At the height of the civil war in Yemen on 17 August 2015, the Port of Hodeidah where the MV Horizon was berthed was bombed by the Saudi-led coalition.
It could have been a major catastrophe at sea if not for the decisiveness and maneuvering skills of the 22 Filipino Crew of MV Horizon who are honored as Bagong Bayani Outstanding Employees.
Captain Virgilio A. Javier wasted no time directing his crew to proceed to the lower deck for shelter.
After getting clearance from the vessel owner to leave the port due to the dangerous situation, the crew successfully brought the vessel to safety using their maneuvering skills and sheer determination. They were able to do this amid continuous bombings and zero visibility brought by the thick smoke.
The crew of MV Horizon has shown decisive action and exemplary teamwork in a risky situation that prevented the loss of lives and property and potential damage to the environment. They have set a good example not only to their fellow Filipino seafarers but to all their colleagues at sea.
Captain Belen has been a seafarer for thirty (30) years. His decisiveness and readiness to take action when duty calls has brought him to where he is today.
This was exhibited on the 24th of December 2015 when Captain Belen led a rescue operation of two European crew onboard a race yacht whose lives at that time were threatened by huge waves and rough winds while sailing. His vessel MV Star Isfjor was on its way to The Netherlands from the USA when the call to assist was received. He immediately led his team to battle ten-meter waves and strong winds without any hesitation on the imminent danger that lies ahead. Despite extreme weather conditions and several unsuccessful attempts, Capt. Belen did not waver in his strong determination until he was able to save the precious lives of the two sailors.
This heroic feat and that of his crew was recognized in various media platforms in Europe, once again proving the Filipino Seafarers’ gallantry.
The leadership, excellent seamanship and heroism of Captain Belen makes him truly worthy for the Bagong Bayani Outstanding Employee Award.
A native of Cebu, Captain Sison has been a seafarer for more than thirty (30) years having obtained his Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation at the Philippine Merchant Maritime School-Manila in the 80’s. The formative years he spent at the University of San Carlos in Cebu has greatly influenced his desire to help the needy early on in his life.
Captain Sison is a Bagong Bayani Outstanding Employee Awardee for saving the lives of nine (9) Algerian refugees who experienced being aimlessly adrift for days in the Mediterranean Sea without food and water.
On the 24th of August 2015, Captain Sison and his crew, while on their way to Spain onboard MV Star Herdia spotted these helpless refugees who have been refused entry by the European countries. He immediately contacted the Algerian authorities to report about the plight of their fellow nationals but was refused help.
While fully aware that he will get the ire of the Spanish authorities, his fortitude to save precious lives prevailed upon him to rescue the beleaguered refugees. With the help of his crew, he provided them with food and temporary shelter. Capt. Sison never regretted his decision and will continue to risk his life and limb to help others in distress.
This makes him truly commendable as a Bagong Bayani Awardee.
Daniel Galano Cabasa, an electrical engineer by profession, has worked overseas for the past seventeen (17) years holding managerial positions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
He is a project manager who possesses solid leadership and technical skills in the field of power and energy sector providing inspiration to other Filipino electrical practitioners and skilled professionals. He unselfishly shared his skills and expertise in the field enabling his fellow Filipinos to work with pride and dignity, as well as uplift their quality of life by having a better job as licensed professionals.
One of his outstanding achievements was his unconditional support for the under-board Filipino electrical practitioners and electricians in Riyadh to become licensed professionals in the field of electrical engineering. His unique way of teaching enabled them to have a better passing rate in the exams by sharing his theoretical and technical skills as Board Reviewer/Instructor in the Special Professional Licensure Board Examination (SPLBE) regularly conducted in Saudi Arabia under the supervision of the Professional Regulation Commission.
He also conducted skills development trainings and seminars for professional advancement and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Program in fulfillment and preparation for registration to the Asean Accreditation for Professional Engineers (ACPE).
Mr. Cabasa was Chapter President of the Integrated Institute of Electrical Engineers – Central Region Chapter- Saudi Arabia (IIEE-CRCA) in 2014 where he also served in various capacities for many years. He strongly advocated for global competitiveness during his term challenging its members to equip themselves with necessary trainings in supervisory and managerial skills, and served as channels for the exchange of knowledge, technical information, and skills development, among others.
