On July 12, Valenzuela City marks the 152nd Birth Anniversary of its very own nation’s hero with a series of activities honoring the legacy of Dr. Pio Valenzuela. This year’s theme is “Kabayanihan, Kalinga, Kahandaan”.
The day started with the customary wreath-laying at the Triumvirate Monument located at the City Government Complex. The ceremony was led by City Mayor REX Gatchalian, Vice Mayor Lorena Natividad-Borja, and Dr. Valenzuela’s great-granddaughter and representative of the Valenzuela clan, Ms. Tricia Tensuan.
Another highlight of the morning’s celebration is the awarding of the Gawad Dr. Pio Valenzuela at The City Hall Atrium. The said accolade is the highest and most prestigious award given by the Valenzuela City Government to its most exceptional citizens in acknowledgment of and appreciation for their excellence and service in their respective fields. Gawad Dr. Pio Valenzuela is an annual award spearheaded by the City Cultural and Tourism Development Office (CATDO).
The roster of winners was carefully chosen from among the nominees by the 14-man Gawad Dr. Pio Valenzuela Search Committee chaired by Bishop Bartolome G. Santos, Jr. of Iba, Zambales. The awardees are:
- Kathlynne Anne “Kharen” Abat-Senen of Barangay Gen. T. de Leon (Posthumous Award in Government Service), neonatologist and infectious diseases doctor at the Valenzuela Medical Center and Philippine General Hospital
- Aldrin A. Darilag of Barangay Polo (Education), Commission on Higher Education Commissioner and Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Board of Regents of 23 State Universities and Colleges all over the country
- Remigio L. Alvarez of Barangay Bisig (Entrepreneurship), owner of La Casa Antigo Resort, La Casa Antigo Pavilion, and Alvarez Park Café in Barangay Tagalag
- Eimee Rhea C. Lagrama of Barangay Parada (Professions), Deputy University Librarian and Head of the University Archives of the University of the Philippines in Diliman
- Marius R. Talampas of Barangay Marulas (Film), commercial and film director
- Mark Angelo A. dela Cruz of Barangay Malanday (Youth Leadership), Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairman and Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish Commission on Youth Coordinator
- Delfin F. Gutierrez Jr. of Barangay Malanday (Cultural Heritage), fourth-generation maker of putong polo and owner of Mang Delfin’s Putong Polo.
Dr. Jerome Senen accepted the award on behalf of his late wife, Dr. Kharen Senen, who passed away last year due to COVID-19.
In his speech he said, “Ang parangal na ito ay masasabing tinatanggap ko na may halong pait at kasayahan – pait dahil wala na si Kharen sa piling natin, ngunit may kasayahan din dahil sa mga parangal na tulad nito ay nananatiling buhay ang alaala niya at ang mga sakripisyong kanyang ginawa”.
Dr. Senen recalled how Dr. Kharen selflessly and bravely went about performing her duties despite the danger of contracting COVID-19. According to him, her goal was to cure her patients and be able to successfully send them home. He also hopes that Dr. Kharen’s sacrifices would serve as a lesson to all, especially the next generation, “…Kailangan natin lahat ng dedikasyon sa lahat ng ating mga ginagawa, maski na gaano ito kaliit sa pananaw ng iba. Tapang at pananampalataya ang kailangan natin ngayong panahon ng pandemya. Tandaan natin ang mga sinabi ni Kharen: ‘Kung hindi tayo, sino? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan? And always keep the faith,” he further reminded the youth.
Gawad Dr. Pio awardee Mark dela Cruz, who believes that the youth is still the hope of the nation, addressed them in his speech, “Mga kapwa ko kabataan, maging sigla at saya nawa muli tayo ng ating lipunan, maging kaisa tayo sa pagbabago na ating nais makamit, maging instrumento tayo ng pag-asa at paglilingkod sa ating kapwa, maging huwaran tayo ng kahusayan at kabutihan sa mas nakababata at maging mabuti tayong anak sa ating tahanan, sa ating Inang Bayan”.
Speaking for the Valenzuela clan, Ms. Tensuan thanked the City Government for its numerous projects honoring the life and legacy of her great-grandfather. She likewise lauded its efforts to turn Valenzuela into one of Metro Manila’s premier cities. In closing, Ms. Tensuan urged the Valenzuelanos to follow the examples set by their heroes and to support their local government.
Congratulating the Gawad Dr. Pio awardees, Mayor REX also pointed out that they are also role models to Valenzuelanos, “Kayo ang kumakatawan hindi lang sa lungsod, kung hindi sa legacy ng ating local hero na si Dr. Pio Valenzuela. Importante na matandaan natin na kayo ay magiging inspirasyon ng bawat Valenzuelano na patuloy na magpunyagi, [at] patuloy na magtrabaho para makabuo tayo ng isang siyudad na kaaaya-aya na yumayakap sa bawat mamamayan ng Valenzuela City — isang siyudad na hindi lang liveable at sustainable, kung hindi inklusibo sa lahat.”
Mayor REX excitedly bared that this is the last year that Dr. Pio’s birthday will be celebrated at the City Hall as construction work has begun to renovate the hero’s old stone house in Barangay Polo.
July 12 also marks the different Dr. Pio Birthday Activities starting off with the Gawad Dr. Pio awarding.
To watch the awarding ceremonies, visit https://fb.watch/v/1VaLF5pkR/.