Honoring the 2019 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos
Monday, September 9, 2019
Session Hall, Senate of the Philippines
Delivered by Hon. Win Gatchalian, Senator of the Republic:
Mr. President, esteemed peers in the Senate, good afternoon to you all.
I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege, to share with you the inspiring stories of ten exemplary Filipino leaders who have earned the praise and acclamation of this august chamber for their unwavering dedication to serving our beloved country.
Since 1985, the Metrobank Foundation, Inc. has recognized 665 Outstanding Filipinos for their invaluable contributions to nation-building in the fields of education, civilian peacekeeping, and military defense. This year, we are proud to add 10 new members to the venerable roster of leaders who embody the spirit of “Beyond Excellence”.
They are respected teachers, trusted policemen, and veteran soldiers whose pursuit of excellence in
their respective fields is surpassed only by their relentless fidelity to the noble imperative of service to their fellow Filipinos.
Mr. President, the awardees have been conferred with a trophy called The Flame. In the words of the Foundation:
“The FLAME represents our Outstanding Filipinos’ tireless dedication to serve without counting the
cost. It is excellence refined through seasons and struggles, shining brightly to touch hearts and transform minds. The FLAME is an inspiration and a challenge to become beacons of light for a better nation.”
Mr. President, as the Chairman of the Board of Judges for the 2019 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos, I have seen first-hand how the heroes we are honoring today truly embody the exaltant principles of the Flame. It is my distinct honor and privilege to commend our 2019 awardees. Allow me to introduce, individually, the Flames that light the way for the future of our people, in recognition of the distinguished feats they have performed during their long careers in public service.
First among our four teacher awardees is Western Visayas’ Paragon of Inclusive Education, Teacher Dorothy S. Tarol, Ph.D. from the Special Education-Integrated School for Exceptional Children in Iloilo City.
When she began to progressively lose her hearing at the age of 35, Dr. Tarol did not give up on herself, or her profession. Instead, applying the “principles-based resilience” that she lives by, she shifted her career to help people who were also experiencing what she had. Moving to the SPED-Integrated School for Exceptional Children, she became a champion for special education.
In 2011, she wrote an action research called: “Buddy Mediated Instruction (BMI): Pivotal Strategy for Spelling and Social Skills for Children with Hearing Impairment. Focusing on the top two learning gaps of persons with hearing impairment, namely spelling and social engagement, this innovative approach paired a quick learner with another who learns more slowly.
By removing the concept of “tutor-tutee” and replacing it with “buddy”, the discrimination and stigma is removed from the slower learner. This inclusive paradigm exemplifies Dr. Tarol’s use of “reading as a weapon,” as she would say: a weapon, perhaps, against the prejudice and bigotry that special learners often face.
Adapting Buddy Mediated Instruction to mother tongue teaching, Dr. Tarol’s efforts have made BMI a cornerstone
instructional strategy adopted by 178 schools in the DepEd divisions of Iloilo and Iloilo City. Dr. Tarol has also extended her efforts to introduce BMI to indigenous learners and persons deprived of liberty.
Our second awardee from the field of education is Quezon City’s Veteran Innovator in History Instruction, Teacher Cristina B. Cristobal, Ph.D. Throughout her 40-year career as a social science teacher, Dr. Cristobal has made her mark through the inventive reimagining of how history is taught at the Philippine Science High School – Main Campus.
Instead of forcing students to memorize facts and figures from textbooks, Dr. Cristobal created a new approach based on the direct reading of primary sources of history. In this way, students are provided opportunities to analyze documents, review data, and construct historical narratives firsthand.
In Dr. Cristobal’s words: “History should not be seen as a collection of facts to memorize, but a subject that connects present issues with past events.”
This novel method of history instruction is a strong model that serves as an example of how a more active, hands-on
approach to studying history can provide infinitely more profound takeaways for students as they apply the lessons of the past to the current state of affairs.
