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Dr. Aland Mizell Datu Bago awardees: Touching the lives of Filipinos

“HEROISM is not a concept brought by recognition and praises but an innate human trait stemming from idealism. It lives within us as we keep our belief, optimism, and aspirations alive… I commend the Datu Bago Awardees 2018 for their significant efforts and involvement in the growth and development of the City of Davao; and for their invaluable contribution to the preservation of the Davaoeno cultural heritage. We are giving this award, not only to recognize their deeds, but also to inspire future generations to do the same. I hope they remain steadfast in upholding their ideals as they carry on doing their good work for our home city,” wrote President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his message on the occasion of the Datu Bago Awards 2018 which was held last Tuesday, March 13, at the Royal Ballroom of the Royal Mandaya Hotel, Davao City.

CITY Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio

The most senior Datu Bago awardees who attended the special event as part of celebrating the 81st Araw ng Davao included Antonio T. Uy, Aida Rivera Ford, Jesus G. Dureza, Julian P. Rodriguez, Irene M. Santiago, Rizal D. Aportadera, Joji Ilagan Bian, Paul G. Dominguez, Ma. Luisa L. Aportadera, and Alfonso Guino-o.

PAST President of the DBAO Guillermo P. Torres Jr., (DBA 2011)

It was last year when I asked some candidates for the Mutya ng Davao who among the Datu Bago Awardees they admire the most and serve as inspiration for them. Sadly, not one was able to answer my question. The Datu Bago Awards have been conferred upon outstanding individuals (both Filipinos and foreigners who have made Davao City their home) who have made significant contributions to Davao City. The Datu Bago Award was created in 1969 under the leadership of then Mayor Elias B. Lopez, a Bagobo.

JAPANESE Consul Tomoko Dodo, Paul G. Dominguez (DBA 1998), Secretary Jesus G. Dureza (DBA1983), Councilor Halila Sudagar and Councilor Jimmy Dureza.

This highest award given to Davaoenos is, according to Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, “A celebration of the indomitable spirit of the Davaoeno, his resilience, his strength, and his ability to stand tall amidst any crisis. It is only fitting, therefore, that we give this award during the Araw ng Davao festivities—a time when we look back to appreciate the lessons of the past and move forward to an even brighter future.”

JOJI Ilagan-Bian (DBA 1997), Alfonso Guinoo (DBA 2004) with Michael Dakudao, Dr. Emily Soriano and Dr. Karen Alabado-Laurel and husband.

“We are one with our fellow Davaoenos in this celebration as we pledge our continuing commitment to serve and contribute to the development of our beloved city…We commit to continue finding innovative ways to make our city progressive and work towards a better quality of life for all. May our Datu Bago Awardees serve as inspiration to all Davaoenos,” stated the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Datu Bago Awardees Organization, Inc., Dr. Guillermo “Willie” P. Torres, Jr., who served tirelessly from 2011-2016. Dr. Torres was among the Datu Bago Award recipients for 2011 which included the Reverend Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla, D.D.

The Datu Bago Awardees Organization’s Board of Trustees under the chairmanship of Councilor Pilar C. Braga (2016-2019) is comprised of outstanding citizens of Davao City who are all Datu Bago awardees themselves. These are Councilor Pilar C. Braga (Chair), Dr. Guillermo P. Torres, Jr. (Immediate Past Chair), lawyer Antonio B. Arellano (Vice-Chair), Amelia B. Bonifacio (Trustee and chair of the Education Committee), Fe Bada Arobo (Trustee and Chair of Membership Committee), Dr. Perfecto A. Alibin (Trustee and Former Chair of Search Committee), Dr. Marina Bello-Ruivivar (Secretary), Carmelina V. Francia (Treasurer), Salvacion U. Leuenberger (Auditor).

DATU Bago descendants joined the prestigious event for the first time.

AMELIA B. Bonifacio, Datu Bago Awardee 2015, DBAO member of the Board of Trustees.

Chosen as 2018 Datu Bago Awardees are Bro. Carlito M. Gaspar, Norma T. Javellana, Belen C. Laud, Dr. Aland David Mizell, Ricardo N. Obenza, Jr., Beethoven N. Sur and Nieto L. Vitto.

Bro. Carlito M. Gaspar or Bro. Karl, is a Redemptorist missionary, theologian, anthropologist and prolific writer. He has been championing the indigenous peoples cultural and resource rights and as such, has been promoting a deeper understanding of lumad culture among the non-lumad population of Davao City.

Norma T. Javellana is a proud Davaoena “whose vision for the community and environment made her an environmental pioneer and traiblazer, and a long-term advocate for the protection of children’s rights.”

Belen C. Laude was nomianted for the Datu Bago Award by cooperatives and organizations on the basis of her “outstanding leadership and tireless effort;” “exemplary services and dedication;” “outstanding performance, service and leadership;” and for being a “model of excellence.” Laude received numerous national awards for her brand of self-less community services. She is a cancer survivor and is engaged in SMILES for its cancer awareness program.

Dr. Aland David Mizell is an American social scientist who has been living in Davao City for more than a decade to serve the disadvantaged and the marginalized. He established the Minority Care International to put up programs to benefit the underprivileged youth; including scholarships for the disadvantaged minority students to enable them to study in local colleges and universities. Dr. Mizell also organized a student exchange program that sends two Filipino students to the USA for study and internship annually.

Ricardo N. Obenza, Jr. is an environmentalist, teacher and visual artist who has devoted his life to ensure a better environment through arts and tree planting programs for Davao City’s future generation to enjoy. He has gained international exposure when he was featured in a Japan Foundation magazine where he was described as a modest, local activist whose way of life and teaching is a work of art in itself.

Beethoven N. Sur is a Philippine Coast Guard Auxilliary director who leads volunteers in safeguarding the perilous coast of Southeastern Mindanao while assuring the safety of life and property at sea. His advocacy includes environmental protection and preservation; support for education; and humanitarian outreach operations. Not to mention Sur’s popular programs for fitness and health.

Nieto L. Vitto is an educator who focused in the field of Special Education in USEP. He also headed a program for BS Social Services major in the Care of Older Persons and the BS International Studies major in Japanese Language Studies at the Mindanao Kokusai Daigako. Vitto has trained coaches and athletes with disabilities and was instrumental in their participation in national and regional competitions.

Despite the long wait for Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s appearance, this year’s 48thConfernment of Datu Bago Awards 2018 program went smoothly with the strict madam Amelia B. Bonifacio as program host. Congratulations to all the Datu Bago Awardees for 2018; and the Datu Bago Awardees Organization’s Board of Trustees for a job very well done.

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