Stamps of approval

 Gene Hettel   |  
Photo: IRRI

(Photo: IRRI)

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which is based in the Philippines, the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC) has issued a set of four stamps celebrating the Institute’s important work in rice research for the world—much of it done in IRRI’s host country.

The four stamps were officially released by Philippine Postmaster General Hector R.R. Villanueva in a special first-day issue ceremony at IRRI’s headquarters in Los Baños on 14 April 2010, a date that coincides with IRRI’s official birthday as this is when the Board of Trustees first met back in 1960.

According to Elenita D.L. San Diego, acting manager of the PPC’s Postal and Philatelic Department, the PPC receives, on average, around 50 requests each year to produce commemorative stamps for various causes, subjects, events, and a variety of organization and celebrity anniversaries, but only around 20–30 can be produced annually. Some of the most recent Philippine stamps feature Philippine marine biodiversity, 90 years of Philippine Rotary Club activities, the 77th birth anniversary of the late former Philippine president Corazon C. Aquino, and now, IRRI’s 50th anniversary.

“We were only going to recommend one design to the PPC,” said Michael Jackson, IRRI’s former director for Program Planning and Communications. “However, our designer came up with so many great studies that we sent four different renderings, all of which were accepted by the PPC!”

The stamps’ designer, Juan V. Lazaro IV, is a self-taught artist who first joined IRRI in 1980 as a laborer in the Plant Pathology Division, working in the field, greenhouse, and laboratory. Now head of the Creative Services Section of IRRI’s Communication and Publications Services (CPS) and art director of Rice Today, Mr. Lazaro described the elements in the four stamps.

“In the first stamp, I incorporated an illustration of women transplanting rice—depicted as an element in IRRI’s original seal and logo introduced in 1961,” he said. “The second stamp incorporates a recent aerial photo of the 252-hectare facility located on the main campus of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, 60 kilometers south of Manila. The third stamp features a recent photo taken in the IRRI field plots and the fourth stamp depicts a representative verdant panicle of a high-yielding rice variety developed by IRRI scientists.”

This is not the first time the PPC has recognized IRRI with “stamps of approval.” A two-stamp set was issued on 27 May 1985 to coincide with IRRI’s 25th anniversary events.

Stamp collectors and hobbyists can order a souvenir folder, which features the four-stamp set and the official first day cover on a special envelope with a cancellation postmark dated 14 April 2010, by contacting IRRI’s Riceworld Bookstore at The cost is US$15 per set while supplies last.

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