IN ONE of a virtual press conference, Norman Baloro just entered the video conference, ready to share his accomplishment in one of the programs he implemented that day. He joined the virtual meeting straight from his car, enumerating the number of urban poor beneficiaries who applied for the Eskwela Davao and Work For Davao programs of the Davao City Government. His day that time was obviously hectic but when he spoke, it was never without passion and conviction.
Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) commissioner Baloro is currently handling and implementing four big projects in the city -- the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tupad program, the High Priority Bus System (HPBS) under the city’s Social Development program, Work For Davao, and Eskwela Davao.
It was a huge task for him considering he is serving thousands of people for almost each of these projects but he does it with fervor because he is serving the urban poor -- the sector he was once a part of.
“My bias will always be to those who are considered deprived in life in terms of access to government services. I am always biased to those oppressed, poor, exploited, marginalized, and even discriminated against,” said Baloro, who used to live in the squatters area in Boulevard.
“I used to survive in the urban community. Nagapamaligya man kog ticket sa una, sweepstakes (I used to sell tickets for sweepstakes),” he said.
He was able to study and graduate in college with a degree in social work through scholarships from the government. He started serving those who have nothing in the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO).
The principles he formed from his struggles in life became his compass. His dedication catapulted him to a much bigger role which he willingly accepted, knowing he can help even more.
He became the CSWDO assistant head and was later appointed by then Davao City mayor now President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as a commissioner of the PCUP in January 2018.
He worked on his current projects hands-on tirelessly, inspired by his own beginnings.
“Kung tagaan lang gyud diay nimo og pantay nga opportunidad ang bawat isa, pantay nga makaeskwela, nga makaaccess kung unsa man ang kaayuhan nga mahatag sa gobyerno, dili gyud rason ang poverty para makab-ot nimo ang imong mga damgo sa kinabuhi (If you really give an equal opportunity for everyone to education and other government help, poverty will never be a hindrance to achieve your dreams in life),” he said.
Yet, he believes that people also create their own destiny. Borrowing the words of poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, he said, “The only person that you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”
“Dili siya reflection nga kung nahimong successful ang akong amigo, kung pareha ang among ginabuhat, pareha ang among pag paningkamot, pareha pud ang among maabtan (It doesn’t follow that if you do the same thing as your peers, you will reach the same goal),” he said.
Despite his success and fulfillment now with where he is, he still wanted to do more beyond any position.
“Ang akong gusto mahitabo muabot ang panahon nga pantay ug patas ang pag trato sa mga tao dili tungod kay naa silay position sa kinabuhi pero tungod usa sila ka tao nga naay inherent worth and dignity (I wanted that time will come that there is equal treatment for all whatever their social standing),” he said.
“Muabot ang panahon, wala nay tao nga wala naka-access sa serbisyo sa gobyerno. Wala nay bata nga wala nakakaon kay wala natagaan og ayuda o wala naka eskwela (I dreamed for the time to come that all people will be able to access the service of the government and no child will be left behind),” he added.
He admitted that there is no perfect world but he hoped his service with passion, dedication, and commitment will make it better for them.
Baloro gave back.