Eight adjudged as Outstanding Citizens of Baguio 2022
Eight individuals who rendered exemplary service in their fields were chosen as this year’s outstanding citizens of Baguio.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Aug. 22, 2022 announced the selection of the following to the Baguio Day honor roll: Mr. Ferdinand John Balanag in the Culture and the Arts category; Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., Professional Service; Judge Mia Joy C. Cawed, Professional Service; Nurse Ricky Balicdang Ducas, Community Service; Arch. Dulthe Carlo Munar, Culture and the Arts; Dr. Raymundo D. Rovillos, Professional Service; Marybeth Yu So, Community Service; and Mr. Rodolfo ‘Ompong’ Tan, Community Service.
They will be awarded during the Baguio Day program on Sept. 1, 2022.
The search was spearheaded by the Society for Outstanding Citizens of Baguio (SOCOB) headed by President Elma Donaal through the 2022 search committee chaired by Ms. Dona Digna Rosario.
Ferdinand John Balanag, Culture and the Arts
Artist and multi-talented creative director Ferdie Balanag has a list of accomplishments in film and theater; culture and the arts up his sleeve.
These include audio-visuals:”Huminga Baguio,” a music video in 2021 to launch a rebranded Baguio city; “Mangan Taku,” (2021) a documentation of the region’s local cuisine: “Magihilom at babangon muli,” (2020) a music video in the midst of the pandemic: “We heal as one Cordillera,” (2021) Resiliency, Recovery and Bouncing Back; “Unsung Heroes: The Human Race,” (2020), stories inspired by everyday people around the world during the Corona virus; “Unsung Heroes: Artist Volunteer, “ (2020), paints and brushes to create Personal Protective Equipment.
Earlier, Balanag worked on “Walk Happy Baguio,” (2015); “Agbalbalitok,” (2014); “Anak ti Pating,” (2012); “Walking the Waking Journey,” (2009); “Shift 2012”, (2011); “Ano ba talaga ang Art?” (2010); “Respect Mt. Pulag,” (2008), Rangtay Paapan idyay Bangir,” (2005).
He worked for audio-visual production for TV, and directed events, including the Montanosa Film Festival, Crescendo, Ibagiw, An Enchanting Baguio Christmas (2019) Octoberfest (2012), Philippine International Arts Festival (2011), “Ipitik,” (2006); Celebrating the Golden Years, (2006); Cordillera Eco-Youth Summit (2008 and 2009); the Baguio Art Congress, (2006); the 6th Baguio Arts Festival 2005 and the Integrated Baar of the Philippines National Convention.
Balanag has also directed, acted or written scripts on at least a dozen plays and musicals, has published Baguio memories and insights (2006), and Baguio precious memories (2014); and music records and production.
He has numerous community involvement for the youth, the elderly, tourism, media, environment and creativity
For his works, he has received accolades and awards here and abroad.
His works highlight Baguio and the Cordillera culture, its people, events, rituals, local cuisine, venues, music, heritage and practices. Included are the “Ipitik,” where a few drops of rice wine, or any other drink is allowed on the ground, as an offering to spirits; and the “Mangan taku,” where Cordillera food, either common, discovered or hidden away for so long, comes as culinary experts rate them as to taste.
Baguio’s Christmas celebration in 2019 with inspiration from a European country with Filipino accent on music through the Philharmonic orchestra and bayanihan dance company was also focused on recently. The Christmas fair blend was deemed a success with Balanag receiving accolades for directing the show.
His subjects for his works are common yet unique, down-to-earth and realistic: health and the environment, tourism, social activism, peace, ending poverty and economics, the youth and elderly; all focused on the betterment of the society.
Most of his recent works are on city and region’s resilience and bouncing back from the Covid-19 pandemic, the frontliners and tourism industry’s plight.
With his creativity, ingenuity and originality, Baguio-born and bred Balanag serves as an inspiration for aspiring young artists.
Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., Professional Service
Baguio-born and bred Romeo Brawner, Jr. is an academically prepared soldier, as he graduated from the Philippine Military Academy as class salutatorian.
A Lieutenant General of the Philippine Army, he also has three masters degrees up his sleeves: Master of Business Administration, Management of Technology from the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand and from the European School of Management in Oxford, United Kingdom, Master of Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College and Master of Science in Information Management from the Ateneo de Manila.
He was trained in the Advance Security Cooperation Course at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii; and had military training in the US for the international visitor leadership program on foreign policy and cyber security.
Brawner, Jr. had many assignments and designations on the ground, later as Deputy Commander of the Task Force Ranao and Spokesperson of Task Force Marawi. He was also designated as Brigade Commander of the 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi, after which he was Commandant of Cadets at PMA, his Alma Mater.
