Literary icon Ayala, photojournalist Lumawag among 7 Datu Bago awardees for 2020

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 April) – Photojournalist Rene B. Lumawag and literary icon Tita Lacambra-Ayala are among seven Dabawenyos chosen for the 2020 Datu Bago Awards, the highest honor the city confers on its constituents.

Both Lumawag and Ayala will be awarded posthumously.  Ayala died on January 9, 2019 at the age of 88; Lumawag on July 1 of the same year at the age of 74.  Ayala is awarded for Literature and Arts and Lumawag for Journalism.

The five other awardees are Susan P. Cariaga for Education, Arturo M. Milan and Leoncio P. Villa-Abrille for Business, Ruben Robillo for Medicine, and Andry K. Lim for Agriculture and Enviroment.

Courtesy of Datu Bago Awards

The announcement was made by Councilor Pilar Braga, chair of the Datu Bago Awardees Organization, Inc., on her Facebook page.  Braga said the virtual awarding rites with Mayor Sara Duterte will be held on April 23.

The citations for the awardees have not been made public. Braga sent MindaNews a copy of the nominees’ profiles.

Reports about Lumawag’s death from cancer described him as the photographer who documented Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s rise from OIC Vice Mayor of Davao City to President of the Philippines.

But Lumawag was much more than that. He did not only chronicle Duterte’s rise to power, he chronicled Davao and Mindanao history in photographs from the early 1980s.

Lumawag started his media career as a radio announcer at the University of Mindanao Broadcast Network (UMBN). Shortly before the EDSA People Power revolt that ousted the Marcos dictatorship, he worked as staff news photographer of Ang Peyodiko Dabaw which later became Sun.Star Davao. He also worked as photo editor of the Mindanao Times and contributed photographs to MindaNews and international wire agencies.

When Duterte became President, he joined the Presidential Photographers Division.

Ayala, described in the Datu Bago nominees’ profile as  “Mother of Davo Literature,” is  a multi-awarded poet, fictionist, multi-media artist and independent publisher.

Ayala was recognized by the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, and the Gawad ALagad ni Francisco Balagtas.  She published the Road Map Series to promote the work of writers and artists in Davao, and the Davao Harvest which is the country’s first literary anthology that featured regional writers.

Tita Lacambra-Ayala’s son, Joey, composer, songwriter, poet and a Palanca awardee her and her husband Jose,  received the Datu Bago award in 2000.

Cariaga spearheaded the establishment of the “College Education Behind Bars” program at the City Jail in Ma-a, in coordination with the University of Southeastern Philippines, and presently establishing an extension program at the Davao Prison and Penal Farm (formerly Davao Penal Colony) in Davao del Norte to provide quality college education to persons deprived of liberty . She is also active in helping people improve their quality of life in Barangay 7-A.

Robillo and his father set up the Calinan General Hospital to serve the medical needs of  the districts of Calinan and Marilog. The Datu Bago Awards describes im as active in community involvement in Lumad (Indigenous Peoples) communities through health and education, who also initiated various community services dealing with environmental protection.  He was “instrumental in accepting foreign students for practicum and training purposes in Davao City as he initiated linkages and affiliations with some Nursing schools in The Netherlands, resulting to an exchange program by sending several students and social workers to Holland for educational tour and exposure.”

Lim, according to the Datu Bago Awards, is a “passionate and authentic advocate for sustainable agriculture through natural and organic farming methods which are environment-friendly farming and even natural livestock growing.”  As a young man, he turned his back on his family’s business, initially working with the Lumads. He co-founded the Tribal Mission Philippines (later registered as Tribal Missioun Foundation International, Inc).

Milan, former President of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) is active in promoting Davao City as an investment and tourism destination. The Datu Bago Awards describes him as “a champion in small businesses and promoting entrepreneurship to alleviate poverty.”

As DCCCI President, he partnered with the City Government of Davao in helping build better infrastructure for the city and was instrumental in backing up the creation of the Davao City International Airport Authority which was signed into law by President Duterte on August 30, 2019.  Milan is involved in various community engagements as servant and volunteer in projects like Gawad Kalinga Davao, Our Lady of Victory Training Center, St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary and Medical Mission and Job Fair. He spearheaded the establishment of an emergency response center to help victims of recent disasters like the 2019 earthquakes in North Cotabato and Davao. The Center raised at least 1.4M pesos in cash and an estimated 1.5M donation in kind. They were able to conduct six relief distributions, assisting some 6,000 families

Villa-Abrille spearheaded the giving of land to the landless, an advocacy of the Cesario Villa-Abrille family. He made possible the transfer of informal settlers across the DCWD Matina and UM Matina to the property of the family in Biao, Guianga, Tugbok District as relocation site, at no cost to the settlers. He also donated lots for church sites, memorial lots to a religious order, construction of a parish convent and rehabilitation of a church. As the family estate’s administrator, he donated a school site and established the Don Cesario Villa-Abrille scholarship program. The Datu Bago Awards describes him as a supporter of health endeavors, “an advocate in the promotion of culture and international understanding and supported business, civic and other organizations in their initiatives particularly the JCI Senate and Rotary International through his active involvement in community services.”  (MindaNews)

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