MANILA, Philippines – Who do you consider a hero?
Often depicted wearing capes and having superpowers, fictional heroes have appeared in many incredible forms, like that of a billionaire fighting crime in a bat suit or as an alien with unearthly strength and speed.
However, true heroes are not just a work of fiction. In fact, they walk among us in the form of soldiers, police officers, and teachers.
The Metrobank Foundation honored 30 Filipino heroes as they gave awards to Outstanding Filipinos on September 5, 2016 at the Metrobank Plaza Auditorium in Makati City.
The Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos awardees consisted of the winners of The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers (TOPS), the Country’s Outstanding Police Officers in Service (COPS), and the Search for Outstanding Teachers (SOT).
The awards recognized 30 noteworthy individuals comprising of 10 soldiers, 10 police officers, and 10 teachers who have given exemplary service and inspire others.
A total of P15,000,000 was awarded with each of the awardees receiving P500,000, a trophy, and a gold medallion in honor of their service.
Among these outstanding Filipinos was teacher Rujealyn Cancino. As the first teacher from Pangasinan to win the Metrobank award, she was recognized for her dedication in teaching and her constant involvement in projects in her community. She is currently a teacher of English and Science to grade six students.
Ms. Cancino said the award serves to further encourage her to continue teaching. She cites her students as the source for her and her fellow teacher’s determination, “they (students) are the reason why we are outstanding teachers.”
Her advice for her fellow teachers to achieve excellence: “teach not to impress or be recognized, teach not to suppress but teach to make a difference.” She hopes that her award “will give inspiration to our fellow teachers.”
Outstanding Philippine Soldier awardee, Chief Fernando Junio Parcon shared that this achievement was a cause for excitement and pride not only for him but also for his fellow soldiers as well. “It is a huge honor to be recognized by the public” he said.
As a recipient of eight military medals, Chief Parcon is no stranger to recognition. He has now even more determined to serve the Philippines and his countrymen. Despite his busy schedule as an intelligence officer, Chief Parcon finds time to mentor the youth through a clinic that conducts free sports programs.
Chief Parcon said the award is a source of inspiration for him and his colleagues. “Ito rin ay naging daan rin para maging inspirasyon sa aming mga kapwang sundalo para mag work hard na gagawin nila ang mga task nila,” he said. (This is also a way to inspire our fellow soldiers to work hard and do their tasks.)
Police Senior Superintendent Jalla is the chief of PNP crime laboratory. She’s credited with institutionalizing best practices for Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO). “I’ll be giving back to the community. Hindi naman pwede na tumanggap ka lang,” Jalla said. (It’s not right just to accept things.)
“Working with the community, ito talaga ang thrust namin.” She added. (Our thrust is to work with the community.)
Cancino, Parcon, and Jalla are just the 3 of the 30 awarded heroes. Here are the following individuals who were recognized as Outstanding Filipinos.
From the Philippine Army:
- Lieutenant Colonel Eliglen Ferrer Villaflor PA
- Technical Sergeant Danilodelos Santos Ramos PA
- Technical Sergeant Bernardo Labao Tacbas PA
From the Philippine Navy:
- Lieutenant Colonel Wilfredo Baylon Manalang, Jr. PN(M)
- Staff Sergeant Albert Dangan Eleazar PN(M)
- Intelligence Specialist Chief Fernando Junio Parcon PN
From The Philippine Air Force:
- Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Alina Bañaria PAF
- Master Sergeant Abel Lim Idusma PAF
- Technical Sergeant Andersen Daing Avellana PAF
From the Technical Administrative Services:
- Colonel Jocelyn Pancrudo Turla MC
Outstanding police officers:
Police Commissioned Officers
- PCInsp. Ryan Manongdo
- PSupt. Jemuel Siason
- PSSupt. Susan Jalla
- PSSupt. Mario Rariza Jr.
- PO2 Fatima Lanuza
- PO3 Nida Gregas
- SPO1 Mhay Rubio
- SPO2 Jeffrey Ojao
- SPO3 Hamidhan Tebbeng
- SPO3 Ezrael Lantingan.
Elementary School Teachers
- Winona Diola
- Rujealyn Cancino
- Josephine Chonie Obseñares
- Arnol Rosales
Secondary School Teachers
- Dr. Roy Basa
- Nelson Agoyaoy
- Ma. Regaele Olarte
- Dr. Katherine Faith Bustos
- Dr. Ernelea Cao
- Dr. Mark Anthony Torres
Igniting a flame
Given to each awardee, the trophy created in an image of a flame shining brightly is an accurate depiction of what the award hopes to achieve – to start a spark that Vice President Leni Robredo said in her keynote speech, ignites “the flame of heroism in our hearts.”
Mr. Arthur V. Ty, the Chairman of Metrobank and Vice-Chairman of the Metrobank Foundation shared in his welcome address that the award hopes to create an avenue for the awardees’ “light to shine so others can be inspired”.
The search for the 30 heroes does not only recognize those who rendered feats of excellent service but also urges others to similarly pursue excellence in their own fields.
This sentiment was echoed by Metrobank Foundation President Aniceto M. Sobrepaña when he said, “what we have learned through the years of recognizing the best teachers, soldiers, and policemen is this – excellence breeds further excellence.”
“These exceptional individuals honored today will be our partners in inspiring the nation towards action, towards a more peaceful, equitable and prosperous Philippines,” he added.
At the end of her speech, Vice President Robredo encouraged everyone in the audience to follow the awardees’ example and “descend into the world and be with the lost, the last, and the least of our brethren.” She called everyone to become the heroes who improve other people’s lives through commitment and service.
In the acceptance speech on behalf of the awardees, outstanding teacher Dr. Mark Anthony Torres said, “the stories of our awardees here tonight, redefine our notion of heroes.”
Dr. Torres is a biologist and the head of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology’s Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao. He is recognized for his efforts as a co-convenor of the Lanao Peace Partnership and Bantay Kalilintad, engaging underserved stakeholders in the peace process.
“We are ordinary people who have done extraordinary things” Dr. Torres added.
The awardees are proof that indeed, heroes are not only found in works of fiction but also in our day to day life where every ordinary Filipino can transform into an inspiring hero. – Rappler.com
Michael Valera and Andrea Ocampo are Rappler interns.
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