‘My God is mightier than COVID’

Published January 18, 2021, 12:58 AM

by Ignacio R. Bunye

SPEAKING OUT

Ignacio R. Bunye
Ignacio R. Bunye

Polio-stricken Jay Argana Espeleta has been awarded twice as an Outstanding Employee in 2019, ( runner-up), and 2020 as the outstanding employee of the year.

At age 5, Jay, a native of Muntinlupa,  was afflicted with polio, which severely deformed  his left leg and left foot. Although he underwent asuccessful surgical operation,  he continued to suffer severe pain. Worse, Jay suffered from bullying  because of  the way he walks, moves, and talks. He became self-conscious and initially indulged in self-pity. He imagined people staring at him  while he awkwardly walked in streets and hallways  and while he rode jeepneys.

But Jay overcame these challenges. Quitting medical school, he started to work in the city government of Muntinlupa in  2000 as a medical assistant. He just applied himself to his work. No job was too difficult for Jay and eventually he was loved and cheered by colleagues because he was always ready to lend a helping hand.

He  became active in community activities. He excelled in other NGO works , was elected as President of Philippine Society of Medical Laboratories Scientists, Inc.,Muntinlupa City-Las Pinas and Parañaque; member of the Board of Directors of the National Capital Region Medical Technologists; coordinatorof the Muntinlupa Reproductive Health and Wellness Center.  Last May, 2019, he represented Muntinlupa City in an international biosafety course. Would you believe it, he even became  a sought-after trainer and coach of  the men’s volleyball and basketball teams in Muntinlupa!

When the global pandemic hit, Jay was assigned at the City Health Office swab center. On average, Espeleta interfaces with around 100 patients per day in the local swabbing center and  in the barangays.

Jay set aside his initial concern of being afflicted  by COVID on top of his present physical disability. “Mahal ako ng Diyos. May polio na nga ako, eh, ma-coCOVID pa ?” He steeled himself: “Mas malakas ang bakuna ko. Si Lord ang shield ko.”

So day in and day out, he reported for work. Last February, his  father passed away  just as COVID-19 was starting to spread in the country. Three months later, his mother also died when the targeted mass testing efforts of the city, which he supervises, was at its peak. He didn’t have the time to properly mourn his parents as he chose to attend to strangers during the pandemic.

Recently, he was again nominated by his boss, Dr. Teresa Tuliao as an extraordinary employee with his dedication and sincerity  as a health hero beating COVID-19. This time, Jay was adjudged the Most Outstanding Employee in 2020, by the PRAISE Committee headed by City Administrator Engr. Allan A. Cachuela.

“Alam ng Diyos ang takot at hirap ko, kaya binigyan niya ko ng blessing na ito.” It  was indeed another blessing and recognition for Jay that he won the Most Outstanding Employee in 2020, after facing the  PRAISE Committee led by City Administrator Engr.Allan A.Cachuela, and other judges from various sectors.

With Jay, the other  2020 winners were: Freddie Batario (Cooperative Office), Sharyln Dulay (Mayor’s Office), and Adonis P. Adornado (Colegio de Muntinlupa, runners-up.)

In accepting his award, Jay  thanked Mayor Jaime R. Fresnedi, City Administrator Engr.Allan Cachuela, Atty Erick Tagnia, Dr. Teresa Tuliao, Dr.Juancho Bunyi, Maam Malu and Kapitan Allen Ampaya, his mentor and supporter Tez Navarro, councilors, family, friends, and, above all, “God, Who is Mightier than COVID.”

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