Ramon Magsaysay awardee hopes to get a footbridge

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014


THE lone Filipino recipient of this year's Ramon Magsaysay Awards, Randy Halasan, said he is hopeful that the City Government of Davao will prioritize the construction of a foot bridge at Sitio Pegalongan, Malamba, Marilog District, where he works for the past seven years.

"Tulay gyud kay risky na gyud kaayo among kinabuhi.Hapit nami mangamatay dati. Miski hanging bridge lang gyud (A bridge because going there is very risky for us. There was a time when we almost died. A hanging bridge will do)," Halasan said when asked what he would request Duterte.

Halasan met with Duterte at Marco Polo Hotel Tuesday evening. He teaches at Pegalongan Elementary School, a remote area in Davao's Sitio Pegalongan, Malamba, Marilog District, some seven hours away from downtown area of Davao City.

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He said he crosses two rivers before reaching the school. Halasan said he travels two hours by bus from city proper, then an hour of habal-habal ride, and another four hours of walk.

He said the school had "no electricity, amenities were primitive, and the place was virtually cut off from communication with the outside world" when he started as one of two teachers assigned to teach grades one to six.

He became head teacher in 2010.

Halasan said he leads the community's farmers into having "a collectively-owned rice-and-corn mill, a seed bank, a cattle dispersal project, and horses for transporting their farm products."

The city mayor personally congratulated him for joining the ranks of Filipinos who were given the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award.

What makes the award more special is that he is the only Pinoy awardee this year.

Duterte assured Halasan the city will allocate funds for the bridge.

"Mauwaw ta mubalibad (It's shameful to reject). He won the award because of his human sacrifice and care for the human beings diri sa kalibutan. It's really love. It's sacrifice. It demands so much of your time and it could only mean one thing, love for your fellow men," Duterte said.

"Saludo ako. Bihira ako mag saludo," he added.

Halasan said Pegalongan Elementary School is the first national item.
He said the people in Pegalongan were his inspiration in his profession.

"Nagtuo ko nga naa ka mahimo nga ma improve ilang kinabuhi didto. Ang mga lumad diha mao na sila ang modelo para kadtong naa sa lahi lahi nga sitio musulod sa ilaha (I believe one can do something to improve their lives. The lumads are examples to those from different sitios)," he said.

He said he has been offered to teach in another school, one that is located "along the highway". But, he said "Dako pa ang buhaton didto (A lot of things need to be done there)."

Four other individuals and one group were also honored.

The four individuals are identified as Hu Shuli, a Chinese investigative journalist; Saur Marlina Manurung, an Indonesian anthropologist; Omara Khan Masoudi, director of the National Museum of Afghanistan; and Wang Canfa, a Chinese environmental lawyer.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 07, 2014.

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