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‘My God is mightier than COVID’

POLIO-STRICKEN Jay Argana Espeleta has been awarded twice as an Outstanding Employee in 2019, (runner-up), and 2020 as the outstanding employee of the year.

At age 5, Jay, a native of Muntinlupa, was afflicted with polio, which severely deformed his left leg and left foot. Although he underwent a successful surgical operation, he continued to suffer severe pain. Worse, Jay suffered from bullying because of the way he walks, moves and talks. He became self-conscious and initially indulged in self-pity. He imagined people staring at him while he awkwardly walked on streets and hallways and while he rode jeepneys.

But Jay overcame these challenges. Quitting medical school, he started to work in the city government of Muntinlupa in 2000 as a medical assistant. He just applied himself to his work. No job was too difficult for Jay and eventually he was loved and cheered by colleagues because he was always ready to lend a helping hand.

He became active in community activities. He excelled in other NGO works, was elected as president of the Philippine Society of Medical Laboratories Scientists Inc., Muntinlupa City-Las Piñas and Parañaque; Board of Director of National Capital Region Medical Technologists; Coordinator of the Muntinlupa Reproductive Health and Wellness Center. Last May 2019, he represented Muntinlupa City in an international biosafety course. Would you believe it, he even became a sought after trainer and coach of the men’s volleyball and basketball teams in Muntinlupa!

When the global pandemic hit, Jay was assigned at the City Health Office swab center. On average, Espeleta interfaces with around 100 patients per day in the local swabbing center and in the barangays.

Jay set aside his initial concern of being afflicted by COVID on top of his present physical disability. “Mahal ako ng Diyos. May polio na nga ko, eh maco-COVID pa?,” He steeled himself: “Mas malakas ang bakuna ko. Si Lord ang shield ko”.

So day in and day out, he reported for work. Last February, his father passed away just as COVID-19 was starting to spread in the country. Three months later, his mother also died when the targeted mass testing efforts of the city, which he supervises, was at its peak. He didn’t have the time to properly mourn his parents as he chose to attend to strangers during the pandemic.

Recently, he was again nominated by his boss, Dr. Teresa Tuliao as an extraordinary employee with his dedication and sincerity as a Health Hero beating COVID-19. This time, Jay was adjudged the Most Outstanding Employee in 2020, by the PRAISE Committee headed by City Administrator Engr. Allan A. Cachuela.

Alam ng Diyos ang takot at hirap ko, kaya binigyan niya ko ng blessing na ito.” It was indeed another blessing and recognition for Jay that he won the Most Outstanding Employee in 2020, after facing the PRAISE Committee led by City Administrator Engr. Allan A. Cachuela, and other judges from different sectors.

With Jay, the other 2020 winners were Freddie Batario

(Cooperative Office), Sharyln Dulay (Mayor’s Office), and Adonis P. Adornado (Colegio de Muntinlupa) (Runner-up)

In accepting his award, Jay thanked Mayor Jaime R. Fresnedi, City Administrator Engr. Allan Cachuela, Atty Erick Tagnia, Dr. Teresa Tuliao, Dr. Juancho Bunyi, Maam Malu and Kapitan Allen Ampaya, his mentor and supporter Tez Navarro, councilors, family, friends, and above all “God, who is Mightier than COVID”.

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