CITY OF SAN FERNANDO— He’s French. But when Jean Christophe Gaillard joins 10 Kapampangan in a room, there will be 11 of them.
Aside from speaking and writing the language fluently, the 37-year-old geographer has helped several coastal and Aeta villages in the province prepare for disasters through planning and a keen understanding of their culture and physical environment.
In his community engagements, people call him either “JC” or “Abe” (friend).
But he has been recognized as an “honorary Fernandino,” after a committee of private sector leaders chose him as a recipient of the Ten Outstanding Fernandino Awards (Tofa). The Tofa goes to individuals who have excelled in their fields to serve as models to youth in the city.
“Thank you so much,” Gaillard said in Kapampangan during the pre-awards night that was held before he, his Filipina wife and their son left for New Zealand where he works as associate professor at the University of Auckland.
The Tofa was also given to Abraham Gorospe, who has been helping young people and the Aeta through music ministry.
Cyberspace volunteer Alywn Balingit runs the www.facebook.com/CityofSanFernando without cost to the city government. At the height of floods during the habagat (southwest monsoon) last year, he connected victims to the disaster risk reduction and management council, helping save lives and hastening the delivery of emergency aid.
Aurora Catacutan has been working as a barangay health worker since 1975, giving services without asking for anything in return, pushing for respect of women’s rights to health services.
Prof. Jose Lapuz is an educator, doing lectures on political concerns and national hero Dr. Jose Rizal in universities here and abroad.
At 15, athlete Bryan Fontillas has competed in 51 karate tournaments, winning several gold medals and dreaming to be an Olympian someday.
Loliano Allas made the Pampanga Electric Cooperative 1 viable and its corporate social responsibility program attuned to the needs of communities.
Media mentorship is where Melanie Briones excels. Many of her former students work in national and regional TV networks. With fellow school paper advisers, she has sustained a training program for campus writers.
Elias Miranda invented wood-working machines used in Pampanga’s woodcraft industry. He has sent many students to college and allowed landless families to live on his lands.
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco has served various tasks in spreading the Catholic faith. His humility leads people closely to God, the Tofa organizers said. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon