Our local hero
BUSINESS AFTER BUSINESS - Romelinda Garces (The Freeman) - August 8, 2019 - 12:00am

The dare of Isko Moreno has confronted our local government officials with the impetus to do more than what their comfort zones can provide. Those who are not used to doing the run-around may have to get out of their swivel chairs and do the legwork themselves. But there are those who have in their own little way done great things without having to cater to an electoral mandate. People in government who strive to do that unexpected best – that being as stereotyped – to create what should be the real prototype of government service.

There are many of them. Sitting quietly and simply doing their jobs with the integrity and responsibility. Knowing that their accountability is not in fact so much on pleasing the boss but to please a bigger, omniscient boss, and these are the people who go beyond their calling, and even if thrown into the deep waters, will swim or find a way to catch the nearest drift wood and make a raft, so others with like thinking can likewise share the ride.

In Mandaue City, there is such a person. Unassuming and passionate in whatever she does. It is no wonder that almost every year since the time I knew her, she would always get the most outstanding Department Head award.

Engineer Marivic Cabigas is the Transformation Queen. If I could make my own sash that would be the label I would pin on her with a string of hearts for her crown and a large one at the end of her scepter. For nowhere have I seen such passion at work.

When we first worked together, it was for the Bridge Park in Mandaue City. Then, it was our task to make a small park for the city aside from that in front of the City Hall. And the place came alive in no time because not only did Engr. Marivic work the place into a beautiful landscape, she was also able to motivate her staff to maintain the area until further development was introduced.

Now she is back to the Umapad Landfill as its manager. She was first assigned to the area in 2014 by Mayor Jonas Cortes. Initially she thought she must have done something bad to be sent to the dump site with all its squalor. It was later explained to her that it was her focus and passion that earned her this new assignment. Mayor Cortes was confident she was the right person to transform the dumpsite into a more efficient landfill. Hesitant but challenged, Engr. Marivic marched on.

In her first 80 days she was able to convert the cluttered dumping ground into a more organized facility, utilizing both the government staff and the waste pickers to segregate and separate the garbage into what could be re-used, recycled and composted. The informal settlers whose livelihood depended on the refuse that abounded in the area slowly warmed to her noting her sincerity in hoping to uplift their deplorable living conditions.

Even though her role was to manage the landfill, she also took care of the 400 residents in the area of which 50% were children. Taking into consideration the children’s need for education, she made an informal daycare center which later on was formalized to be able to teach the young kids how to read and write as they were too shy to go to the schools nearby as they would often get bullied for living in the dumpsite.

After two years of working as the landfill manager, Engr. Marivic was given a new assignment under a new mayor, recognizing her leadership and skills in organizing she was among those who took the lead in rehabilitating the Butuanon River.

Now the role remains. She still has to take part in the river rehabilitation even if she was returned to the landfill as its manager once more. Heading the Department of General Services, Engr. Marivic’s responsibilities are not easy. The spread is wide and she has to take care of over a thousand individuals who are under her supervision, not to mention her advocacy for the waste pickers.

But it is passion that prodded her on. And it is no wonder that she was granted the regional award  for the Bayaning Filipino, which is a recognition of individuals who have given exemplary service to the Filipino. The Bayaning Filipino is a Gawad Geny Lopez Award which recognizes ordinary citizens who have done something good for fellow citizens. 

This award-giving body normally chooses only private individuals whose advocacies or volunteer service have generated positive results for development. Engr. Marivic is the only government employee who was acknowledged for her “beyond the call of duty” efforts, by making it her cause to give the young children and even their parents at the dumpsite, a chance to a better life.  

When you visit the Mandaue Landfill today, you will see a small daycare center.  Colorful and dainty. Beside it is a small eco-park where the children can play. Near the school are wash areas where children can keep clean. The place is now an open space for opportunities.  And all because of this local hero who found hope and made it real.

“This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls.  In fact, hope reaches behind the curtain and into the most holy place.” Hebrews 6:19

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