In addition to this, Dr. Cristobal also established Pisay Teach, which from 2010 to 2015 shared the best case teaching
practices of PSHS Main Campus with graduating education majors. Pisay Teach now lives on as Buklod Guro, a teacher
training program which focuses on improving the quality of teaching in madaris or Islamic schools across Muslim Mindanao.
The next educator to be awarded is the Philippines’ Foremost World War II Historian, Professor Ricardo T. Jose, Ph.D., of the University of the Philippines College of Social Sciences and Philosophy.
Dr. Jose has spent more than 40 years as a faculty member and former chair of the UP CSSP Department of History.
Dr. Jose’s claim to fame is that he is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the history of World War II in the Philippines and Asia. A prolific writer and historian, Dr. Jose has established a body of work that will serve as the foundational literature on World War II studies for many years to come. “This awareness of the past,” according to Dr. Jose, “would build a sense of pride and, hopefully, unity.”
Dr. Jose is a fixture of the University of the Philippines and one of its most respected and sought-after professors. Known for bringing awe-inspiring historical artifacts to his class, as well as his lighthearted but masterful lectures that always earn rave reviews from students, Dr. Jose has been awarded the Natatanging Guro award by the UP CSSP Student Council not once, but twice. This high regard from the students has solidified Dr. Jose’s position as
one of the most prominent social science professors in the country.
Last, but certainly not least, among our educator awardees is the Philippines’ Prime Mover of Genomic Medicine and Education, Professor Eva Marie C. Cutiongco-De La Paz, M.D., of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine.
Dr. Cutiongco-De La Paz is one of the pioneers of the emerging clinical subspecialty of clinical genetics and genomic
medicine in the Philippines. This is a critical field, according to Dr. Cutiongco-De La Paz, because it “seeks to answer the special needs of patients and families not met by any other existing specialties of medicine.”
Right now, in fact, Dr. Cutiongco-De La Paz is part of an international team of experts studying X-Linked
Dystonia Parkinsonism — a little understood brain condition which affects some Filipino males whose mothers hail from the Panay group of islands. Her research is critical to finding ways to treat patients suffering from this debilitating illness.
An educator for 22 years now, she established alongside Dr. Carmencita Padilla a Clinical Genetics Fellowship Program — the first and only one of its kind teaching and training in the subspecialty of Genetics in the country. Before this program, Dr. Cutiongco-De La Paz was only one of two geneticists serving the entire Filipino population.
Now, thanks to her dedication to medical education, there are now 16 geneticists serving 106 million
Filipinos. This exponential growth in the number of geneticists means that our country now has better capabilities to crack the code of mysterious emerging diseases that can only be solved through genetics medicine.
From the teachers, we move to the defenders of peace and order within our communities: the Flames of our police force. The first awardee is Camp Crame’s Anti-Human Trafficking Crusader, Police Chief Master Sergeant Marsha T.
Agustin, RSW, an Investigator and Social Worker with the Women and Children Protection Center at the Philippine National Police Headquarters.
A licensed social worker, Chief Master Sergeant Agustin took the road less traveled by her fellow social workers when she joined the PNP. 16 years later, it is clear that the road less traveled has taken Agustin and the PNP in the right direction, as she has pioneered a new investigative technique specifically tailored to suit the delicate needs of women and children who have been subjected to traumatic crimes.
The Social Worker-Police Investigative Technique in Handling Cases Involving Women and Children Victims, as it is
now called, stems from the belief that investigative requires a heart. It is less about acquiring the necessary information for a criminal investigation, and more about giving a marginalized and traumatized person the voice they need to tell their story and come to terms with what has happened to them.
This technique, which values the protection of the victim above all other considerations, is a manifestation of Chief Master Sergeant Agustin’s compassionate training as a social worker. Chief Master Sergeant Agustin says that while “life may be difficult for many”, she is “optimistic that there’s a rainbow in the aftermath of any storm.” Her life’s work has helped countless people see that rainbow, no matter how tragic their circumstances.
