Metrobank honors 10 public servants

Published August 9, 2021, 7:00 AM

by Lee C. Chipongian

Another set of teachers, soldiers and police officers made it to the list of the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos for 2021, chosen by a panel of judges from government, the private sector and the academe.

It was a two-year project in the making evaluation and review process due delays amid the COVID-19 health crisis. Despite the pandemic, the Ty Family-controlled Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. still found its annual recipients of the awards to encourage public servants to do better and to go beyond their call of duty, in the service of the public that has suffered three of the hardest lockdowns since March 2020 under an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) measure, plus the first phase under the Moderate ECQ (August 2020).

THE 2021 METROBANK FOUNDATION OUTSTANDING FILIPINOS (top row from left): Lou Sabrina Ongkiko; Dr. Maria Minerva Calimag; Dr. Iris Thiele Isip-Tan, Jason Albaro; (bottom from left); Technical Sergeant Jake Belino PAF; Colonel Augusto Padua PAF; Lieutenant Colonel Elmer Boongaling; Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare; Police Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Pablito; and Police Senior Master Sergeant Mary Joy Ylanan.

The 10 outstanding public servants will receive P1 million each.

From the academe sector, these are: Lou Sabrina S. Ongkiko of Culiat Elementary School in Quezon City; Jason B. Albaro of Muntinlupa National High School Main in Muntinlupa City; Dr. Maria Minerva P. Calimag of the College of Medicine, University of Santo Tomas in Manila; and Dr. Iris Thiele Isip-Tan of the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines in Manila.

Three military officers are also awarded, namely: Technical Sergeant Jake P. Belino of Baguio City, a non-commissioned officer-in-charge for civil tactical operations wing of Northern Luzon, Philippine Air Force (PAF); Lieutenant Colonel Elmer M. Boongaling of Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, an executive officer of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans of the Philippine Army; and Colonel Augusto N. Padua of Villamor Airbase in Pasay City, also PAF and an executive officer from the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Operations.

The three recognized police officers, in the meantime, are: Police Senior Master Sergeant Mary Joy B. Ylanan of Bogo City, Cebu, assigned to the Police Community Relations PNCO; Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace J. Pelare of Talisay City, Cebu, the Chief of Police; and Police Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan P. Pablito of Fort San Pedro, IloIlo City, the Assistant Chief, Regional Police Strategy Management Unit, Police Regional Office 6.

During the online press briefing on August 6 that followed the virtual awarding event, Ongkiko or Teacher Sab, dubbed as Quezon City’s transformative educator of science and the English language, has called for change amid the pandemic.

After 12 years of teaching, Teacher Sab reminded the public still suffering from the crisis that the desire to change is a power that all Filipinos have – “kahit mahirap, kahit mabigat (even if it’s difficult, or beset with hardships).”

Albaro, who has been teaching chemistry for 13 years, said he wanted to be known as a global science educator, to do “extraordinary things to inspire students” and to pursue continuous research and inventions. “The opportunities are limitless and borderless. We can achieve success through global cooperation,” he said during the presscon, adding that to find solutions and to invent new things, “collaboration is key.”

Dr. Calimag is championing grassroot advocacies and continues to fight against substandard drugs, and to ensure drug safety in the Philippines. For most of her 35 years as a health leader, she is known as a pharmacovigilance advocate, and she has been pushing for the public to advocate for themselves, as she has been advocating for her profession, for her patients and the planet. “Dapat ang bawa’t isa sa atin ay maging mapanuri sa gamot na ating iniinom (All of us should be critical in every drugs/medicine that we take),” said Dr. Calimag.

Her fellow medical practitioner, Dr. Tan, has adopted to the pandemic and found new ways to teach the medical profession via online. “I like trying new ways of teaching and I share it to others (to encourage) discourse online,” she said, adding that pre-pandemic, she has been encouraging and helping other medical educators to try online teaching. Dr. Tan, as Manila’s “breakthrough educator” and translational researcher in health informatics, has been advocating for the improvement of health literacy online. “To get good outcomes in healthcare, you need to get the right information to the right person at the right time,” she said, to ensure that patients are getting the correct medical treatment.

TSgt. Belino, in the meantime, is PAF’s known humanitarian and disaster response vanguard. In his 18th year in service, he has gained expertise in tactical operations. “We look forward to innovations, at paano natin i-manage ang disasters (how can we better manage disasters). We search for new solutions, ideas,” he said, stressing that COVID-19 is a a game changer in disaster response and the government has to be on top of it.

 Lt.Col. Boongaling, 27 years in the army, is its peacebuilder for safe and resilient communities. “I advocate for grassroot peacebuilding,” he said. Specifically, he is pursuing participatory peacebuilding. He said proper and adequate communication is crucial in achieving lasting peace. He has made it his mission to communicate mainstream peace building as well.

Col. Padua, serving as PAF now for 26 years, is an aviation leader and an expert in air defense operations and logistics. He’s tagged as the PAF’s airpower innovator for peace. For him, it is also important to “always seek solutions” and to “invent new things” and especially amid the pandemic, to work with others to achieve maximum success.

The only female police officer of three recognized by Metrobank, P/SMSgt. Ylanan, specializes in police community relations. She’s been serving the agency and the people for 16 years. She said her work is a “huge responsibility” as it is her task to encourage trust and confidence in the police. “The community has to look to the police as protector and guardian,” she said. It has been a difficult challenge for her to accomplish this in a daily basis. “Dapat ang mga tao meron trust sa police (People should trust the police),” she said. To do this, she regularly conducts talks and tries to be as approachable as possible to the public.

P/Lt. Col. Pelare, also from Cebu, is Talisay City’s protector and counsel since he is also a lawyer and the Chief of Police since 2019. He gives free legal advise. His mission is to rid the city of crimes and drugs. “It is important to me that the community will be actively involved,” he said. He has been serving the public for 15 years.

P/Lt. Col. Pablito, 19 years on the job, is Western Visayas’ organizational and community transformation lead strategist. His advice to all who are planning to join the police force: “You pray.” He also advises to “seek God’s will in this vocation. Prepare yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.” Pablito said the Philippine National Police (PNP) should regain its credibility and integrity, and he has been advocating for the PNP transformation as a credible police force.

Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña, in his speech, said the “entire nation continues to be at a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the situation is still evolving. (But) during this extended period of unease, we are fortunate to be inspired by the dedication of public servants and front liners who are steadfast in their mission.”

Sobrepeña said the finalists underwent rigorous selection process and were chosen from hundreds of nominations submitted for the 2020 and 2021 evaluations. For the 2021 set of awardees, the 18 finalists were selected by the final Board of Judges chaired by Sen. Nancy Binay-Angeles and co-chaired by Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang. The other members were: Quirino representative Junie E. Cua; Civil Service Commission chairperson Alicia Dela Rosa-Bala; Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso; Alliance Global Inc. chief executive officer Kevin Andrew Tan; and United Print Media Group president Barbie Atienza, who is also from Manila Bulletin.