Wanderlust | Mayor Sara Duterte leads Datu Bago Awards conferment

DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte, together with the Datu Bago Awardees Organization, Inc. board of trustees, led the conferment of the recipients of this year’s Datu Bago Awards last Mar. 13, Tuesday, at the grand ballroom of Royal Mandaya Hotel.

MISSIONARY, theologian, historian, anthropologist, writer and Datu Bago awardee Bro. Carlito Gaspar

MISSIONARY, theologian, historian, anthropologist, writer and Datu Bago awardee Bro. Carlito Gaspar

Datu Bago, named after the city’s renowned hero, is the highest award given by the City Government of Davao to outstanding Dabawenyos who have contributed to the growth and development of the city.

This year’s awardees include Bro. Carlito Gaspar, a missionary, theologian, historian, anthropologist and writer who championed the preservation and the cause of the lumad culture and staunch peace advocate through interfaith dialogues; Norma T. Javellana, an environmental advocate who tirelessly campaigned for open spaces, watershed conservation and the protection of Shrine Hills; Belen C. Laud, who made a mark in the cooperative movement as an outstanding leader, consultant, accredited mediator, conciliator, cooperative auditor and a formidable lecturer; Dr. Aland David Mizell, an American social scientist who spent more than a decade in the city serving the disadvantaged and the marginalized through scholarship for poor students and alternative schooling to inmates of Ma-a jail, and promoted sports to the poor children of Isla Verde; Ricardo N. Obenza Jr., an environmentalist, teacher and artist with an untiring advocacy for the visual arts ; Beethoven N. Sur, a sportsman who served as a commodore and district director of the Southeastern Mindanao Command and advocated for environmental protection, assuring safety of life and property at sea with his active service to the Philippine Coastguard Auxiliary; and Nieto L. Vitto, a champion of special and differently-abled children by crafting the first Special Education Program for the Graduate School of the University of Southeastern Philippines.

SOCIAL scientist and philanthropist Dr. Aland David Mizell with Datu Bago board of trustees chair Councilor Pilar C. Braga and Mayor Sara Duterte

SOCIAL scientist and philanthropist Dr. Aland David Mizell with Datu Bago board of trustees chair Councilor Pilar C. Braga and Mayor Sara Duterte

Mayor Duterte, who recalled her interaction with each of the Datu Bago Award recipients, delivered the program’s inspirational message.

“A city is more than its natural landscapes, its high rises and modern amenities. A city, at its core, is defined by its people. This is the reason why we celebrate the Araw ng Dabaw every year, as a salute to all Dabwenyos from all walks of life who lived with integrity, work with passion, and interact with one another in the spirit of respect for our cultural diversity,” she said.

ENVIRONMENTAL advocate Norma T. Javellana receives her award from the city mayor

ENVIRONMENTAL advocate Norma T. Javellana receives her award from the city mayor

Duterte recognized the awardees as a “special breed of Dabawenyos” and likened them to Datu Bago for their selfless contribution to the community. She also thanked them for choosing “to devote their lives for the furtherance of their respective causes for the benefit of the city”.

Incidentally, last March 9, the Davao City Council approved the city ordinance declaring Datu Bago as a hero of Davao City. Described as a “paramount warrior of Davao”, Datu Bago bravely fought against the Spanish conquistadors in order to keep Davao Gulf safe from the foreign colonizers. A chieftain with Kagan, Tausug and Maguindanaon ancestry, he was regarded as a pirate by the Spaniards but for the Moros and Lumads, he was a hero who courageously defended Davao, the last unoccupied territory in the archipelago.

MAYOR Duterte with this year's awardees and the Datu Bago board of trustees

MAYOR Duterte with this year’s awardees and the Datu Bago board of trustees

In honor of his bold feat, the late Mayor Elias Lopez, a Bagobo, created the Datu Bago Awards in 1969 to honor exemplary Dabawenyos. A monument of Datu Bago is currently being constructed near Gov. Generoso Bridge as a tribute of the early Dabawenyo’s heroism.

THE DESCENDANTS of Datu Bago with City Councilor Jimmy Dureza, Indonesian consul Endah R. Yuliarti and Japanese consul Tomoko Dodo

THE DESCENDANTS of Datu Bago with City Councilor Jimmy Dureza, Indonesian consul Endah R. Yuliarti and Japanese consul Tomoko Dodo

Seventh generation descendants of Datu Bago were also present during the ceremony led by Bia Bairendan Bago.

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