BY NATASHYA GUTIERREZ
POSTED ON 01/29/2014 3:50 PM | UPDATED 01/29/2014 4:13 PM
MANILA, Philippines – Three government workers – a forester, a disaster scientist and a Cabinet Secretary – are the awardees of the 2014 Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award.
Professor Arsenio Ella, who works for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI), Dr. Mahar Lagmay, executive director of Project NOAH, and Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson received their awards on Wednesday, January 29, from President Benigno Aquino III.
Aquino praised the 3 for finding solutions to help solve society’s problems.
Singson, who the President said he called to serve and recruited from the private sector, was recognized forrevamping the DPWH, and reforming the bidding process to become more transparent.
Aquino said the improvements have led to government savings.
“Hindi birong sakripisyo ito, lalo na dahil may reputasyon na noon ang DPWH bilang isa sa pinaka-corrupt na ahensiya ng pamahalaan. Nang maupo bilang kalihim, hindi lang paglalatag ng semento at aspalto ang pinagabalahan niya. Nagpasimula siya ng isang panibagong kultura ng propesyunalismo at katapatan. Dahil po dito, hindi bababa sa 19 bilyong piso ang natipid ng kanyang ahensya mula Hulyo 2010 hanggang Nobyembre 2013,” he said.
(It’s not a small sacrifice, especially since the DPWH has a reputation of being one of the most corrupt government agencies. Once he became Secretary, he did not just concern himself with asphalt and cement laying. He also created a new culture of professionalism and transparency. Because of this, the agency saved at least P19 billion from July 2010 to November 2013).
Lagmay meanwhile was hailed for using technology “to care for the Filipino people.” Aquino called Project NOAH – which delivers the latest information about weather-related disasters with the help of state weather bureau PAGASA – a “revolutionary contribution” in the government’s ability to prepare, deal with and rise from calamities. (READ: Rappler signs MOA with Project NOAH)
“Ang mga bagay na winiwido-wido at dinadaan sa tantsahan dati, nauunawaan na natin nang ayon sa totoo at mas mapagkakatiwalaang datos ngayon. Hindi na nga po kagulat-gulat na kinikilala na tayo sa buong mundo bilang ehemplo ng weather forecasting. Sa unang pagkakataon nga po sa loob ng mahabang panahon, hinahangaan ang isang teknolohiyang inisip, plinano, at ipinatupad ng Pilipino, dito sa Pilipinas, para sa kapwa Pilipino,” he said.
(Things that we used to guess or feel out, we now truly understand and can be trusted. It’s no longer surprising that we are recognized by the whole world as an example of weather forecasting. For the first time i a long time, technology thought of, planned and executed by a Filipino here in the Philippines for fellow Filipinos is being praised).
Another DOST scientist, Ella, was also recognized. Ella was awarded for his efforts to take care of the environment while finding practical solutions to the needs of communities.
Ella initiated the harvesting of resin from almaciga and pili trees, which increased the earnings of communities while at the same time preserving the trees.
“Ang ganitong solusyon ay maaari lamang manggaling sa isang ekspertong malalim ang kaalaman—hindi lamang sa kanyang larangan, kundi pati na rin sa mga komunidad na maaaring makinabang sa kanyang mga matutuklasan,” Aquino said of Ella.
(This type of solution can only come from an expert of deep knowledge – not just on his field but also on communities that can benefit from his discoveries).
Aquino reminded the 3 that their jobs are far from done with the growing needs of the country, and said he continues to rely on them.
“Nawa’y magpatuloy po ang inyong paglilingkod, at ipamahagi ninyo ang inyong kaalaman, upang dumami pa ang mga Pilipinong tutugon sa mga hamon ng kinabukasan,” he said.
(May your service continue, and may you continue to share your knowledge so that more Filipinos may learn to address the challenges of the future).
The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award is a project of Junior Chamber International (JCI) Senate Philippines and the Insular Life Assurance Co., Limited. – Rappler.com
This article was originally published in Rappler on January 29, 2014