of DWIZ), and print journalist Conrado de Quiros.
As a journalist, Manoy Henry has traveled abroad extensively. He has attended international conferences in Bangkok, Thailand; Tokyo, Japan; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Durban, South Africa; Melbourne, Australia; and Singapore.
One distinction about Manoy Henry is that he is one of the two Filipino journalists who write for the Asian and Indian editions of the widely circulated Reader’s Digest. In addition, he is the only Filipino author who writes for the Mental Floss, a magazine published and circulated in the United States.
Unknown to many, he is the only Filipino author to have contributed to the 2001 State of the World Population published by the United Nations Population Fund. Also, he is the only Filipino journalist to have co-authored a paper (with American award-winning environmental journalist Don Hinrichsen) on water and population for the Woodrow Wilson Institute for Scholars. The latter was written when he went to New York and in 2000 and was presented in Washington, D.C. in 2002.
Currently, he is the administrative assistant of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center. He also serves as consultant and technical editor of the book, “In Search of Excellence: Exemplary Forest Management in Asia-Pacific Region,” which was published by the regional office of UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Bangkok, Thailand.
But with all these travels, awards, and recognition, Manoy Henry is still the same person most people know. As Gregory Ira, director of the office of environmental education at the Florida Department of Environment Protection, who has known Henry before he is making waves as a journalist, puts it: “Mr. Henrylito Tacio is an accomplished and prolific writer who has demonstrated his commitment to rural development, environmental science, and public health. He possesses the character traits that are built over a lifetime. He is an honest, fair, and responsible individual.”
In an age where public relations and “spin” tend to define a person, Mr. Tacio stands out for his authenticity and humility.”
What Others Say About Him:
“I first heard of Mr. Tacio a couple of years ago when he was a correspondent of DEPTHnews, the development news and features service of the Press Foundation of Asia (PFA). PFA is the organization of newspaper publishers and editors in Asia and the Pacific and is based in Manila.
I was the manager of its training projects. The DEPTHnews editors were very pleased with Mr. Tacio’s work because he is prolific and writes on a wide range of subjects, which are all relevant and of current interest. His stories are well-researched, and his writing is clear and engaging – all qualities which have won for him awards, prizes and citations that I have been able to keep track of, particularly in the fields of health, science, and agriculture and environment reporting. As a person, Mr. Tacio is likeable: he is soft-spoken and unassuming and has remained humble and eager to learn despite al his accomplishments and the recognition he has earned.” — Mr. Vicente G. Tirol, former publisher of Pinoy Times
“Henrylito D. Tacio is one of the Philippines’ foremost journalists writing on environment and development issues.” — Don Hinrichsen, former head of information division of the UN Population Fund
“I appreciate his continuing efforts to write factually and objectively about forestry and the environment. His efforts are reflected well in the articles he writes.” — Dr. Patrick Durst, regional forestry officer, Food and Agriculture Organization, Bangkok, Thailand
“The writings of Mr. Henrylito D. Tacio exude with professionalism, especially in the way he handles correspondences and news articles. He balances the thought of his words, erasing all the biases that could otherwise stain the gist of information. He has that positive propensity to use words or phrases that everybody will not find hard to grasp. But most of all, he does serious research on the topics and objects of his interest – the trait that separates Henry from many of his peers.” — Dr. Miguel D. Fortes, 1996 winner of the International Biwako Prize for Ecology, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
“Henrylito Tacio is a prolific, informed and highly professional writer on the important environmental issues of our times. Unusually for this complex topic, his journalism spans the issues of science and technology as well as those relating to agriculture, health and the environment.” –John Rowley, editor-in-chief of London’s People and the Planet
“Heherson Alvarez and I both appreciate greatly his writing talent especially the depth of his research and his commitment to protect the environment.” — Mrs. Cecile-Guidote Alvarez, former Ramon Magsaysay Awardee