AT A very young age, Romeo Montenegro has always been inclined toward the communication arts, from public speaking to being an editor-in-chief of the school paper during high school and college.

Currently, he is the director for investment promotions and public affairs of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda). He is a familiar and sought-after figure when it comes to updates in Mindanao development.

Some of you might think that he is a graduate of a communications or public affairs-related course but no, he is actually a registered nurse, a graduate of Davao Doctors College.

"Taking up a nursing course was not my personal decision but it was sort of influenced by my mother," he said.

Montenegro said during those times, nursing was really in demand and a lucrative career.

Right after college, he volunteered at the Davao Doctors Hospital at the same took up loads in Masters in Public Administration but did not finish it.

Being inclined toward communicating peace and development in Mindanao, in 1997, he became a research assistant for the Growth with Equity (Gem) in Mindanao Program of the US Agency for International Development.

Five months later, he transferred to the public affairs division of the Office of the President-Mindanao doing press releases and speeches up until the end of former President Fidel V. Ramos' term in 1998.

He then returned to the Gem Program, this time doing communications work up until 2001 wherein he transferred to the then Mindanao Economic Development Council, which is now Minda.

In 2007, he became head of the public affairs for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and became the chief of staff of Office of Press Secretary Jesus G. Dureza the following year. In 2010, he returned to Minda and in 2012 he became the director for investment promotions and public affairs of Minda.

Montenegro veered off from the course that he graduated as he believes that while being a nurse can be financially rewarding especially for those who find good jobs abroad, it just doesn’t hold the sense of fulfillment he gets from communicating development. He made this realization after a two-month vacation in the United States a few years ago.

"My career and future is here in Mindanao. Even if I don't have to earn the same salary I would have been earning as a nurse in the US, I felt that my sense of fulfillment is derived not on that aspect but it is derived on the meaning I can give to myself, work, and what purpose I can gain and achieve working for Mindanao," Montenegro said.

Being a public servant, Montenegro has always been seen being passionate in doing something for Mindanao.

On the aspect of juggling time between family and work, he said it is a bit of a challenge especially for career people like him.

"You have to really master the art to juggle time and setting your priorities," he said.

Montenegro believes there are still a lot he can improve on in mastering his craft.

"I am also looking forward to teach," he said, along with pursuing higher studies.

He is also open to opportunities that will come to him in the future.

Montenegro hails from Nabunturan but was born in Davao City. He has a Master's degree on Public Administration from Ateneo de Davao University and completed the Peace Journalism course at the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies-University of Sydney, Australia, through a scholarship grant from the Australian Agency for International Development.

He is married to the former Venus Alcomendras and has a six-year-old son, Juan Carlos.