In Sept. 2019, when he was assigned at PMA; Asia’s premier military school, he institutionalized measures aimed to eradicate hazing of the cadet core. There is a need for change, and the present is the best time for reform, he said.
Brawner, Jr. is a recipient of many awards, including being a winner in the Search for the Outstanding Philippine Soldiers by the Metrobank Foundation and the Rotary Club of Makati Metro; and later the Award for Continuing Excellence in Service still by the Metrobank Foundation. He also received the Lapu-Lapu award for leadership from former President Rodrigo Duterte.
During his designation as commander of the103rd infantry Haribon Brigade in Marawi, three objectives were achieved: confront the remnants of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group; ensure the conduct of clean, honest and orderly elections and plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law; and lastly, the successful and peaceful rehabilitation of Marawi City.
Neutralization of enemy personalities was also done under his leadership, with the capture of high and low-powered firearms.
He continues to serve the country with PMA’s core values: “Selfless service to God and country, honor and excellence;” and motto: “Courage, Integrity, Loyalty.”
Judge Mia Joy C. Cawed, Professional Service
As a practicing lawyer and now as one of the city’s most respected members of the Bench, Judge Mia Joy C. Cawed has always committed and followed the adage, ‘Do what is right, Not what is easy’, where she does what must be done in the circumstances for the best of those concerned.
Orphaned at a young age with the death of his father due to a vehicular accident, she learned that independence, compassion and hard work are needed in life to be successful. Service for others was also impressed on her while still young.
In a distinguished career, Cawed received a plethora of awards including the UPAA Distinguished Award in Legal Development and Empowerment of Women and Children in 2022 by the UP Alumni Association; Gintong Tala Luminary Award for Government Service, Judiciary in 2017 by the City Government of Baguio; Outstanding Woman Awardee, Legal Profession Sector of the City of Baguio in 2016 by the City Government of Baguio; IBP Outstanding Legal Aid Lawyer for 2003-2005 in 2005 by the IBP Baguio-Benguet Chapter; and more.
She has been the Convenor at the Baguio Justice Hall since June 13, 2022 and the VP for Special Projects of the Philippine Judges Association as of 2022 ahd its Regional Director from 2020-2021; Regional Director, Philippine Women Judges Association, 2019-2020; President, Lady Lawyers of Baguio-Benguet; Member, Board of Management, Philippine Mental Health Association, 2006 to present; Member, International Association of Women Judges, 2019 to present; and was the past Secretary then Director of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
She is an avowed and tireless advocate in the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children, particularly those at risk and in conflict with the law.
For the past several decades, Cawed has been a regular lecturer/ trainer of the DSWD in training social workers of the Baguio, CAR and PNP in their capability building programs on court decorum and moot court by applying knowledge acquired in handling cases on child abuse, violation of RA 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children), youthful offenders and court procedure.
Cawed’s outstanding works and achievements has benefited the common people in her untiring dedication to her advocacy as well as the fair and speedy disposition of cases with compassion and in a holistic, multi-disciplinary and inter-agency fashion.
Nurse Ricky Balicdang Ducas, Community Service
A mental health advocate, Nurse Ricky Balicdang Ducas was an overseas foreign worker for some time where in addition to his regular job he volunteered to care and provide basic life support for underprivileged and abandoned children.
Coming home to Baguio later, Ducas found mental health care as his niche, a comfortable area in life; after being diagnosed with panic anxiety disorder (PAD) himself. With support from family and friends, he slowly gained back his confidence to get back to normal living.
Thereafter, he established the Anxiety and Depression support group, which extended services to individuals with mental health concerns and those with mild depression and suicidal tendencies, here in the city and as far as the Mountain Province.
Ducas then responded to distress calls using personal resources and is into pro bono speaking on mental health concerns in schools, to local government units and private institutions.
Psychological first aid, psychosocial processing, assessment and consultation, referral to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) for further medical and interventions are being done, with Ducas and his group spearheading the procedure.
A mental health medical mission with psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and nurses was also conducted for free for qualified indigent clients, still spearheaded by the Anxiety and Depression support group.
Help also poured from the city council, with the crafting and approval of a city ordinance as to mental health. The Department of Health (COH) also conferred to the city, an award for being one of the top cities nationwide for mental health program and advocacies, Ducas being a part of the undertaking.
Ducas has never ceased to be a worker, as he was part of the mobile vaccine team during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He continues to work through mental health care, helpline and consultations, medical missions, and wellness program; helping thousands of people across age, gender, status and indigenousity.
Arch. Dulthe Carlo Munar, Culture and the Arts
An architect by profession, Dulthe Carlo Munar, has made it his life’s purpose to making the world a better place by volunteering his time and considerable talents particularly in the fields of art and architecture.
