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Everyday Heroes Wanted

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By Deedee M. Siytangco

Angel Thoughts

With so many things coming back in style, I can’t wait until morals and intelligence become fashionable again!”—Anonymous

Congratulations to President Rodrigo Duterte for upholding the right of those who feel and sympathize for the comfort women used by the Japanese military for their pleasure during their conquest of the country. There is a statue of a comfort woman along the baywalk, and it seems the Japanese embassy made it clear to the palace their displeasure over it and asked that it be taken down.

If this report is accurate, Duterte said “No,” the statue is a constitutional right of self-expression the group of comfort women and those who erected it. Bravo, Mr. President! Well said!  The statue remains.

* * *

Didn’t you readers felt good seeing our respected legal luminaries in the Senate recently as resource persons for the debate on the Constitutions? How to change it, abolish it, or mangle it, depends where you stand.

I salute former chief justices Hilario Davide, Reynato Puno, former SC justice and 1987 Constitution member assembly Adolf Azcuna and former senate president and author of the Local Government Code Aquilino Pimentel Jr. for their erudite opinions. Decorum and decency were back in the senate that day!

Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepena, leftmost, with the three outstanding Filipino awardees and the author at the Bulong Pulungan forum at Sofitel. Rosalino Ibay of the PNP, Col. Elmer Suderio of the Philippine Army, and Soof scientist Dr. Alonso Gabriel.

Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepena, leftmost, with the three outstanding Filipino awardees and the author at the Bulong Pulungan forum at Sofitel. Rosalino Ibay of the PNP, Col. Elmer Suderio of the Philippine Army, and Soof scientist Dr. Alonso Gabriel.

* * *

These are challenging times to be a public servant—especially a teacher, a soldier, and a police officer—in our country. But to say that exemplary public servants are a dying breed would be a great disservice to those who have selflessly pledged their lives in the pursuit of service to our nation. These individuals—who go about their work quietly, pursuing advocacies and initiatives that positive change in their respective communities—deserve due recognition. This was the message delivered by Chito Sobrepeña, president of the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. (MBFI) to media attendees during the Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel forum last week.

Nick Torres, executive director of the foundation also announced that another batch of 10 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos will be recognized—four teachers, three soldiers, and three police officers. Each awardee will receive a (hold your breath) R1 million cash reward (tax free), a trophy, and a gold medallion which will be awarded during Metrobank’s 56th anniversary celebration in September.

“Beyond professional accomplishments, we aim to look for everyday heroes who have gone beyond personal limitations to earn outstanding achievements,” said Sobrepeña. “The Metrobank Foundation is privileged to highlight their achievements in inspiring change in their respective institutions and for sharing their stories of steadfast commitment in nation-building,” he added.

We met three of the 2017 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos—Dr. Alonzo Gabriel (professor and university scientist, University of the Philippines-Diliman), Lt. Col. Elmer Suderio (head executive assistant at the Office of the Commanding General, Philippine Army), and Police Chief Inspector Rosalino Ibay, Jr. (District Intelligence and Operations Unit chief, Manila Police District). They talked about the challenges they faced, their advocacies, and the impact of the award in their lives. They also provided tips to potential nominees and personal reflections on why they thought they were selected.

Shy and humble Jun Ibay confided that he was honored being cited as one of the “Outstanding” Filipinos as it not only recognized his efforts as a policeman but it gave the PNP a lift in terms of how people regarded the force. “Iba na ho ang tingin sa amin ngayon.” he said.

 “It’s a very big honor for me and my fellow policemen and woman, and I am still overwhelmed by the response of various sectors to me. The recognition only gives me more incentives to do better in my work. “He has after been awarded by several organizations and is “Manila’s Finest Police Officer” helping out communities.

Ibay is well liked in Manila especially in Tondo where his interaction with the communities he has been assigned to has been very positive and productive. A regular attendee in Bulong Pulungan, businessman Henry Lato was happy in seeing his old friend at the forum and assured us that indeed, Ibay was an excellent choice for the Metrobank recognition. Ibay will put some of his prize money in a community housing project. He is now chief of the Intelligence Division of the MPD.

Elmer Suderio, tagged Basilan’s Trailblazer, on the other hand moved us when he said part of his prize money was to put up a memorial for those who died in the war in Marawi. He explained that after a few months being remembered by the public, the soldiers who perished are forgotten. The memorial, he explained, would contain names of soldiers and policemen who died fighting for their country. This way, their families could come and pay honor to them when they visit the area.

Before Marawi he also served in Basilan where his record of disciplining soldier-rejects assigned to him is legendary. He turned them into a lean and mean fighting force. Under him the once problematic soldiers became the best unit of the Scout Rangers.

