MALOLOS CITY—We love what we do.
This was how Susana “Toots” Ople summarized the secret of awardees in the annual Dangal ng Lipi, the highest recognition given by the provincial government to outstanding Bulakenyos.
As one of the 11 awardees on Sunday night, Ople, the youngest daughter of the late statesman Blas F. Ople, said advocacies pursued by fellow awardees are neither a job nor a burden to bear.
“It is part of our mission in life, a vocation, an extension of our humanity and a mirror of us as a Bulakenyo,” she said in Filipino as she delivered an impromptu speech in response after the awarding.
As president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center that assists overseas Filipino workers especially victims of human trafficking, the young Ople said they pursued their advocacies without wanting anything in return.
However, she was thankful that what they are doing gets noticed, stressing that it is always sweeter to receive recognition from one’s own province. In behalf of Dangal ng Lipi awardees, the young Ople offered their services saying that they are willing to help the province as part of the provincial government’s council of advisers based on every awardee’s field of expertise.
Other awardees like Engineer Roderick Dela Cruz, a dam safety expert based in the United States said he is also willing to share his expertise. Dela Cruz received the award in the expatriate Bulakenyo category.
At present, Dela Cruz is planning to conduct an independent comprehensive flood study in his hometown of Hagonoy which suffers perennial flooding. Other Dangal ng Lipi awardees for this year are retired Chief Supt. Enrico Salapong of Bulakan (Professional), Gregoria Simbulan of Baliwag (trade and industry), Denisa Reyes of Calumpit (arts and culture), Dr. Flaviana Hilario of Guiguinto (science and technology), Dr. Alberto De Leon of Baliwag (health), Dr. Allan De Guzman of Baliwag (education), Vincent “Chot” Reyes of Malolos City (sports), Secretary Mar Roxas (Tanging Dangal ng Lipi), and Engineer Francisco Duran of San Rafael (community service).
Of the 11 awardees, Roxas and Reyes did not make it to the awards night as Roxas is busy with the Zamboanga crisis, while Reyes is guiding Gilas Pilipinas Basketball team in tune up games abroad.