Next among our police force awardees is PNP’s Premier Cyber Cop, Police Major Robert A. Reyes, a Technical Support
Officer with the Counter Intelligence Task Force at the Philippine National Police Headquarters.
Major Reyes, a 19-year veteran of the force, is actually a computer scientist by training. It is no surprise, then, to learn that Major Reyes is widely considered to be the PNP’s Number One Cyber Cop. A pioneer member of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group in 2013, he has actually been fighting cybercrime long before the passage of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
One of his most notable achievements involved the identification and capture of the top Korean hacker from the Interpol Wanted List in 2011. Throughout his career, Major Reyes has investigated over 100 cybercrime cases.
More than being the PNP’s top gun in the emerging field of cyber crime, Major Reyes says he wants to be remembered as “a mentor, a builder of better police officers, and a friend whom one can call anytime for assistance”. This is the foundation of his pioneering role in the Counter Intelligence Task Force, which seeks to bolster public trust and confidence in PNP by strengthening integrity among the force.
Major Reyes is a respected mentor and educator within the police force, as he is one of the most sought-after lecturers for anti-cybercrime training with his fellow officers. Indeed, Major Reyes has played an irreplaceable role in training the next generation of cybercops who will be able to protect the people from identity theft, online harassment, and other forms of cybercrime. In short, Philippine cyberspace is a significantly safer place than it was before, thanks to the efforts of Major Reyes.
The third and final awardee from the police force is Batangas’ Vanguard of Public Safety, Police Colonel Edwin A. Quilates, Provincial Director of Batangas Police Provincial Office in Camp Miguel C. Malvar.
Colonel Quilates, who is also a lawyer by profession, has served in the police force with distinction for 25 years now. The
good colonel said: “Serving and protecting lives and properties have been my very source of fulfillment as bread and butter is to my life.”
The work of Colonel Quilates has not only been personally fulfilling, however. It has also been fulfilling as well for
Batangueños and the people of CALABARZON, who have enjoyed lower crime rates as a result of Colonel Quilates’s signature, Oplan Iron Curtain.
Implemented in 2018, the initiative streamlined the mobilization of police forces in and around Batangas during
investigations and manhunts. This led to the swift apprehension of suspects involved in shooting and robbery incidents.
To Colonel Quilates, police work involves more than catching bad guys. “I always try to become a catalyst for change,
making ripples to inspire others,” he has said. Certainly, Colonel Quilates has inspired change across Batangas province through several outreach programs he has conducted, such as: the Agapay Kabayan program, a community extension program which aims to provide basic needs and legal assistance to over 7,000 residents of Batangas City; Oplan Balik Armas, which seeks to prevent the illegal possession of firearms among Batangueños; and Simula ng Pag-asa or SIPAG Program for the rehabilitation of drug surrenderees into responsible citizens with renewed hope and purpose.
Next, let us go on to the stories of three Flames of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The first soldier awardee is Marawi’s Lead Explosive Ordnance Disposal Expert, Master Sergeant Ramil A. Caporas, Philippine Army, Team Supervisor of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion, Army Support Command of the Philippine Army.
Master Sergeant Caporas is driven by his calling as an “instrument for peace”, in his own words. In pursuit of this calling, however, Master Sergeant Caporas often finds himself in situations of great danger and violence as an explosive ordnance disposal or EOD expert.
During the five-month long Marawi siege, Master Sergeant Caporas led the crack team of EOD experts in charge of
recovering and disposing of improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnances. His team safely removed over 1,000 IEDs over the five-month period. This played a critical role in ensuring the safety of our brave men and women in uniform on the battlefield.
Master Sergeant Caporas has also helped saved the lives of civilians as well. The intervention of his team helped thwart a potential terrorist attack targeted as a school in Lamitan City, Basilian. We can only guess how many lives would have been endangered or even lost without the help of Master Sergeant Caporas.
