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Five outstanding citizens to be feted on Baguio Day

OUTSTANDING CITIZENS. Dr. Elizabeth Jaravata-Batino and lawyer Dexter Diwas will be cited for their works in their respective fields on Baguio Day on September 1, while Fernando Tiong for business and Maria Victoria Bugasto and dentist Alberto Atiwag, Jr. for community service. SOCOB collage photos

Five persons are this year’s outstanding citizens two for community service, two for professional service and one for business.

A doctor, a dentist, a lawyer, a businessman and a cancer survivor who advocates breast cancer awareness are the five outstanding citizens for this year, the Society of Outstanding Citizens of Baguio (SOCOB) announced this week.

Dr. Elizabeth Jaravata-Batino and lawyer Dexter Diwas will be cited for their works in their respective fields while Fernando Tiong for business and Maria Victoria Bugasto and Alberto Atiwag, Jr. for community service on Baguio Day on September 1.

Celebration will be toned down as programs including the awarding ceremony will be done virtually due to the threat of Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus.

“There will be no gatherings,” mayor Benjamin Magalong said earlier as he and his team buckles down for possible intervention against the deadlier and more contagious iteration of the Covid-19 virus.

Bugasto is a stage 4 cancer survivor who since 2006 has been advocating breast cancer awareness. The founder of the support group Minda’s Bubble, she has been active not just in helping cancer patients but help raise funds for their treatment and funeral service despite the pain she suffers from the disease.

Batino is the head of the women and children protection at Baguio General Hospital General Hospital and Medical Center, who under her watch, saw the hospital put up a women and children protection training center, the first in Luzon.

An OB-Gyne and a graduate of nursing, the SOCOB cited Batino for introducing “innovations such as a multi-disciplinary team approach in the management of cases of abuse and violence and the processing of pieces of evidence, giving much importance to the chain of custody.”

A 2020 semifinalist of the Civil Service Commission’s Dangal ng Bayan Award, she is the first Filipino woman doctor to earn a degree in BS Forensic Science.

On the other hand, Diwas has been working closely with people deprived of liberty and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in preparation for the eventual release of said people and return to society. The former Public Attorney’s Office lawyer is known to impart legal wellness and preventive lawyering.

Tiong is the owner of several successful businesses in the city that contribute to the economy and provide hundreds of jobs to Baguio people.

Atiwag, a dentist, is commended for his dental outreaches which started even while in college. The SOCOB in shortlisting and his eventual inclusion among the five honorees has continued to volunteer his services in medical and dental missions not just in Baguio but elsewhere.

Since 1975, there have been 577 documented awardees who were honored on Baguio Day except in 2009, when the SOCOB gave way to the Builders of Baguio awards, and last year during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Secretariat head Patti Gallardo said that in its earlier years, it was government officials led by the mayor who confer the award to outstanding graduates, policemen, firemen, athletes and exceptional men and women in various professions and occupations who either excelled in their endeavors, put Baguio City on the regional, national or international map, or caught the attention of the City Council and the public.

However, in recent years, Gallardo said that “the search has become more stringent and more discerning, with nominees undergoing background checks, rigorous screening and panel interviews before a Board of Judges.”

The SOCOB was formally established in 2006 under the leadership of former University of Baguio president Dr. Reynaldo Bautista, Sr., an outstanding citizen awardee himself, along with Dr. Charles Cheng, Peter Ng, media personality Arthur Tibaldo, car racer and restaurateur Carlos Anton, former Baguio Water District chairman Felino Lagman and former councilor and lawyer Edilberto Tenefrancia.

Former Baguio City High School principal Elma Donaal is now SOCOB president.

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