WITH little cash in his pocket and an extra large suitcase filled with newly tailored nurse uniforms, Dr. Rhigel Jay Tan, 22, left the country in 1994 to try his luck in the US.
Tan recalled that when he first arrived in Las Vegas, he was excited to see the place and start a new life only to find out that he had no one to turn to on his first night.
Those first four hours on foreign shores were the longest four hours in his life, he said.
But his faith in the Sto. Niño never wavered and that kept him going for the next few years.
He first served as a nurse assistant until he earned his doctorate degree in nursing.
Tan, who is a native of Barangay Duljo-Fatima, Cebu City and a graduate of the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), became the first Asian and Filipino to be elected as president of the Nevada State Board of Nursing in its 95 years of existence.
He is also the first Asian and Filipino to sit as part of the national board examiner, giving licensure exams for nurses throughout the US and Canada.
Because of his achievements, Tan was among the recipients of the Mayor's Special Awardees during the 80th Cebu City Charter Day Awarding Ceremony and Testimonial Dinner last Friday night.
Tan said he was honored by the award, adding that he wants to share the recognition with other Cebuanos working abroad.
He said that he wanted to work hard and excel in his field to bring the pride back to the Cebuanos.
He said he owes his college education to the CCMC College of Nursing, a City Government-run tertiary education.
“I'm very thankful for the recognition because I felt like I'm also representing my fellows in Barangay Duljo.
In the past few years, it has had a very challenging image but I want to emphasize that aside from being Cebuano, I'm a Duljoanon,” Tan told SunStar Cebu.
Aside from Tan, the other recipients of the Mayor's Special Award werethe City of Haarlemmermeer; the Cebu Provincial Board; Gov. Hilario Davide III; Senior Supt. Joel Doria, director of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO); retired senior supt. Ma. Luisa Hadjula of the Bureau of Fire Protection; Task Force Alpha; Paolo Dy; and Jay Kummer Teberio.
The city police director didn't expect to receive the award and was happy when he was informed about the recognition.
Mayor Tomas Osmeña initially wanted Doria's predecessor to hold on to the post, but since assuming office last July, the senior superintendent has been working hard to meet Osmeña's thrust in peace and order.
Doria shared the award with all the other personnel at the CCPO.
Teberio, the water vendor who worked hard to finish college, was thankful for the award.
“I'm very happy with the award because this is part of my hard work to inspire the others,” he said.
Dr. Carlito Astillero, Land Transportation and Franchising and Regulatory Board 7 Director Ahmed Cuizon and Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell were recognized as Outstanding Individuals.
Outstanding Institution Awards were handed to Cebu K9–Crowd Control Volunteers and Cebu Kiwanis Club International Inc.
The late Atty. Gervasio Lavilles, who authored Cebu Municipal Board Resolution 185 that requested the Senate and the House of Representatives to convert the Municipality of Cebu into a city, and Emeterio Leyson Supapo were given posthumous awards.