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Modern-day Filipino heroes honored

Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Natatanging Bayaning Pilipino Dr. Roel Cagape

MANILA, Philippines -  “If you have the ability to do good in this world, you have the moral obligation to do so.” 

Borrowing that line of Peter Parker in the recently-shown Amazing Spider-Man, ABS-CBN chairman and CEO Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III has clearly expressed how modern-day Filipino heroes have done their part of touching the lives of other people in a manner they deem best.  

“They have no special powers, no access to abundant resources, no network of influential connection but just the same they are the people who have lived up to the moral obligation to do good,” Lopez said during the recently-held Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Bayaning Pilipino awarding ceremonies at the Dolphy Theater. “Within the sphere of their influence, within the limits of their reach and capability, they created immeasurable and eternal change in the lives of the people they’ve touched.”

Working hand in hand with Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Bayaning Pilipino awards in selecting this year’s recipients is the UGAT Foundation headed by Fr. Nilo Tanalega. Recognitions for outstanding Filipino organizations overseas were also included in the list of nominees.

“We looked for people who have sacrificed themselves for the betterment of their community. These people placed community service above themselves,” Fr. Nilo said. 

Ten out of the 27 finalists received this year’s Bayaning Pilipino awards for their selfless love and extraordinary effort of reaching out to those who are in need.

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Bayaning Pamilyang Pilipino awardee Gamez Family with ABS-CBN president and COO Charo Santos-Concio (leftmost) – Photos By ALLAN SANCON

Dr. Roel Cagape, a doctor from General Santos, is the Bayaning Pilipino awardee in the Individual Category. He voluntarily renders medical services to people from rural and far-flung areas of GenSan. Every last week of the month, he tirelessly treks for one and a half days the mountainous area of Malapatan and stays there for a week to conduct medical missions and feeding programs for malnourished children.

“Even I was puzzled why I am feeling the pain of other people,” said Dr. Roel who started giving free medical services since he graduated from medical school 25 years ago. “I find joy in reaching out to the needy without asking for anything in return. Conducting medical missions is my form of relaxation. You wouldn’t believe me when I say there are times when I don’t have money in my wallet, kahit pambayad ng tricycle wala, but with God’s grace I am able to survive and continue to do the things that make me happy. ‘Yung mga taong natulungan ko ay tumutulong din.”

Dr. Roel also created the I-text mo kay Doc Program for people seeking medical advice anytime of the day. He also taught people from the mountains to use horses in transporting patients during emergency situations through Ambulansyang Kabayo.

In the Guro Category, Rebecca Ouano of Cebu City bested four other finalists with her undying passion for teaching. Aside from teaching the children of Tejero Elementary School, she still finds the time to voluntary teach during weekends and provides free daily supplementary feeding program to 200 streetchildren.

The Gamez Family of Oriental Mindoro, on the other hand, received the Bayaning Pilipino-Pamilya award for their dedication to community service. The family matriarch, Virginia, wasn’t able to finish school but it didn’t hinder her from instilling in her children the value of education and let them share their knowledge to the less fortunate. Every member of the family has been doing volunteer work and outreach programs.

Pinoy organizations overseas were also recognized for their exemplary deeds. Sagip Migrante Japan and NetFil received the Bayaning Pilipino Global awards for their continued support to Filipino workers who are victims of tsunami that hit Japan last year.

Other winners in the Global Category include the Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture (Canada), Pusong Pinoy.Org (USA), Kapit-Bahayan Cooperative Limited (Australia), Lahing Kayumanggi Dance Company (UK) and Filipino Badminton Committee Kuwait Philippines, Inc. (Middle East).

It is always inspiring to learn stories of people who continue to do good for others. And seeing them in the flesh gathered in one venue while watching video clips of their acts of kindness will make one realize that though one cannot do everything, one can indeed do something.

(Hosted by Ariel Ureta and G Tongi, the Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Bayaning Pilipino awarding ceremonies will air on Aug. 26.)

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