In recognition of his significant contributions for the benefit of Filipino workers, including his involvement in many socio-civic activities, he was conferred the prestigious “Gawad ng Pangulo,” award for Banaag Category, representing the IIEE-CRCA in 2014. To this day, he continues to be involved with the organization as its Chapter Adviser.
Earlier, through his dedication and perseverance in helping fellow practitioners, he was recognized by the IIEE National Committee on Selection and Awards as one of the Most Outstanding Electrical Practitioners.
Mr. Cabasa is most worthy of emulation for the Bagong Bayani Award for Outstanding Employee.
Professor Joeffrey Maddatu Calimag, Ph.D., is the only Southeast Asian professor at the University of Ulsan in South Korea teaching in International Business, Trade and Global Management.
As an esteemed professor and scholar, Dr. Calimag has delivered a number of lectures not only in South Korea but in various countries in Southeast Asia including the Philippines as an expert in international business.
He has worked tirelessly as an OFW and has made significant contributions in promoting the welfare of Filipinos and other migrant workers in South Korea. Dr. Calimag is an advocate of financial literacy having conducted several seminars to Filipino communities in South Korea. He is also the adviser of the Financial Literacy Advocates Network (FLAN), a newly organized group in South Korea that resulted from the activities of the Global Filipino Investor (TGFI). Whenever he is in Manila, he is a regular guest and resource person at the ABS-CBN Teleradyo show aired every Sunday, discussing relevant topics on saving and budgeting tips during the holidays and personal finance of migrant workers and their families.
An advocate of volunteerism, he promotes the welfare of migrants by serving as a counsellor at the Korea Migrants Center for almost five years to different nationalities. He was also a news anchor of the Migrants’ Network TV Multilingual Migrant News program at MNTV.net, English editor of Migrant OK News Magazine, Public Information Officer of the Association of Filipino Educators in Korea (AFEK) and editor-in-chief of the Sulyapinoy Newsletter of the Filipino EPS Workers Association (FEWA).
Dr. Calimag has helped bridge friendship and foster goodwill between Filipinos living in South Korea and the Koreans. He has been the editor of several Korean-Filipino language guide books intended for the use of multicultural families and migrant workers, thus, bringing new insights in multiculturalism in South Korea.
His expertise in the Korean language and knowledge of labor laws and immigration policies proven useful as a mediator and translator in conflicts and labor disputes involving migrant workers.
For his numerous accomplishments as an OFW and his great efforts in promoting the welfare of Filipinos and other migrant workers in South Korea, Dr. Calimag is bestowed the Bagong Bayani Award for Outstanding Employee.
Dr. Juan Cruz Lucero, Jr. is a teacher for 25 years specializing in the field of special education for children with autism, having spent the last four (4) years in the United States of America. He has completed numerous trainings on special education for children with autism and was given a certificate of appreciation for mentoring students with special needs.
Owing to his excellent performance in classroom teaching, he was selected as one of the teachers of Gallup-McKinley County Schools to qualify for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) retention, an education grouping used worldwide when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness of students in the science and technology department.
Further, in recognition of his teaching competencies, the State of New Mexico granted him a Level III-A Instructional Leader Special License.
True to his commitment, Dr. Lucero wrote a workbook on mentoring that is being used by students for career readiness pathway.
His hometown in Norzagaray, Bulacan has also recognized his notable achievements. In 2006, the Norzagaray Smiles Club, in appreciation of town mates who have accomplished their goals in life, awarded him a Plaque of Recognition as an Outstanding Citizen in the field of education.
For having exhibited excellence in the field of special education for children with autism, Dr. Lucero is accorded the Bagong Bayani for Outstanding Employee.
A nurse by profession, Henelyn De Ruña-Collis rose from the ranks to become Assistant Director of Al Jahra Hospital in Kuwait where she dedicated 30 productive years of her life. She went through numerous experiences such as war, fire, terror attack and trauma which strongly put her skills, courage, patience and strength to the test. Her selfless actions towards patients, regardless of their color, race or belief, saved the lives of many, thus earning the admiration and respect of various nationalities.
In 1990, when Kuwait was invaded by Iraq, she remained steadfast despite imminent danger. Neither did she opt to escape or leave. She bravely stayed behind to attend to the sick and wounded civilians and military soldiers alike. She also helped her colleagues overcome their fears and focus on saving lives which uplifted their morale and gave them the drive to help others.
