The Finalists of the 5th RAFI Triennial Awards – Today’s Unknown Heroes

Today’s unknown heroes (who selflessly dedicated themselves for the betterment of our community and our less fortunate brothers and sisters) are not the typical sword-wielding katipuneros nor the ones we see in the class of the over-publicized politicians and company CEOs. Today’s unknown and un-named heroes are ordinary individuals who do extraordinary things without any expectations of rewards and fame.

The rich and the famous who build foundations and charitable institutions are called philanthropists, but the poor and unknown people who make use of everything they have to help the needy and influence leaders and policy makers to constitute change have never been tagged with anything. Today’s unknown heroes are are at par (or even better) with those famous philanthropists who are commonly featured on the front page of magazines and in big talk shows on TV. Today’s unknown heroes are the brave individuals who went through hardships and sacrifices for the good and betterment of their communities despite undergoing personal hardships themselves.

Last June 15, 2011, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) presented the top five finalists per category of the 5th RAFI Triennial Awards for Visayas and Mindanao in a public forum at the Eduardo Aboitiz Development Studies Center.

Below are the 5th RAFI Triennial Awards Finalists with their work, advocacies, and contribution to the community. Presenting today’s unknown heroes for the Ramon Aboitiz Award for Exemplary Individual.

The 5 finalists of the 5th RAFI Triennial Awards during the Public Forum last June 15, 2011

  • Mr. Apolinario Leyson, Sr. – At the age of 6, Leyson was left alone in Carbon, Cebu City to take care of himself. Often referred to as “bugoy”, “askal”, and other street names, young Apolinario earned money for his survival by engaging in several jobs like shoe shining, dishwashing, being a “kargador”, and selling fruits and vegetables, among others. He described himself as a young rascal. But even if he needed to work while studying, he managed to finish his elementary and secondary education with flying colors. His passion for scouting – not minding the low allowance, high risks, and intense demands of job – gained him several awards and distinctions. Read more about Tatay Apolinario here.
  • Fr. Dennis Tamayo – One of his most challenging types of development work is that which requires to deal with indigenous people like the Baja. Helping those groups requires more than just having the right skill and enough resources to sustain the project. In a place like Basilan where kidnap for ransom is the most lucrative way of life, it requires a special character or an unconventional mindset to choose it as your place of assignment. This is most particular, especially for those who have the option on what to do and where to do it, like Fr. Dennis Tamayo, CMF. Read more about Fr. Dennis here.
  • Prof. Estrella Cantallopez – She saw massive deaths, regular displacements of communities, and the unthinkable damage of various levels and the hurts of different communities because of armed confrontations. She is by far known by in NDU as someone who has established contacts and gained respect from three warring parties: military, MNLF and MILF. Read more about Prof. Estrella here.
  • Mr. Rene Vendiola – He is a high school drop-out and is considered as a local dendrologist and parataxonomist by many environmentalist in Negros island. He used to be a hunter and a slash and burn farmer but at a certain point in his life, has been transformed into one of the Negros Island’s leading and respected environmentalist. His efforts in environmental protection, promotion and conservation have influenced policy makers and local chief executives in the town of Bacong and the Province of Negros Oriental, particularly the former Vice Gov. Of the Province to adopt environmental conservation efforts. Read more about Mr. Vendiola here.
  • Fr. Angel Buenavides – Aside from being a Catholic priest who is very active in evangelical works, Father Angelo “Angel” Ruyeras Buenavides is contributing a lot to society. He has provided some MNLF ex-combatants access to decent peaceful living and livelihood, advocating peace and environment conservation, organized and empowered the youth, mobilized resources for relief assistance to the displaced communities, and was able to implement the Integrated Rehabilitation Project for IDPs in Barangay Gasi, Kiamba Saranggani Province funded by UNDP Stride Mindanao. His ability to make people converge for volunteer works/regardless of religion, sex, and sector has helped him realize his own definition of peace (in Mindanao) that is “food on the table”. Read more about Fr. Angel here.

About RAFI Triennial Awards

The RAFI Triennial Awards aims to provide a platform in recognizing individuals and institutions who are instrumental in leading change in their respective communities. Established in 1996, the awards honor the men and women who, through their efforts to bring about change and improve the lives of the less-privileged, reflect the humanitarian and holistic ideals of RAFI founders, Don Ramon Aboitiz and Don Eduardo Aboitiz.

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