“I belonged to a street family,” confessed Police Executive Master Sergeant Egmedio “Bill” Felisan Jr. By that, Master Sgt. Felisan means that his family was among Cebu City’s street dwellers.
His father was a pier worker and a drunkard while his mother was an occasional vendor who played mahjong. He was mostly left to fend for himself, scrounging with other kids for leftover food in the carenderias around the port area.
He would also be with the kids who dove for coins some ship passengers threw coins to the water for the children to get them, who pilfered things to resell if there was an opportunity to do so, and who ran away from policemen when they came. This was his life until 1981, when the city’s police force conducted “Operation Fishnet.” Felisan was caught among the many “sea urchins” they were rounding up.
Felisan recalled there were a lot of them, perhaps more than 60, some of whom were brought back to their families while others, like him, were brought to the Community Scouts Youth Center. Operation Fishnet was a project of the Community Scouts Commission of the Cebu City government under Mayor Florentino Solon. In charge of the center were a couple, Teodoro and Teresita Ayag, both police officers.
Sgt. Teodoro Ayag was the center’s scoutmaster. The couple acted truly like good parents, counseling the children in their care, and encouraging them to go back to school. This changed Felisan’s concept of the police force as something to be feared. In the center, he found that they could be caring, comforting, understanding, encouraging, inspiring.
“What we did not experience in life was given to us at that center,” Felisan said. He was 13 then.
Encouraged to pursue his studies, he enrolled in Abellana National School. He was in fifth grade. When he reached second year high school, he was encouraged to take the education department’s placement test. He passed and was immediately a high school graduate.
He continued his studies at the Abellana College of Arts and Trades (which he said, no longer exists) as a Sal Fernandez scholar, taking up industrial technology, majoring in electronics.
In his second year, he took the police force entrance exam, passed, but deferred entering into the service until after his graduation from college.
He entered the police force in 1990. As a police enforcer, Felisan’s passion, his advocacy has been the rehabilitation of “children in conflict with the law” (CICL). He saw what good his being in the center was for him and for some others who also entered the police force or became teachers.
Felisan has earned several awards: Most Outstanding Cebu City Police (Kiwanis Club of Cebu) in 2008; Modern Days Hero (Unicef) in 2018; Champion for Youth Award (PYCC) in 2018; Golden Globe Award Agape (Sinag) in 2019; and Special Award Istorya ng Pag Asa (Vice President Leni Robredo) in 2019.
One award he treasures is “Most Outstanding PNP Model Family” (Napolcom and Department of the Interior and Local Government) in 2013. Today, he and his family are all active in the San Narciso parish in Consolacion, Cebu. Master Sgt. Felisan is chairman of the worship committee and vice president of the parish lectors; wife Myrna Mahusay (from Camotes) is coordinator of the Acolyte Parents Association; son Christian Bill is vice president of the Parish Youth Council and chairman of the Youth Vicariate, North District (from Consolacion to Carmen); daughter Christine Bill is children’s choir organizer and lector; and youngest child Christal Bill is psalmist. Christian can also be called upon to be a resource person in seminars for children in conflict with the law, along with his father.
Currently, Master Sgt. Felisan is chief clerk of the Community Affairs Development Unit of the Cebu City Police Office. He will be retiring from the police force when he turns 56, but he will not be retiring from his advocacy, for the rights of women and children, particularly CICL who, he said, should not “be treated as criminals but as victims of circumstance who still have hope if they reform.”