A tribute to Sir Efren

By FRANCES MAE GEVERA-MACAPAGAT

PIA Davao office has become what it is now because of Director Efren. Long before the growth of social media, he has already been a community influencer who lays down his advocacies, convinces community leaders to support activities related to those, and utilizes communication platforms to forward these advocacies. Boss Efren was a staunch believer of community work and grassroots communication thus he initiated the creation of development communication networks such as the Information Officers Network in Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte. At work, he drives people to action; leaves the office last; uses sarcasm to change people’s behavior; and gains respect and honor from his superiors, colleagues, and staff.

His experience in government service made him the reliable official who leads and joins various community groups like the Association of Regional Executives of National Agencies (ARENA XI) where he gave birth to the idea of “Serbisyo Caravan”, a government approach consolidating various government services and bringing those to far-flung communities. This approach has been embraced by the ARENA XI for several years and is being replicated in other regions. Sir Efren also poured his time and energy serving as member of the Rotary and the Philippine Coast Guard Auxilliary.

He is the go-to man of the Davao media. He opened the PIA office to budding and veteran media. When the media needed a statement from a government office, they’d always call him to arrange for a press briefing or an interview. He is the government man they trusted because he understands the media.

Never satisfied on his weekday duties, Sir Efren offered his Saturdays practicing as an educator. Communication work was taught best by this man who practices in the real communication field. He has found a more significant niche by influencing the minds and learnings of students taking Master in Development Communication and in Public Administration.

When he finally exited government service in February 2018, it took him some time to gather his things from his office. It was his small space witness to the decades of hard work. It was his second home. When I asked him for his plans after retirement, he mentioned a bunch: go farming, continue teaching, work as a private media, or even do consultancy work. But God had other plans for him. Those 44 fruitful working years were more than enough for a man to influence a community; for a man to become a pillar of a government agency; for a man to gain respect of people from all walks of life. After retirement, Boss Efren had enough time for his wife Ma’am Patty who also retired from government service that same year, he had the time to listen to the superb piano recital of her daughter Aprille, and watch the violin recital of his grandkids. He had enough time to play his favorite “majong”, and actively engage in social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Like a father to her own child, Boss Efren allowed me to leave PIA Davao office in April 2012 and transfer to the Central Office in Manila so I can finally settle with my husband who resides and works in the metro. I know it was difficult for him to see me leave but like a father to her own child, he permitted but with a stern warning. He doesn’t want me to come back crying because of a failed marriage.  Despite the distance, he never got tired reminding me to work on and finish my post graduate degree. I can clearly hear him repeatedly say “ later, you will thank me for always reminding you to finish your masters”.  He might have grown tired convincing me to return to Davao until that night in November 2017 when he personally called and asked for the last time if I can come back and continue his work. I sensed the urgency of his request. I sensed how serious he was and concerned about the welfare of the office. I sensed the longing of a father for a daughter to come home. Then I decided to come home. For that, I thank him for the trust. I thank him for getting the best people for the job, for training us the “Efren way” and setting an example for which we in the PIA Davao still hold on until now.

Davao has lost a great man. PIA has lost a pillar; but Boss Efren has ensured that his works and the values he taught to everyone will be remembered.