Nine honored as 'Natatanging Pasigueño' awardees

Nine individuals from a diverse range of sectors were honored as the recipients of this year’s “Gawad Parangal sa mga Natatanging Pasigueño” Awards held on the eve of the 450th anniversary of Pasig City or “Araw ng Pasig.”

First held on the 421st Araw ng Pasig in 1994, the “Gawad Parangal sa mga Natatanging Pasigueño” 2023 is the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic that the local government was able to continue the ceremony.

Emphasizing the significance of the awards on the 450th anniversary of Pasig City, it was also the first time that the awards were open to public nominations, which "helped produce a more diverse pool of nominees" and the local government hopes will drive Pasigueños to appreciate their fellow citizens.

(Coun. Angelu De Leon FB / MANILA BULLETIN)

"This esteemed award has evolved through the decades as a source of great pride and inspiration for Pasigueños everywhere. In honoring remarkable individuals for their achievements in their respective fields, it is also hoped that the pride in the shared Pasigueño identity endures across the different generations," said Councilor Angelu De Leon, who also serves as the chairperson of the Committee on Culture and Tourism.

The awards were conferred to Loreto T. Jimenez, Randy C. Guevarra, Danilo V. Manuel Jr., Danim R. Majerano, RADM Donn Anthony L. Mariflor PN, Jose John S. Santos III, Socorro Mignon A. Villanueva, Ar. Paulo G. Alcazaren, and Sen. Rene Augusto V. Saguisag.

The nine were chosen by the selection committee out of 32 nominations submitted for the awards for their lifetime achievements and contributions.

The selection committee consisted of National Artist for Music Dr. Ramon P. Santos, who was also a recipient of the Outstanding Pasigueño Award (OPA) in 1994; Dr. Estrellita Y. Evangelista, the former assistant director of the Department of Education (DepEd) - Bureau of Secondary Education, and a recipient of the OPA for Education in 2003; Dr. Fernando Melendrez, MD, a specialist in the field of medicine and technology, and a recipient of the OPA for Medicine in 2014; Economist Rosalina Dela Paz Magat; Roderick C. Macutay, an prolific artist and illustrator; Billie Crystal Dumaliang, co-founder and trustee of the Masungi Georeserve Foundation; and Jessie Lacuna, a former competitive swimmer, and current coach, who has won in various international and national olympic games.


Meet the honorees

Loreto T. Jimenez received the OPA for Participation and Volunteerism. He taught at the Kalawaan Elementary School for 30 years, and was an active leader of educational organizations. After his retirement, he went on to serve the community by providing free trainings, tools, seedlings, and technical assistance on various livelihood projects, focusing on urban gardening, composting and environmental protection. He was also noted as a reliable resource person to cultural mappers in Pasig for being one of Barangay Kalawaan's oldest residents. He has been able to impart knowledge on the barangay's hertiage, which he shared through articles and research.

Randy C. Guevarra was given the OPA for Arts and Culture - Dance. He was the founder and artistic director of the multi-award winning dance group, Sindaw Philippines Performance Arts Guild, who has represented the Philippines in festivals and competitions around the globe for 20 years. He was also a former senior member of the Ramon Ubusan folkloric group, the resident dance company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and executive member of the national dance committee of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

Danilo V. Manuel Jr. was awarded the OPA for Arts and Culture - Music. As an educator who continues to teach in Caniogan Elementary School, he has been harnessing the power of music as a connection and way for learning in his daily profession. He has composed many songs in the city, notably the Barangay Caniogan hymn, and competes in various songwriting competitions.

Danim R. Majerano received the OPA for Education and Academia. As a teacher and researcher, he has widened the scope for studies on the culture and heritage of Pasig City. He currently teaches at the Kapitolyo High School, and was awarded as the "Most Outstanding Master Teacher of the Year" in 2022 by the Instabright International Guild of Researchers and Educators Incorporated. He has also published pieces on local mythical features and waterways such as Ilog Pasig and Bitukang Manok.

Rear Admiral (RADM) Donn Anthony L. Mariflor PN, a decorated member of the Philippine Navy, was given the OPA for Public Service and Governance. He is currently serving as the commander of the naval forces of Western Mindanao. Aside from defending the state from terrorists and other criminals, he has also led humanitarian and disaster response services. assistant chief of staff for education and training, he also helps train young soldiers or civilians.

Jose John S. Santos III was conferred with the OPA for Arts and Culture - Visual Arts. A highly-accomplished artist, he has mounted over 30 solo exhibitions and participated in various group exhibitions in the country and abroad. He was one of the 13 artists awarded by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and he also received the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Gawad Chancellor Award for Outstanding Visual Creation in 2001. His sculpture,  "Order of Things No. 3," was the first Filipino-made artwork exhibited in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC, United States.

Socorro Mignon A. Villanueva was given the OPA for Arts and Culture - Literature. As a storyteller and fiction writer, she has won the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature thrice for her short stories in 2002, 2004, and 2006. She was also a recipient of two NVM Gonzales writing awards for short stories in 2000 and 2001. She continues to write for magazines and news publications.

Ar. Paulo G. Alcazaren received the OPA for Arts and Culture - Architecture. A licensed environmental planner and landscape architect with over 4 decades of experience. He has designed landscapes such as the Iloilo Esplanade Pasig Rizal Plaza, Ortigas Elevated Plaza and Walkways, and the network of parks in Makati, as well as other works in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. He was noted for integrating heritage conservation, public parks, and open spaces in his works, for which he was awarded the 2020 Landscape Honoree for the Ortigas Greenway, given by the NCCA.

Sen. Rene Augusto V. Saguisag, a prominent lawyer and politician, was awarded the OPA for Law. He served as the spokesperson of former President Corazon Aquino and was a Senator from 1987 to 1992. He was the chairman of the senate committee on ethics and privilege, and the adhoc committee on the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. He has authored key legislation such as "The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees," and the Ombudsman Act of 1989. He was a member of the Free Legal Assistance Crew, the oldest human rights lawyers network in the country. He established a free legal aid clinic in San Beda University, where he also teaches constitutional and human rights law.

The program also recognized "honorable mention" awardees who delivered promising achievements and were commended by the selection committee. These include Banker Andro Leo I. Beltran (OPA for Business, Economics, and Entrepreneurship), a financial literacy and education advocate; Hannah Pabalan (OPA for Youth Leadership), a scholar and active youth leader; and Kenneth Roger Villa (OPA for Arts and Culture - Writing), a person with disabilities (PWD) who is a published author, freelance editor, and public speaker.

Inspirations, role models

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto expressed his heartfelt congratulations to all the winners, who he said were all deserving of honor and recognition.

"We recognize and recall the rich history and culture of Pasig City. In doing so, we recognize the people. The events, buildings, and structures are only as important as the people and the stories behind them," Sotto said.

Sotto and Rep. Roman Romulo, who graced the event, both remarked that the awardees will stand as role models for their citizens, especially to the youth.

"I also believe that this will serve as an inspiration to other Pasigueños…This will inspire them to excel in the fields they enter into," Sotto added.

Among the previous honorees included in the awards' prestigious roster were Jovito R. Salonga, Raoul Victorino, Theresa S. Raymundo, and Lorna Bernardo.