Earlier today, I watched Joseph Morong’s Fact or Fake episode on “Nabukbok na Bigas: Kakainin mo ba?” (https://www.facebook.com/gmanews/videos/2215377228787759/). It was very good that my friend and colleague Dr. Pio A. Javier, another entomologist, was interviewed there. My note on the rice weevil, Sitophilus oryzae (Linnaeus), was based mainly on what has circulated in the news and social media. Dr. Javier has clarified and reported what he collected, observed and identified: three other beetles, which being small grain consumers, are within the broad vernacular term “bukbók.” They are: (1) the sawtoothed grain beetle, Oryzaephilus surinamensis (Linnaeus); (2) flat grain beetle, Cryptolestes sp.; and (3) the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum (Herbst).
As one of the living experts on stored product pests in the Philippines, Dr. Javier’s identification of the insects is the most reliable, so far, in this ongoing rice problem. After all, among the living stored product entomologists, he has the longest years of experience. Also, he was a student of one of our esteemed professors in the old Department of Entomology (now part of the Institute of Weed Science, Entomology and Plant Pathology, in UPLB), none other than the late Dr. Belen Morallo-Rejesus, whose book on postharvest and stored products remain as the bible for beginning stored product entomologists.
Despite the taxonomic differences from what I had earlier posted, pest management technologies are in place for the control (or management) of stored grains, mainly through fumigation using phosphine. In relation to this, another entomologist, my friend and classmate, Chief Miriam Amoranto Acda of PhilMech, has an upcoming paper in the scientific journal The Philippine Entomologist on the development of resistance to phosphine among stored product insect pests in the Philippines.
Our predecessors like Dr. Rejesus prepared the paths for us, and we, the present corps of entomologists, albeit dwindling, remain steadfast in our commitment to serve the Filipino farmers and consumers.
And the conclusions remain the same: the present problems we have are beyond what we, in Entomology and Pest Management, can prescribe. To reiterate: “Nobody deserves to eat food that is considered low quality, if not altogether rotten; and all the more, when that food is staple and has become quite costly. Filipinos deserve much better, or rather, the best.”
– Ireneo L. Lit, Jr., Ph.D.