‘Time to be a hero for our heroes’

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
âTime to be a hero for our heroesâ
TOYM chairman Donnie Tantoco and his hero, his mother Nena.
STAR/ File

On this day when we honor heroes from our historical past, and nurse a healthy hangover from the American tradition of Thanksgiving, we are privileged to say “Thank you” to living heroes in our midst.

Especially because the Philippines’ COVID cases are declining as of this writing, in no small measure due to those who risked their lives saving the afflicted, we applaud our medical frontliners today.

Dr. Jonas Del Rosario

As everyone looks forward to recovery and better times, there are still many things that we need to work on and many whom we need to extend help to.

“It is a time to be a hero for our heroes. TOYM (The Outstanding Young Men) is honored and grateful to have three of the biggest names in music collaborate to offer their talents, time, and voices to drive awareness and support for the ‘Heroes Unmasked’ campaign,” says Donnie V. Tantoco, chairman of TOYM and a former TOYM awardee himself.

“Heroes Unmasked” is a campaign that benefits the Panatag na Kanlungan Project of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), which assists medical frontliners and volunteers. The endeavor is highlighted by an original song composition and music video created through the collaborative efforts of iconic musical artists Ryan Cayabyab, Lea Salonga and Gary Valenciano.

“We’re also very proud that Heroes is actually the first song ever that Lea and Gary have worked on together,” adds Donnie.  “As an institution that recognizes young individuals who have positively impacted the larger society, TOYM thinks it is time to take bolder action, and we hope that our call can be answered by the entire nation for the benefit of our medical frontliners.”

Through the years, TOYM has honored outstanding young men and women for their contribution to their countrymen’s welfare. Thus, TOYM is leading an initiative to raise funds to benefit PGH, in recognition of its efforts to provide quality health care for Filipinos from all socio-economic classes.

Historic for being the first song ever that Lea and Gary have worked together on, Heroes also aims to show solidarity with medical frontliners. (The music video is also easily searchable on YouTube, just key in Heroes Unmasked on the search bar.)

TOYM has also launched the Heroes Unmasked Song Challenge. Open to anyone 15 years old and above, participants can create a video and dedicate it to a frontliner they consider their hero. Cash prizes include a grand prize of P20,000, and P15,000, P10,000, and P5,000 for first, second and third runners-up, respectively. The challenge runs until Dec. 31.

For updates and details on the Heroes Unmasked campaign, visit www.toymheroescampaign.organd follow and like @toym_philippines on Instagram, @TheOutstandingYoungMen on Facebook, and @TOYM_Ph on Twitter.


I asked Donnie who his real-life heroes are. Aside from his late grandfather and namesake Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco, Donnie’s hero is a She.

“My other hero that inspired me and enlightened me the most these past 12 months is my 76-year old mom, Nena Tantoco. She put herself at risk by being in the field to be amongst families that were deeply affected by the pandemic. She did not give them handouts; she pointed them towards God. She sustained and nourished these families spiritually. She also shared her craft with them. She taught them how to gather twigs, branches, fallen leaves; and turn these into beautiful and functional decorations. She gave them a platform and a market wherein they could sell their work. She brought out their creativity, and she helped these families help themselves. I never saw stewardship in action like this.

“One thing that she did for free, is to give them all the medicines, natural remedies, PPEs that they needed to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID. I believe they were well protected even before they got vaccinated.”

Bravo, Nena Tantoco. She-ro!

Civil Service Commission awardees PGH’s director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi


The Civil Service Commission (CSC) recently conferred upon PGH director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi the 2021 Presidential Lingkod Bayan award, and PGH spokesman Dr. Jonas del Rosario, the 2021 Dangal ng Bayan award, the first time in its history that the state-run hospital received both awards in one year.

The awards are part of the CSC’s Honor Awards Program.

According to the CSC, the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award “recognizes exceptional or extraordinary contributions resulting from an idea or performance that had nationwide impact on public interest, security and patrimony.” Meanwhile, the Dangal ng Bayan Award is a recognition given to an individual for “exemplary ethical behavior in observance of the code of conduct” prescribed for government servants.

Legaspi is a neurosurgeon who was nominated to be PGH’s director in 2016. The CSC award cites him “for charting and carrying out a visionary course for the PGH as a premier institution for medical service, training and research.”

Legaspi, who was 2017’s  University of the Philippines Alumni Association awardee, said being PGH director is no easy task, especially since majority of Filipinos are poor and they think of the PGH as their only hope.

“I think one patient’s grateful comment sums it all up,” explained Legaspi when asked why he chose public service over practicing only in private hospitals here and abroad. “After undergoing a procedure to remove a tumor through a small opening in the skull, an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) profusely thanked us and said,   ‘Maraming salamat po, doctor.  Dahil sa experience po namin sa PGH, bumalik po ulit ang tiwala namin sa gobyerno (Thank you very much, doctor. Because of our experience with PGH, our faith in government has returned).”

Del Rosario, a US-trained interventional pediatric cardiologist who is also a clinical associate professor at PGH, was lauded “for being a quintessential servant leader in the span of his career as a cardiologist, researcher, teacher, mentor and administrator of the UP-PGH.

The PGH, a state-owned hospital administered and operated by the University of the Philippines Manila, is the largest government hospital administered by the university. It is the biggest hospital in the country with a 1,500-bed capacity and around 4,000 employees. It is a mixed-use hospital, with 1,000 beds for indigent patients and 500 beds for private patients. The PGH, being the largest training hospital in the country, is the laboratory hospital of health science students enrolled in the University of the Philippines. This includes students of medicine, nursing, physical therapy, pharmacy, occupational therapy, dentistry and speech pathology. *

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with