In March 2003, when Iraq again attempted to invade Kuwait and spread the use of nerve gas as a potent means for mass killing, Ms. Collis immediately volunteered to spearhead a comprehensive training program for nurses and hospital personnel on how to handle and treat patients exposed to the harmful substance. She was a leader, a teacher, a health care provider who inspired the hospital personnel to contribute their precious time and share their knowledge to avoid major casualties.
In 2008 and 2011, she fearlessly led rescue operations beyond her duty and capacity when a fire broke during a wedding in two separate occasions. These were considered biggest emergencies in Kuwait where hundreds of children and women suffered severe burns, resulting to death of thousands.
Ms. Collis is also an active Filipino community leader and volunteer in various socio-civic activities and outreach programs in Kuwait. She heads the Filipino Nurses Association in Kuwait (FNAK) which initiated medical missions and the promotion of welfare of Filipino domestic helpers in close coordination with the Philippine Embassy. She is also the President of Hiligaynon Community in Kuwait (HCK) which organized fund raising campaign and charitable activities for the benefit of distressed OFWs and calamity stricken areas in the Philippines.
Ms. Collis is a living modern hero who truly deserves the Community and Social Service Award and the distinguished Blas F. Ople Para sa Natatanging Bagong Bayani Award and worthy of being dubbed as “Florence Nightingale of the Philippines.”
An exemplary IT professional, a philantropist, a well regarded Filipino community leader, a true National Pride perfectly describe Fidel Manzo Escurel.
He ardently served the Filipino community in various capacities such as the Founder and Vice-Chairperson of Foundation of Filipino Workers Worldwide (FFWW) offering socio civic service and lending credibility to Filipinos in Qatar, USA, and other countries; President of Romblomanon Diri sa Qatar (RDQ) which spearheaded a donation campaign for typhoon victims in the Philippines. He was also Overall Chairperson for the 2012 Philippine Independence Day Organizing Committee (PINOC); Overall Leader/Coordinator for the preparation of Philippine festivals, parade, trade fairs, publication of “Isang Sulyap Souvenir Program and various Philippine Embassy outreach programs and charitable projects.
Mr. Escurel organized a series of financial literacy trainings/seminars for our kababayans and actively engaged in the promotion of human rights, gender equality, health care access and opportunity for low income earners.
He has consistently gone beyond the call of duty to be of service to his countrymen. He always extends volunteer service to the Philippine Embassy in Doha. His noble acts to help the Filipino community made him a recipient of several citations.
His leadership in socio-civic activities has benefitted not only the overseas Filipino workers but his kababayans as well. He was active in various programs such as Rebuild: Convergence for Sustainable Livelihood Project Assistance under the “Bangon Western Visayas” through CFO-LINKAPIL.
Fidel Manzo Escurel is worthy of emulation of Filipinos overseas and deserving of the Bagong Bayani Award for Community and Social Service.
9. LITO NAVARRO
Lito Rayman Navarro joined Cornwall Enterprise Company Ltd. in 2004 as Machine Operator. Although that was his main job assignment, he willingly volunteered to do other tasks whenever a co-worker is unavailable or a department needs additional manpower. He did not only volunteer for the sake of earning extra income, but completed each task promptly and diligently. Having gained full knowledge of the different aspects of the company’s operations, he was designated as a Quality Controller.
He is a friend to his co-workers, always ready to assist and share technical knowledge. He was able to adapt well to people in all levels of the organization and is a dependable and trustworthy employee.
With these traits, he was the only foreign worker who was granted an all access authority in the company’s premises. He was also given the responsibility to lead the workers in the start and end of daily job routine. His efforts were considered as a vital contribution to the company’s growth and success. He was conferred the prestigious “Outstanding Foreign Worker Award in Taiwan” by the Council of Labor Affairs in April 2014 for his exemplary work ethics.
Despite working overseas, Mr. Navarro did not forget to give back to his countrymen. He spearheaded several advocacy work such as the establishment of scholarship funds, medical outreach, cultural, sports and environmental programs through a local non-government organization “INARO – KABABALI/IYO.
Mr. Navarro has not only proven to be an exemplary Overseas Filipino Worker who brought honor to the Philippines but an outstanding Filipino willing to extend selfless contribution to his motherland and uplift the lives of his fellow countrymen. He proved that distance is not a hindrance to a willing spirit making him completely worthy to be recognized as recipient of Bagong Bayani Award for Community and Social Service!
*Photos and text credits of Bagong Bayani Awards