Ang Banhawanon awardees
I had cited the smashing success that MassKara was. But more important is that I join the many Bacolod residents who wish to pay tribute to the several Ang Banwahanon awardees.
That does not mean that I have consigned the praises heaped on Bacolod officials and the city by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita who also lauded the new Government Center as a symbol of the capacity of the people to dream and the realization of that dream.
Still, I think it is time that we salute the Ang Banwahanon awardees. They are the ones the city owes so much to.
Among the awardees were former Bacolod City Mayor Jose “Digoy” Montalvo and Msgr. Noli Que.
Montalvo stands out as the mayor who gave the go-signal for MassKara at a time when he was nursing the pains of having lost his family in the Don Juan Tragedy. I remember how Digoy remained seemingly courageous to his pain and suffering, a symbol of Christian fortitude an acceptance of God's will. Not that it was not painful.
Msgr. Que, on the other hand, is a symbol of a dedicated churchman who remains firm in his commitment to his work as pastor of the Our Queen of Peace Parish. A worthy successor to the late Msgr. John Liu.
We salute the late Councilor Romeo Geocadin and former Mayor Amado Parreño, the latter, one of the most visionary mayors Bacolod ever had.
Geocadin, however, must be credited with having been the “father of MassKara”. He fought relentlessly for the festival to be accepted and recognized despite some criticisms from many quarters. But he waged a spirited campaign to have it institutionalized as a trade mark celebration of Bacolod .
A former Governor of Lions District 301-B, Geocadin remained a firm advocate of MassKara and its leading defender.
Donna Porter also deserves the posthumous acknowledgement of her contribution to MassKara. A dance choreographer, Donna captured the imagination of Bacoleños for her many impressive choreographed dances.
The three others are equally deserving of our tribute. Mila Ong is cited for her generosity of time, talent and treasure for the poor and the community, especially the disadvantaged and the abandoned.
Lawyer Francisco Cruz is one who remained committed to the rule of law and stood pat on is fight for human rights.
During the Martial law years, Cruz often was battered and pilloried by minions of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. But he remained indomitable in his courageous advocacy of what is right despite the resources of the administration.
Dr. Maria Dolores Ramos, however, is someone who has always been close to our hearts – my late wife, Dr. Lourdes L. Espina and myself. We were personally friends. In a special way, because Maya was also from the University of the Philippines in Dilliman where my late wife used to live.
But over the years, we had remained closely associated with Maya. And we are fully aware of her dedication to the education of the young and her obsession with education.
Thus, the grant of the award to Maya is as much a tribute to a close friend and crediting a truly great Bacoleña for what she has done for so many.
To all the Ang Banwahanon awardees our salute and prayers that they remain among us still committed and dedicated to what they have stood for in their younger days.
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I wrote recently about the success of the MassKara Festival. I would like to pay special mention to Eli Tajanlangit, the chair of the MassKara Foundation. A silent worker, Eli went around his task of preparing the MassKara sans the braggadocio of the obsessed. He just conducted his consultations without fanfare and went about negotiating contracts sans the whispers that normally accompany the work of bureaucrats.
A salute to Eli and his staff.
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Yes, there was something that touched me with MassKara. This was the Saturday evening when, shortly after his power with sugar leaders at Imay's, Senator Juan Miguel (Migz) Zubiri opted to walk through Lacson streets sans any bodyguard.
He went around just like any visitor. And, although he attracted attention, Zubiri did not display signs of being a ranking member of the Senate. He also displayed that he was around friends. He would glad hand people, calling out their names.
He was just what he wanted to be – a Negrense from Kabankalan. And Bacolod of course.
And, yes, I also knew that he had distributed millions of his countryside development fund to almost every city and town of the province of Negros Occidental .
Although he is from Bukidnon, Zubiri has displayed that he is more the senator from Negros Occidental by the way he has been helping Negrenses.*
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