As part of the SLU-Sunflower Children’s Center, Munar has contributed to the development of the city’s youth especially those in need of special protection and as a volunteer and supporter of the SLU Center of Culture and the Arts, he has been the stage designer during various art, theater, liturgical, gala and ceremonial performances.
Munar unselfishly contributes his time and talent as an art mentor to the city’s youth, as a judge in competitions, and to important causes like ‘Run for Hope’, and more. As an artist, mentor and member of the SLU Department of Architecture, he helped organize the ‘Healing Arts Project’ where paintings are placed in the rooms of patients in hospitals.
Munar has received awards from various organizations including the ‘Outstanding Personality in the Profession on Arts’ in 2020 by the United Architects of the Philippines;the ‘Artist to Design the American Corner in Baguio for American Spaces, Philippines’ by the US Embassy; UAP Presidential Award in 2007; and many more.
As an artist, Munar believes in volunteerism as he shares his time, talents, knowledge, experiences and resources with the less fortunate and particularly with upcoming artists, helping them find happiness and meaning in art and life.
Dr. Raymundo D. Rovillos, Professional Service
A historian, educator, and tireless community worker, these noble attributes combine to define the work ethic, public service mindset, and career principles of Dr. Raymundo D. Rovillos that began when he was executive secretary of the NGO, Education Forum Cordillera from 1986 to 1988 until his serving three terms as Chancellor of UP Baguio from 2012 to 2021.
As Chancellor, he introduced numerous programs and innovations including fortifying UP Baguio’s role as a center for culture, arts and creativity in the city and region; strengthened leadership in Cordillera and Indigenous Studies; Established the University’s strategic role in Sustainability Science; enhanced the wellbeing of UP Baguio faculty, administrative staff and students; and many more.
Dr. Rovillos continues his engagement with the city’s cultural, historical and creative sectors as an officer or member of various organizations including as Special Adviser on Cultural History and Indigenous Studies to the CHED Chairman and Co-Chair of the Creative Baguio City Council, among others.
His leadership has enabled the local creative sector (artists, artisans, and those who trade in arts and crafts) to be included in mainstream economic policymaking of the city that has resulted in a snowball effect in Baguio’s other economic sectors like the service sector.
Marybeth Yu So, Community Service
Ms. Mary Beth Yu So is an educator, skills development trainer and business woman, who shares time, talent and treasure to the community.
With a degree in tourism from the University of the Philippines (UP), masteral in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the Philippine Women’s University (PWU), and trainings from here and other reputable industries, she was well-prepared as she took on being faculty and dean in one college, and later as vice-president for academics in another college in the city.
With her expertise and experience, Yu So went on to be accredited as a trainer in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and was chosen as an outstanding educator in the hospitality and tourism practice. She was also elected as a Board of Directors of the prestigious Hotel and Restaurant Association of Baguio (HRAB), and is a member of advisory board, fellow, tourism trainer and certified hospitality professional in educational institutions. She is often requested as a resource and conference speaker in her field of expertise. She is also the recipient of numerous awards.
For years now, her family’s businesses in Baguio, La Union, Pangasinan and Ilocos has afforded employee dependents’ academic and sports scholarships; in the elementary, high school and college levels. Yu So has sent and is still sending beneficiaries to Masters and Doctorate schools, here and even in the Visayas and Mindanao area as she believes that education brings.hope and opportunities to everyone who attains it.
Affiliated in various groups, Yu So has donated finances and materials to several institutions, including schools, artists, orphanages, communities, in various areas.
Born in Cotabato, but has stayed in Baguio for the past 28 years, Marybeth Yu So is married to Kenneth So and they are blessed with two children: Calvin and Toni.
Rodolfo ‘Ompong’ Tan, Community Service
A civic-minded individual and photographer par excellence, Mr. Rodolfo ‘Ompon’ Ong Tan has greatly contributed in the promotion of Baguio and the rest of the Cordillera region for his compelling images.
He is a living example of the ‘bayanihan’ spirit in words and in action as he often shares his time, talent and treasure for the good of Baguio and its people that he dearly loves.
On so many occasions, Ompong has unselfishly utilized his vast skills, equipment and facilities when they are most needed by his fellow Baguiotes like during disasters and emergencies.
He continues to contribute to the promotion of the Summer Capital’s tourism and other sectors through photographic images published or exhibited in international, national and local publications or magazines over the past decades.
For more than a decade now, Ompong has been in the forefront of empowering people living with autism, especially children, in partnership with the Autism Society of the Philippines that later formed its chapter for Baguio and Benguet.
Through the ‘Colors of a Spectrum’ that started in 2009 in the city, those with autism get to learn and experience one-on-one basic photography through him and his merry band of mentor-photographers.
Ompong is also much involved with numerous other civic and community activities like outreach projects, donation drives, events for a cause, and many more. – Julie Fianza and Gaby Keith