The Learning curve

Going beyond excellence

It is always uplifting to read about Filipinos who excel in their professions—and make a difference in other people’s lives—despite difficult circumstances. Consider Metrobank Foundation’s Outstanding Filipinos named in 2017.

Jennifer M. Rojo, a teacher at Neogan Elementary School in Tagaytay, has always wanted the teaching of science to be more enjoyable and less intimidating for students. She fashioned her own strategies beyond the textbook, including the Joyful Enrichment in Science Vocabulary which uses games and puzzles for learning. Edgar T. Elago, of the Magallanes National High School in Agusan del Norte, has focused on promoting the love of Filipino art and culture among his students. Knowing the power of education, he spearheads a Project Scholar program to help high school graduates get a college education. Esperanza C. Cabrera, a university fellow at De La Salle, is a microbiologist who has contributed to research in her field, like determining the appropriate antibiotics for the outbreak of boils among the inmates of the Manila City Jail and the National Bilibid Prison. For Alonzo A. Gabriel, a food science and technology professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman, food security in our tropical developing country is a serious concern as food in most households may have unwanted organisms.


Staff Sgt. Narding N. Pascual, of the Banwaon tribe in San Luis, Agusan del Sur, is a known advocate of nonviolent struggle. Among his community development initiatives are a two-classroom primary school building and the groundwork for a rural electrification project (portable radios and light bulbs are now in lumad homes). Lt. Col. Elmer B. Suderio, of Zamboanga del Sur, has proven that a soldier need not engage only in the battlefield but also in projects for the progress of the community, such as livelihood opportunities for former Moro rebels. Lt. Col. Ricky P. Bunayog, of Central Mindanao, succeeded in the resolution of longstanding blood feuds stemming from land conflicts and religious clashes.

PO3 Shiela May S. Pansoy, of the Women and Children’s Protection Desk in the Hagonoy Municipal Police Station in Davao del Sur, is an anti-abuse champion drawing from her own experience as a victim of abuse. Rosalino P. Ibay Jr., of Tondo, Manila, is aware of its reputation as a haven of crime. As chief of the Manila Police Department’s Anti-Carnapping and Hijacking Unit, he was credited with the resolution of an unprecedented number of car theft cases. Senior Supt. Joel B. Doria, of the Cebu City Police Office, is known for his campaign against crime and illegal drugs, which has yielded positive results without any reported human rights violation.


Clearly, these four teachers, three soldiers, and three police officers demonstrate more than excellence. They are “responsible citizens, exemplary public servants, agents of positive change,” according to Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña. The search is ongoing for this year’s roster of public servants. All are invited to nominate people in their midst, family and friends, who demonstrate service beyond the call of duty.

Nomination forms and guidelines are available on the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos Facebook page. Deadline for nominations is March 1. Each awardee will receive P1 million, a trophy, and a gold medallion. For inquiries, email [email protected]

Speaking of extraordinary individuals and extraordinary lives, the 85th birthday of President Cory Aquino will be commemorated on Jan. 25. It is especially meaningful to us from St. Scholastica’s College (SSC) as it is our homecoming season, and time again to remember with pride and gratitude the school’s outstanding alumnae led by Cory. The PAX Award (the highest award that SSC bestows on outstanding alumnae) for Cory reads: a “living example of the capacity of individuals to bear witness to principle by means of unadorned personal courage and commitment.” Incidentally, Cory was for many years the board chair of the Metrobank Foundation. Its programs for social development were close to her heart.

Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ([email protected]) is chair of the National Book Development Board and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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