MANILA - An estimated 2.2 million Filipinos work across the globe by government estimates, remitting billions in cash and goods to their families back home.
Carla Dimalanta, a geophysicist, could have joined the diaspora of Filipino scientists who found greener pasture overseas. She received an offer to work in the United States, where she could be a permanent resident and earn a substantially larger salary.
But she chose to stay and "serve her people."
Dimalanta is the country's first female exploration geophysicist with a doctorate, which she acquired from the University of Tokyo in Japan. She is currently a professor in the University of the Philippines Diliman.
With her outstanding international publications and decades of service in the academe and community, Dimalanta was declared University Scientist in 2006. Aside from teaching, she also handles research and administrative tasks.
"I want to be remembered as someone who embodies the different roles a teacher has to play in today's world: a mentor who shapes students' minds and shares her knowledge to her colleagues; a researcher who contributes to the generation of new knowledge; and a public servant who uses geophysics as a tool to empower communities and solve pressing societal problems," she said.
10 OUTSTANDING FILIPINOS
Dimalanta is one of this year's 10 outstanding Filipinos recognized by the Metrobank Foundation Inc. Each awardee received P1 million in cash, a trophy, and a gold medallion.
Out of over 260 nominations, Metrobank Foundation Inc awarded four teachers, three soldiers, and three police officers. The final list underwent meticulous scrutiny from a distinguished panel headed by Senator Sonny Angara.
Aside from Dimalanta, the other teacher awardees were: Mary Jane Ramo of Tonggo Elementary School (Tudela, Misamis Occidental); Alma Janagap of Pavia National High School (Pavia, Iloilo); and Aimee Marie Gragasin of the Philippine Science High School-Cagayan Valley Campus (Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya).
The soldier awardees were Lt. Col. Francis Señoron (Philippine Army) of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City; Lt. Col. Thomas Ryan Seguin (Philippine Air Force) of the 5th Fighter Wing in Basa Air Base, Floridablanca, Pampanga; and Lt. Col. Danilo Facundo (Philippine Navy) of the Marine Corps Force Development Center, Philippine Marine Corps in Taguig City.
Police officers who received awards were SPO1 Aida Awitin of the Davao Occidental Police Provincial Office (Malita, Davao Occidental); Senior Insp. Dennis Ebsolo of the Villanueva Municipal Police Station (Villanueva, Misamis Oriental); and Senior Supt. Pascual Muñoz Jr. of the Philippine National Police Directorate for Logistics in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
In his speech, Angara commended the awardees for choosing to stay in the country to serve their people.
"We thank them for their work, for expressing their love and competence, for transcending the weaknesses of their respective systems, and for striving to make those systems better," he said.
Señoron, in response to Angara, looked back to his humble beginnings. Proudly and tearfully applauding in one corner of the auditorium were his mom, wife, and son.