ONE of the highlights of the annual Araw ng Dabaw is the awarding of individuals who embody the characters of Davao City’s local hero, Datu Bago.
For the past 49 years, the city, through the Datu Bago Awardees Organization, Inc. (DBAOI), has conducted an annual search and awarded individuals who are or were (posthumous) living exemplary lives, contributing selflessly to the growth and development of Davao City.
This year’s Datu Bago awards went to five recipients, namely, Koronado B. Apuzen, Ines P. Mallari, Rodolfo M. Mande, Mary Ann M. Montemayor, and Antonio B. Partoza Jr.
The awarding ceremonies were held last March 8, 2019 at Arcadia Event Center in Escandor Street, Quimpo Boulevard, Davao City.
Koronado B. Apuzen
He helped the banana industry, indigenous farmers, and various farmers’ cooperative, among his other community services.
He cited particularly helping the indigenous farmers gain livelihood by strongly lobbying for markets of organic farm produce, mainly for the Barangay Sibulan farmers.
“Particularly we work with Bagobo-Tabawa tribe in Sibulan. The barangay council there and tribal council invited us to help the farmers grow organic banana and that’s what we did. And since 2005, we have been exporting banana. It’s the only highland banana in Japanese market. And among the very important contributions we made is that we made Barangay Sibulan the first organic agriculture zone in Davao City, and in Mindanao as well,” he said.
Apuzen is a lawyer and a farmer. He uses the law to serve those who are less in life especially the indigenous farmers.
Ines P. Mallari
She could have been living a much grander life had she gone to Japan and lived and worked there as she is a Nikkei Jin or Japanese descendant. But she chose to stay to serve her fellow Davaoeños. Her greatest contribution was being the bridge between the Philippines and Japan.
Her works never went unnoticed as prior to being nominated in Datu Bago Awards 2019, her contributions for the war-displaced Japanese descendants were recognized by none other than Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in year 2016, and by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie in the following year.
“I also want to help continue what was established by our forefathers in Davao. Most importantly, I want to become a living bridge that will help connect the two countries and conduct activities to strengthen the friendly relationship between Japan and Philippines,” she said in a previous interview.
Rodolfo M. Mande
He was recognized for continuously promoting his indigenous culture and making sure that his tribe is recognized, well-represented and included in the city’s economic, political and social plans and activities.
Part of the award’s citation read, “He has used his degree in education to promote literacy in the remotest Matigsalog villages and is considered one of the pioneer teachers of the Foundation Learning for Indigenous Children of The Tribal Mission Foundation International.”
His biggest contribution is leading and organizing projects for Matigsalogs and Manobo peoples for the benefit of their clan.
Mary Ann M. Montemayor
She is one of the most decorated women not just in Davao City but in the Philippines as well, as an entrepreneur and a civic leader. Active is just a lame word to describe her when it comes to tourism, as promoting tourism for Davao City not just in the Philippines but to the world is one of her passions.
Her Datu Bago Award citation reads, “She is recognized for raising the level of awareness and appreciation of Davao’s capacity to hold important national and international events as well as promoting Davao as globally competitive destination for tourism and investment.”
Montemayor is also the country’s honorary consul of Hungary. She paved the way for forging stronger ties between the Philippines and Hungary, and even helped promote Davao City to Europe.
Her being a successful entrepreneur helps promote the indigenous culture, crafts, and arts to the world by showcasing them through every way she can.
Antonio B. Partoza Jr.
The man behind the Partoza Durian Farm and the Balay Pasilungan, a privately-funded shelter for homeless, street children of Davao City.
For him, his greatest contribution to Dabawenyos is his being one of the pillars of the Mindanao Fruit Industry Development Council (MFIDC).
“Our (MFIDC) collaboration with the Growth with Equity in Mindanao (GEM), for 12 years we conduct seminars, conferences for the fruit farmers all over Mindanao; This is a twice-a-year activity, one is a conference for technology transfer and the other one is market matching. We make the farmers, processors and importers meet,” he relayed, paving the way for fruit farmers to gain sustainable livelihood.
He is also one of the lobbyists for a durian industry in Davao City, organizing, along with few other individuals, the Davao Durian Industry in the 1980s.
Partoza is originally from Laguna, but a Dabawenyo by choice and by heart. His Datu Bago Award citation partly read, “He is an example of an immigrant who has fully embraced and embodied what it means to be a Dabawenyo.”