Truly, the courage and resilience of this man — who so often puts at risk life and limb for the benefit of others during his 21 years of service — is nothing short of extraordinary.
The second Flame of the AFP is the Philippine Navy’s Special Operations Warfighter, Major Romulo G. Dimayuga II, Philippine Navy, Marines, Former Operations and Training Officer of the Force Reconnaissance Group, Philippine Marine Corps. According to Major Dimayuga, his early years as a Force Recon Marine “were marked with literal blood, sweat, and tears.” Indeed, throughout his storied career, Major Dimayuga has fought through it all.
He has fought through the jungles of Sulu, where his leadership as a platoon commander was instrumental to the
infiltration of the Abu Sayyaf camp and the neutralization of its top leader in 2006.
He has also fought through the mountains and forests of Northern Palawan against communist rebels. His innovative
approach to fighting the communist insurgency, which prioritized winning the hearts of the locals and offering rebels the chance to re-integrate themselves into society instead of bearing arms, was instrumental to the declaration of Palawan province as a Zone of Sustained Peace, Development, and Prosperity in 2014.
As if this were not enough, Major Dimayuga has even fought at the far reaches of the West Philippine Sea. From 2017 to
2018, he was Operations Officer of Marine Battalion Landing Team-12, which was in charge of conducting territorial defense of the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea.
Whether stationed in the mountains, in the jungle, or across the furthest stretches of the sea during his 17 years of
service, Major Dimayuga has always served with honor and distinction matched by few soldiers of his age.
The third and final Flame of the AFP whose story I would like to share is AFP’s Community and Organizational Transformation Warrior, Lieutenant Colonel John Paul D. Baldomar, Philippine Army, Chief of the Current Operations
Branch, Internal Security Operations Division (ISOD) of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
While some soldiers serve at the frontlines of violent confrontations and bloody battles, Lieutenant Colonel Baldomar
has spent 22 years at the frontline of a different but equally harrowing battle: the fight against poverty and hopelessness within war-torn communities. As a Company Commander of the 37th Infantry Battalion, 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, he went above and beyond the call of duty to serve the needs of internally displaced Tiruray families in Maguindanao.
The Tiruray community had been displaced from their ancestral lands by the lawless violence of illegal armed groups.
Troubled by the terrible conditions in which the Tiruray refugees were living, Lieutenant Colonel Baldomar rallied his troops, local government units, and non-governmental organizations to implement community-building programs such as infrastructure development for schools, farm-to-market roads, and a place of worship.
Thanks in large part to the work of Lieutenant Colonel Baldomar, the original Tiruray community of 95 displaced families at Sitio Kyamko in 2001 has grown to a proud self-sufficient community of more than 300 families in Sitio Kyamko, Sitio Bagong, and Sitio Peris. These families are living proof of Baldomar’s patriotic fidelity to his stated purpose in life: “To serve others and fight for those who cannot defend themselves.”
Mr. President, the stories of the ten Flames I have introduced to you today are nothing short of the stuff of legend. I
am humbled by the privilege of acknowledging and honoring their groundbreaking contributions in the field of public service. As their fellow public servant, I take their examples as inspiration to serve the people with as much vigor, devotion, and compassion as they have displayed throughout their long and distinguished careers.
And with that, allow me to leave you with the moving wisdom delivered by Lieutenant Colonel Baldomar during his
response on behalf of the 2019 Outstanding Filipinos during the conferment ceremony:
“Let us always serve with the simple principle in life: Do not
withhold good to those who need it, if it is in your capacity to do it.
Let us always find joy in helping others and never hold back. There
is no higher calling than to serve our country in any capacity that
we can. There is nothing more fulfilling than to see the impact of
our service in the lives of others.”
Mr. President, esteemed peers in the Senate, please join
me in saluting the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos of
2019 for their exemplary service.
Thank you, Mr. President. I now yield the floor.