Naga honors distinguished citizens on 64th charter day
By Juan Escandor Jr.
A former janitor, a retired teacher, an advocate of pro-poor development, a mover of Bicol literature and language, a nutrition scholar, and a dynamic organization were honored Monday night on the occasion of the 64th charter anniversary of this city, the heart of Bicol.
Five distinguished Nagueños and a business chamber were honored June 18 at the Avenue Convention Plaza here for “their exemplary achievements” that “have contributed positively to Naga City’s development, honor and glory.”
Now on its 44th year since it started in 1968 to give recognition to Nagueño achievers, this year’s awardees were led by Salvador Del Castillo, a janitor at the city hall in 1971 who eventually rose from the ranks to become a certified public accountant and lawyer and got himself elected as city councilor before being appointed as bureau chief in the Department of Finance. He was given the highest distinction as the Distinguished Mayoral Awardee of 2012.
The nomination committee describes Del Castillo as “an epitome of Nagueños’ humility, persistence and commitment to excellence” in which “his perseverance and belief to education were not put in vain.”
Del Castillo was able to send himself to school and finished Bachelor of Science in Commerce major in Accounting which propelled his career in government service. Later, he took up law, graduated and passed the Bar in 1997, four years after passing the accountancy board in 1993.
The nomination committee found Del Castillo’s integrity and exemplary dedication throughout his extensive career in government service from the beginning up to the present, which earned him a “Dangal ng Bayan” Award from the Civil Service Commission in 1995.
At present, the highest Mayoral awardee serves as executive director of the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) leaving behind a trail of government service record as accountant, auditing examiner, acting city administrator, and city councilor of Naga City.
In his response, Del Castillo, who is in his past fifties, thanked his deceased father for the discipline and perseverance he learned since he was 10 years old which he said was his foundation of who he is right now.
Four other individuals and a business group were given the Special Mayoral Citation.
Retired teacher Liliosa G. Valiente, 87, was recognized for her devotion to give free preparatory education to underprivileged kids living around their neighborhood in Ramaida Subdivision in Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City.
Valiente started teaching kids in her neighborhood since 2006 under a family-project called Project Lily, which sons Carlo and Tito and daughter Lilibeth put up to help her overcome the grief for the loss of her husband, Jose Sr. who died in 2005.
Project Lily also provides the kids bags and school supplies and sometimes used clothing and even umbrellas with Valiente asking parents to plant “malunggay” in return.
The nomination committee cites Valiente as “a true manifestation of the word “mother” who continues “to go on and use” her loss to gain and give more to her children.
For nurturing Bicol literature and language through her outstanding achievement as literature and communication teacher and book author, Dr. Paz Verdades Santos also received a Special Mayoral Citation.
Santos earned her Gawad Francisco Balagtas “for her significant contribution to the blossoming of the Philippine and Bikol language and literature” that the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino awarded to her last year.
She authored an anthology of Bicol women writers entitled “Hagkus: Twentieth Century Bikol Women Writers” (2004) and anthologies of Bicol literature, namely “Maharang, Mahamis na Literatura sa mga Tataramon na Bikol” (2010) and “Sagurong 100 na Rawitdawit sa Manlain-lain na Tataramon Bikol” (2011).
For her significant contribution in teaching literature and as a communication teacher, Santos was granted the Gawad Paz Marquez Benitez by the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (Umpil).
The nomination committee also recognized the achievement of grassroots nutrition scholar Marilou P. Cañete for bringing honors to Naga City by “being the 2011 National Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholar” which the National Nutrition Council of the Department of Health conferred.
Cañete received the same award in 2010 and was the 3rd runner-up in 2009. “For three consecutive years, she has been the pride of the entire Bicol Region as the Regional Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholar for Region 5 in 2009, 2010 and 2011.”
Described as “a pro-poor development economist,” Nicolas Beda Priela received the Special Mayoral Award for devoting “his life to the development of his less fortunate fellows. His practical and fruitful insights had been rendered to various government agencies in their different pro-poor development programs.”
Priela was credited as one of the key people who brought forth and popularized the Peñafrancia Fiesta in other countries which resulted to the tremendous increased numbers of tourists and balikbayan visiting Naga City during the celebration in September.
“His integrity, brilliance, and heart for the masses are indeed worthy of recommendation,” the citation said.
And lastly, the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (MNCCI) received the Special Mayoral Citation because it “has been pushing for the higher good and promoting social programs in partnership with the City Government of Naga and other neighboring municipalities.”
MNCCI has earned the title as the Most Outstanding Chamber in South Luzon and the Philippines which put their name in the Hall of Fame of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Forty individuals and three schools were cited with City Excellence Award for various achievements in Mathematics, Science, athletics and national board exams.
Naga City is the only chartered city in Bicol that is independent from the province by virtue of Republic Act 305, whose House bill was authored by then Congressman Juan Q. Miranda and promulgated on June 18, 1948. Its first city mayor was Leon S.A. Aureus, the founding publisher of Bicol Mail.