In 1969, the Davao City government, through the leadership of Mayor Elias B. Lopez, launched the Datu Bago Awards as the highest award to be given to a Dabawenyo “who has contributed to the development of the city with exemplary competence and dedication and who best serves as a model of excellence and as inspiration to the residents of Davao.”
The award is given to all persons of any personality, living or deceased, born in Davao City or who have been a resident in the city for the last 10 years. The awarding is slated during the Araw ng Dabaw.
The award was named in honor of Datu Bago, the leader of the local chieftains who kept the Spaniards away from Davao Gulf up until 1840s. The Spaniards considered him a villain but history now thinks otherwise.
Since its institution, a total of 172 living and dead outstanding do-gooders in Davao City have received the prestigious award
EDGE Davao was launched in 2008 and so let’s start the list of winners in that year. (Other winners since the start of the awards have been featured by this paper earlier): Judge Renato A. Fuentes, “who has made his mark in the administration of justice by serving in various capacities;” Marina Bello Ruivivar, “for her exemplary life of service in education and the cooperative movement as well as in many other fields;” and Rosauro M. Borromeo, Jr., a businessman “who has reached out to help the less fortunate members of the community, especially the disabled and sick.”
(Note: The author cannot find the list of Datu Bago awardees for 2009.)
In 2010 was a record holder of sort. All three awardees were bestowed the posthumously: Alfonso Y. Aboitiz, Dr. Antony Principe, and Atty. Laurente C. Ilagan.
In 2011, six people joined the honorable roster: Archbishop Fernando R. Cappala, “known for promoting inter-religious dialogue, ecumenism, and the Mindanao peace process;” Antonio B. Arellano, “for his role in advancement of human rights;” Carmelina V. Francia, “for her efforts in putting Davao in the global map of leading cooperatives;” Mario L. Lim, “for actively teaching a newer generation of Mindanao artists to use the art of empowering oneself through physical, mental and spiritual aspect of human development;” Rogelio L. Lizada, whose historical book “documents the contribution of Davao’s pioneering families to the city’s growth and development,” and Guillermo P. Torres, Jr., “a known philanthropist with significant contributions to several charitable causes in Davao City.”
Only three awardees were named in 2012. Dulce Saavedra, an educator and a pillar of Girl Scout of the Philippines, was cited for being “the force behind the growth of the organization not only in the Davao region but in the entire Mindanao.” The two other awardees were Enrica Ongchua Babao, also an educator; and Linda Coronel Tesoro, an entrepreneur.
In 2013, only two personalities made it to the prestigious list. The first one was business Dennis A. Uy, founder and president of Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. whose corporate vision is “To be an indispensable partner in the journey of everyone whose life we touch.” Dr. Helen Grace Te-Santos, on the other hand, was one of the founders of the Davao Cancer Society and Cancer Awareness Programs; her name is synonymous with community service.
In 2014, only two prominent people were named: the late Mayor Elias B. Lopez and Dr. Perfecto A. Alibin. Lopez was cited not only for his legacy of institutionalizing the Datu Bago Awards but also for institutionalizing the Davao City Hymn (“Tayo ay Dabawenyo”) and the annual celebration of the “Araw ng Dabaw.” Alibin, on the other hand, was recognized for his contribution in the field of education, which put Davao City in the map of the academic world.
In 2015, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee in the person of Randy Hamili Halasan led the pack of eight recipients. He was cited for “his dedication as a teacher assigned in the hinterland of Marilog District to teach at Pegalongan Elementary School in barangay Malampas – a place devoid of electricity, transport service and other basic amenities.”
US-born Darrell Dean Blatchley was recognized “for his work as bone collector through his D’Bone Collector Museum located at Bucana, the only museum of its kind in the entire Mindanao and the country.” Dr. Mae Concepcion J. Dolendo was cited for “her outstanding work in pediatric oncology.”
Dr. Virginia Montenegro was recognized for having initiated the Cancer Detection Clinic which gives free pap smear and breast cancer examination to indigent women. John Ryan Largo was cited for his work and advocacy in saving the mountains of the world. Fe Bada Aroboi was hailed “for her work with the elderly through her Home for the Aged in Biao Guianga, Tugbok.”
The two remaining recipients were Amelia B. Bonifacio and Lydia J. Canson. Bonifacio was cited “for her work in education and development,” while Canson was recognized for her work “in uplifting the status of women.”
In 2016, only two recipients were named. Fr. William Joseph Malley, SJ founded of the Ignatius Institute of Religious Education Foundation in 1992. Through the institute’s scholarship program, “he contributed to the education and values formation of countless marginalized youth in the urban and rural communities in Davao City.” Dr. Teody Boylie Roxas Perez, was recognized “for catapulting Davao City to prominence because of the numerous local, national and international recognition he has received in visual arts.”
In 2017, two persons were given the award. Amalia “Amy” Bandiola-Cabusao was recognized for her contribution “in promoting press freedom and building capacities of campus and community journalists.” Rey Mudjahid “Kublai” Ponce Millan was cited for his contribution “to the development of Davao’s culture and arts.”
The year 2018 saw seven recipients. Bro. Carlito M. Gaspar, a missionary, historian, anthropologist and writer, was recognized for involving himself “in promoting the rich lumad culture through intellectual and moral teachings.” Next is Norma T. Javellana, an advocate and environmentalist “whose vision for the environment exemplified her empathy in establishing a beneficial community for the generations to come.”
Laud C. Belen, a cancer survivor, leader, mediator and lecturer, is cited “for her various cooperative-related work for numerous organizations” and “for her exemplary service and leadership.” American social scientist Dr. Aland David Mizell is the man behind College Behind Bars, described as “a mentoring program that allows prisoners to enhance their skills and teach them how to establish trusting personal relationships.”
The three remaining awardees were Ricardo N. Obenza, Jr., Beethoven Sur, and Nieto L. Vitto. Obenza is recognized for using art “as his medium in delivering his message about the environment and nature.” Sur, on the other hand, is known as a “trailblazer in the protection and preservation of the environment.” Vitto, who received several citations from different award-giving bodies, is touted to be the Father of Special Education at University of Southeastern Philippines.
Last year, there were only five awardees. Atty. Koronado B. Apuzen led the list; he was cited for dedicating his life “to promote the rights and welfare of workers, farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries and rural cooperatives.” Ines P. Mallari, an educator committed to peace, “works with young people in the Philippines and in Japan, helping them to have a better understanding of one another’s history and culture.”
Datu Rodolfo M. Mande, the third recipient, “has been working tirelessly to promote his indigenous culture and heritage as well as to ensure his tribe’s recognition and inclusion in the city’s economic, political, and social life.” Mary Ann Maceda Montemayor was recognized “for raising the level of awareness and appreciation for Davao’s capacity to host important national and international events as well as in promoting Davao as a globally competitive destination for tourism and investment.”
The fifth recipient was Antonio B. Partoza, Jr., described as “a visionary entrepreneur and philanthropist.” The citation reads: “A committed humanitarian, he uses his entrepreneurial skills in the service of marginalized communities in the city through various civic organizations.” – ###