Leon Caculitan may not stand out in a crowd with his plain-colored polo and pants, but his heart of gold will surely draw you to him.
Doc Leon, this year’s Natatanging Bayani, dedicates his time to do medical missions in the remote island of Palaui in Cagayan for free since 2014 and also encourages his medical students to join him. Since Palaui has very limited access to health care, Doc Leon, with the help of other doctors and volunteers, built a hospital in the island, according to his nominator, medical student, Marfelle David. Doc Leon’s impact has been largely felt as his medical missions have now spread across Cagayan and in parts of the Philippines.
Bayaning Pilipino Awards also recognized public school teacher Gary Mosquito as this year’s Bayaning Gurong Pilipino. Gary championed the fight against malnutrition in their school in Palo, Leyte via a “Gulayan sa Paaralan Program,” that addressed the problem on malnutrition by serving healthy meals to students. Through the project, the academic performance of students dramatically improved and completely eradicated malnutrition in their school.
Even abroad, Filipinos are shining examples of modern-day heroism.
OFW photographer Brando Yonaha was named as the Bayaning Pilipino Japan winner for his staunch efforts in organizing projects for the benefit of Filipinos in need. As a photographer, Brando and a team of photographers raised funds that were used to buy school supplies, build an e-library, and buy tricycles for the benefit of young people in Zamboanga Sibugay, which was just one of his distinguished projects.
Meanwhile, the Bayaning Pilipino sa North America award was given to Feed2Succeed, a non-profit organization founded by Filipino-American siblings Caroline and Carmina Raquel with their friend, Tiffany Sato. The organization, which stemmed from a feeding program experience the siblings had during a visit in the Philippines, has now sponsored 300 students and adopted 7 elementary schools and counting.
Heroism also knows no age, as proven by Bayaning Kabataan winner, Renny Boy Takyawan, whose determination to help his fellow tribe members in Saranggani gain access to education, was instrumental in the building of classrooms in their community.
A Bayaning Kabataan special citation was also given to youth advocate Mayrani Hassan of Zamboanga Sibugay for her assistance to fellow Filipinos during the siege of Marawi.
The Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Bayaning Pilipino Awards is an annual search for ordinary Filipinos who have done extraordinary deeds that was envisioned by the late “Kapitan” Eugenio “Geny” Lopez Jr. to give the Filipino people real-life Filipino superheroes they can look up to and emulate.