Baguio 112th Charter Day on virtual mode

27 August 2021 – This year’s five awardees for being outstanding citizens of Baguio receive accolades through virtual means, City Tourism and Special Events Officer Engr. Alec Mapalo announced during last week’s executive management committee (mancom).

The program is limited to city officials to avoid crowding at the program venue, the Baguio Convention Center, though the program could be viewed through virtual means, Mapalo assured Baguio netizens.

Awardees are Ms. Maria Victoria Abubo Bugasto and Dr. Alberto Pengdaden Atiwag, Jr. for community service, Fernando So Tiong for business, Atty. Dexter Duclan Diwas and Dr. Elizabeth Jaravata Batino for professional service.

Cancer survivor Ms. Bugasto, formed a support group for cancer patients, survivors and their families. A benefactor herself, she searches out supportive friends and strangers to help finance medicines and treatment; and when all efforts fail, for burial and other expenses. A speaker for breast cancer awareness, she inspires others to help patients through an ordeal she herself underwent. 

Atty. Diwas espouses legal wellness and preventive lawyering and especially focuses on Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs), for them to be knowledgeable and informed of their rights. He also mentors PDLs in preparation for release and returns to society. He believes such endeavor deters PDLs from committing crimes, and declog the justice system as well.

Dentist Albert Atiwag, Jr. presents his package for the community; materials and service including livelihood projects. Right out of dental school, Dr. Atiwag volunteers for outreaches and has a heart for the needy community. He performs dental services and distributes kits and samples solicited from donors. He also supports barangay livelihood projects in the city.

Dr. Batino as head of the women and children protection unit of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) made several firsts; that of becoming the first women and children protection training center in Luzon and personally, the first graduate of forensic science in the country. She introduced the multi-disciplinary team approach in the management of abuse and violence and processing of pieces of

evidence being a nurse and a physician in obstetrics and gynecology. Her contribution to her field is recognized as being a semi-finalist in the Civil Service Commission Dangal ng Bayan Award in 2020.

Baguio businessman Fernando So Tiong contributes to the improvement of the economy by providing employment to hundreds, in his business establishments. His contribution to Baguio’s well-being includes providing finances to the Emergency Response Team 911 on-call and other volunteer organizations among others. His philanthropic work is extended during the Covid-19 pandemic as he donated test cubicles, disinfectant passage intubation and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), food and other necessities.

The awards have since metamorphosed from records dating 1975 with two outstanding citizens; in law and military education. The awards have produced notables from its list, government workers, doctors, politicians, businessmen, lawyers and judges, bankers, athletes, and engineers.  Other categories include awardees for youth and humanitarian workers, artists, journalists, the religious group, public health, arts and culture, entrepreneurship, advocacy on ecology, stage performance and film.

 At one time, concentration was on outstanding citizens from abroad, at another time the award was for outstanding senior citizens, and further for, for laborers: miners, farming, floriculture, woodcraft, fine filigree, plumber, security guard, mushroom grower, street sweeper, highway maintenance.

Group awards were also given, as well as prominence in the national scene. In 1987, no awards were given but the historical sketch at Malcolm Square was unveiled.

As of now, the Society of Outstanding Citizens of Baguio (SOCOB) is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with its own bylaws for choosing top citizens. A nomination, screening committee, panel and final selection committee is also assigned from its own members for the award. –Julie G. Fianza