EARLIER this week, I sponsored in the Senate a resolution commending this year’s Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos — teachers, policemen and women, and soldiers who have achieved a level of excellence over and above their mandates and responsibilities in their respective professions.
In my speech, I said that we as Filipinos have no better reason to be proud to be Filipinos than when our countrymen go beyond what is minimally expected of them, and render such service and offer such sacrifice that their communities are greatly transformed for the better.
The selection process was arduous, whittling down a long list of 250 nominees to only 10 winners — four teachers, three police and three soldiers. I was honored with the opportunity to chair the Board of Judges that conducted the interview for the final candidates.
With me were Supreme Court associate justice Noel G. Tijam; Department of Justice secretary Menardo I. Guevarra; Makati City mayor Abby Binay-Campos; former Department of Education secretary Armin A. Luistro; Chairman of Philippine Business for Social Progress Manuel V. Pangilinan; Rockwell Land president Nestor J. Padilla, and Rappler editor-at-large Ma. Teresa D. Vitug.
It was also an honor to serve on this board since my late father, former Senate President Edgardo J. Angara has been credited with helping Metrobank founder George S.K. Ty with conceptualizing and organizing the very first Search for the Outstanding teachers back in 1984, when he was still UP President.
The greatest honor though was to interact and be inspired by some very remarkable individuals — who, at their core, are fundamentally ordinary citizens, with families to care for, conflicts to face and dreams to pursue. One realizes that not all modern-day heroes are larger-than-life individuals.
In the teacher category, winners were Mary Jane S. Ramo from Tonggo Elementary School (Tudela, Misamis Oriental), Dr. Alma S. Janagap from Pavia National High School (Pavia, Iloilo), Dr. Aimee C. Gragasin from Philippine Science High School-Cagayan Valley Campus (Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya), and Dr. Carla B. Dimalanta from the National Institute of Geological Science (NIGS) in UP Diliman.
The awardees in the soldiers’ category include Major Francis A. Senoro, Assistant Division Chief of the Logistics Management Division of the AFP; Lieutenant Colonel Danilo T. Facundo who headed the Marine Corps Battalion in Palawan; and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Ryan R. Seguin of the Air Force.
Finally, for the police category, those awarded were SPO1 Aida L. Awitin from Davao Occidental; Police Senior Inspector Dennis Ebsolo from Chief of the Villanueva Municipal Police Station in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental; and, Police Senior Superintendent Pascual G. Munoz, Jr., Chief of the Supply Management Division of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Teachers, soldiers and police are not the only ones who deserve praise. However, the awards do underscore that these professions are essential to our nation’s development and long-term prosperity. Soldiers defend our borders, and keep us all safe from harm. Policemen enforce our laws and help maintain order throughout our society. Teachers imbibe not just the knowledge and skills, but also the habits, attitudes and values every person needs to become good citizens. All allow life to flourish across our nation.
By shining a light on these exemplars, hopefully we entice more of our best and brightest to enter these professions—and demonstrate to them, the kind of greatness they are capable of achieving as Filipinos.
Sen. Sonny Angara was elected in 2013, and now chairs the Senate committees on local government, and ways and means. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara)/PN