A historian, cooperative leader, social scientist and environmentalists were among seven Davaoenos who were conferred with the Datu Bago Award on Tuesday at the Royal Mandaya Hotel.
The Datu Bago Award is the highest award given to a Dabawenyo, who has exemplified competence and dedication in contributing to the development of the city.
The awardees for the 48th Datu Bago Awards were Carlito Gaspar, Norma T. Javellana, Belen C. Laud, Aland David Mizell, Ricardo N. Obenza, Jr., Beethoven N. Sur and Nieto L. Vitto.
“The awardees are recognized for their outstanding, exemplary and selfless contribution to the growth and development of Davao City and for their invaluable contribution to the preservation of the Davaoeño culture and heritage,” the Datu Bago Awardees Organization, Inc. (DBAOI) said in a statement.
Carlito Gaspar is a champion of the indigenous peoples’ cultural and resource rights. As a Redemptorist missionary, theologian, anthropologist and a historian, he studies about Davao City and its people, culture and experiences.
His extensive research on pre-colonial Davao has significantly contributed to the study and appreciation of Davao’s history and culture. His grassroots activism and development work were also focused on serving those in the periphery and the disadvantaged.
Norma T. Javellana is an advocate for environment protection and is noted for her unceasing effort towards the protection of the Shrine Hills. She also advocates the protection of green open spaces and watersheds. A passionate environmentalist and chidren’s rights advocate, she lobbied tirelessly for the protection of the Pahigan, and Tamugan rivers.
For 20 years, she served as leader and manager of Tambayan Center for Children’s Rights, which aims to combat child-trafficking in the city and the whole of Davao Region.
Norma is being recognized for her trailblazing contribution to the protection and conservation of Davao City’s natural resources and human resources.
Belen C. Laud has remarkably made her contributions in the cooperative movement, serving in various capacities in nine cooperatives as an excellent leader, consultant, accredited mediator and conciliator, cooperative auditor and a lecturer.
Aland David Mizell is an American social scientist who has spent more than 10 years in Davao City, serving the disadvantaged and the marginalized. He led the establishment of Minority Care International (MCI) which provides scholarship programs to marginalized youth.
An advocate of personal and social transformation through education, he gives opportunities to disadvantaged minority students for international study in the United States.
He is also being recognized for being the champion of college education behind bars, a program initiated with the University of Southeastern Philippines, which gave an opportunity to inmates of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) acquire formal education.
Ricardo Obenza, Jr. is an environmentalist, teacher and artist who has devoted more than 40 years of his life to ensure a better environment through arts and planting programs for Davao City.
His main target is the reforestation of the Malagos Watershed and the art education of Davao City’s children. Combining his love for nature and education, he integrates planting of native trees in his art classes for children.
Beethoven Sur is a Philippine Coast Guard Auxilliary (PCGA) District Director. His leadership as district director paved the way for the promotion of environmental protection, assuring safety of life and property at sea.
He has humanitarian and outreach programs such as annual coastal clean-ups, mangrove and reef growing, relief operations, books and school supplies donation, sports development, and Oplan Ligtas Biyahe.
Nieto Vitto is the father of the Special Education at the University of Southeastern Philippines, who champions the education of persons with special needs. He initiated the sports for differently-abled children, enabling them to enjoy sports to promote healing and well-being.
In her inspirational speech, Mayor Inday Sara Duterte commended the awardees and their remarkable efforts in their respective fields.
“I would like to thank you for choosing to devote your lives to the furtherance of your respective causes for the benefit of Davao City and Davaoeños. May you continue to blaze the trail in your areas of expertise and inspire countless others to follow your examples,” Mayor Inday said. CIO