After Basilan he was assigned to Marawi  where his bravery and concern for his men shone. He is now assigned to the office of the Army’s Commanding General as executive assistant. He has served in the Phil. Army for 28 years. His administrator skills and community development passion and work as well as his bravery in fighting terrorists are shining  achievements in Suderio’s bio data.

Under the search, teachers, soldiers, and police officers who are eligible to join must have a minimum of 10 years of service with at least “very satisfactory” rating in the last 10 years of service to their profession. Those who are set to retire must have at least three remaining years of service.

Nominations can be sent to the Metrobank Foundation website until March 1, Torres said.

Another awardee was 37-year old  Dr. Alonzo A. Gabriel, PHD, full professor in UP and University Scientist. His specialization is Food Science and Technology food security  a crucial national issue, one that deserves much deeper attention than it normally gets. The Philippines, being a tropical developing country, is especially at risk. The food in most Filipino households is a hotbed teeming with deadly organisms just awaiting an opportunity to infect society.

As a food science and technology professor at  UP  Diliman, he led the establishment of the country’s first and only Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Hygiene based at UP’s College of Home Economics (CHE). In the past, some Food Technology students would have to drop out of the course as they were unable to afford expensive laboratory experiments to complete their studies. But since its establishment in 2010, the laboratory has been opened to students and faculty not just from UP Diliman but other institutions as well.

Being one of the most productive laboratories in the whole university has resulted to various research papers being published internationally by Dr. Gabriel, his students, and fellow faculty. It has allowed Dr. Gabriel to pioneer novel technologies, such as the use of plasma and ultraviolet radiation in killing bacteria in food without destroying the nutrients.

Outside the university, Dr. Gabriel was a crucial member of the Philippine Food Defense Core Technical Working Group (TWG) convened by the Department of Agriculture and the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2011. The five-man TWG authored the Philippine National Food Defense Standard as a response to global conflict situations faced today. Bioterrorism poses a real threat, as even a very small amount of contaminant in food can be used as weapon to harm the whole humankind.

At the grassroots level, Dr. Gabriel’s desire to bring food security education down to the masses has led him develop teaching materials and conduct awareness drives and nationwide public consultations on food defense. A Gawad Chanselor Para sa Natatanging Guro awardee in 2016, Dr. Gabriel earned his undergraduate degree in Food Technology and his master’s degree in Food Science from UP Diliman. He received his Ph.D. in Biofunctional Science and Technology Major in Food Microbiology and Hygiene from Hiroshima University.

Recognizing the need to train officers in administrative responsibilities, Lt. Col. Suderio led the conceptualization of a three-unit subject for the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) curriculum, titled MA 341 or “Unit Administration” in 2006. Before the inclusion of MA 341 in the PMA curriculum, there were no subjects preparing cadets to tackle administrative functions in a military unit. This is important given that more than 50 percent of an officer’s time is actually spent handling administrative matters. Initially designed for cadets going to the Army, the course is now also major subject for members of the Navy and Air Force, benefitting about 300 graduates per year.

Beyond the bounds of duty, Lt. Col. Suderio understands the importance of winning hearts and minds if a just and lasting peace is to be achieved. As such, he worked to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) returnees after the organization signed a peace treaty pact with the government in 1998. Lt. Col. Suderio has also leveraged his strong working relationships with local chief executives and community stakeholders to implement activities such as medical missions and community support programs. Through initiating these civil military operations, he has helped bridge gaps between the military and the community.

Ibay, now the Chief of Manila Police District’s Intelligence and Operation Unit, Police Chief Inspector  has led numerous operations against the most notorious crimes in Tondo, including cases of robbery, murder, human trafficking, syndicated illegal recruitment, and prostitution. He has confiscated various counterfeit products such as diplomas and licenses at different locations in Manila, resulting to the arrest of several suspects and an increased public awareness and vigilance of such illegal businesses.

PC Insp. Ibay was instrumental in the resolution of unprecedented car napping cases in Manila, considered as the car napping capital of the Philippines. This led to the recovery of hundreds of stolen vehicles and motorcycles, arrest of numerous suspects, and filing of appropriate cases in court. To reinforce his anti-car napping initiative, PC Insp. Ibay developed the Manila CRAV Facebook Page—a digital platform where stolen vehicles are posted and netizens are notified of recent developments in real time.

Beyond police work, PC Insp. Ibay is an active community leader. In May 2010, PC Insp. Ibay authored the Barangay Management System (BMS), which files and organizes personal information records of all barangay residents. The BMS comes with a validated ID system, making tracking of residents and identification of criminals more convenient. To date, 35 barangays have been using the BMS. PC Insp. Ibay is also the founder and current vice president of the Buklod ng Alyansang Nagkakaisang Anak ng Tondo(BANAT), an active NGO.

No wonder Metrobank Foundation is so proud of its awardees. So send in your nominations. Let’s recognize our everyday heroes!

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