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Coup plotter among 8 chosen model citizens by provincial gov’t

ARTISTICALLY designed booths by different municipalities of Quezon province showcase coconut products at Perez Park at the Capitol grounds in Lucena City. DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.

ARTISTICALLY designed booths by different municipalities of Quezon province showcase coconut products at Perez Park at the Capitol grounds in Lucena City. DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.

Only a few of the young people of Quezon province may have heard of the exploits and colorful life of Edgardo Abenina.

Abenina, a retired general, was a firebrand in his prime and was the highest-ranking military officer who founded the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa, also known as the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM), during the twilight years of Marcos dictatorship, which eventually fell after the peaceful Edsa Revolt in February 1986.

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But RAM, which also included among its ranks now Sen. Gringo Honasan, also staged a series of unsuccessful coup attempts to overthrow the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino.

Abenina was detained for five years and four months in Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo and escaped twice during incarceration. He spent 14 months in solitary isolation after his recapture on Jan. 30, 1990. He was released from detention on Dec. 24, 1992, and ran for senator but lost.

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Now 80 years old, Abenina is no longer known as a coup plotter. He has turned, in his words, into a “gentleman farmer” in his native town of Tiaong, and he is well-regarded as a security expert by many who had hired him as consultant.

Abenina, a 1958 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, is one of this year’s eight recipients of the Quezon Medalya ng Karangalan (QMK), an award bestowed by the provincial government to model citizens. “I’m very, very happy,” he said in a phone interview.

Controversial awardees

The provincial government has been giving the QMK awards since 1970 to outstanding citizens for their achievements and contributions to the welfare and development of the province.

This year’s other awardees are controversial—lawyer

Vitaliano N. Aquirre II; Dr. Doracie Zoleta-Nantes, an educator and expert in environmental hazards and disaster management; educators

Gloria L. Ching, Maria Adeline A. Lee, Juanito A. Merle, Adelia R. Roadilla; and social welfare officer Sonia Leyson.

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They were chosen among more than 20 nominees, said Vicente Joyas, head of the awards committee.

Despite the controversies in which some of them were involved in the past, Gov. David Suarez said the QMK awardees had inspired the youth of the province. In the case of Abenina, the panel of judges looked into the idealism he espoused rather than the role he played in several coup attempts.

Aquirre II, 69, a native of Mulanay town, first made a headline as the spunky lead counsel of Hubert Webb, son of former Sen. Freddie Webb, in the celebrated Vizconde murder-rape case.

During the nationally televised Senate trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012, Aguirre earned the ire of feisty Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago when he cupped his ears with his hands to avoid listening to her tirade against his panel of prosecution lawyers. Though he was eventually cited in contempt, he remained firm in his conviction that lawyers deserved dignity and respect from judges.

 

Educator awardees

An awardee in the field of science and technology is Nantes, 55, a professor of Human Ecology and Geography and a native of Lucban town. She is the present president of Aurora State College of Technology in Baler, Aurora province.

Her studies and research on environmental studies and disaster risk reduction have earned her national and international recognition.

Ching, 68, who was cited for education-school governance, hails from Pitogo town, where she also received a tribute as model citizen in 2012. She rose from the ranks of a classroom teacher to assistant school division superintendent in Quezon up to her retirement several years ago.

An awardee for education-school administration, Lee, 69, an administrator of a Catholic school in Lopez town, has long been known for her generosity in providing college scholarship to students.

“At least four of her previous scholars are now priests. Some are teachers, engineers, accountants and some are business owners,” said Lopez Mayor Isaias Ubana II, who nominated her, being one of the town’s outstanding citizens in the field of education.

Leyson, the awardee for government service, heads the provincial social welfare and development office. She earned many citations from several national organizations and local government units for her devotion to duty as a state social worker, particularly during times of calamities.

On June 18, 2015, she was given a “special citation” by the Professional Regulation Commission as its 2015 Outstanding Professional of the Year.

Merle, an awardee for education and research-based instruction, 50, a native of Pagbilao town, was one of Metrobank Outstanding Teachers in 2014.

“He (Merle) believes that every individual has a right to education and sees the need to make illiterates literate,” said Dr.

Enriqueta Alcoreza, president of Sacred Heart College-Lucena (SHC) Alumni Association, who nominated him. He described Merle as a “man who cares and who sees the worth of every person.”

Alcoreza said Merle, aside from being a part-time teacher at SHC graduate school also finds time to teach out-of-school youths at Hermana Fausta Development Center, the SHC community service arm.

Roadilla, school administration awardee, 48, a native of Mulanay, is the director of Polytechnic University of the Philippines for its two units in General Luna and Mulanay in the Bondoc Peninsula area. Her works inside and outside of the campuses have been recognized as an important impetus of growth and development in the peninsula district.

 

‘Special citation’

Levita Ronna G. Ilao, a bemedaled taekwondo fighter from Sariaya town, was given a “special citation” for carrying the country’s colors in international competitions.

“We have a bumper crop of educator awardees this year—a fitting tribute to their noble contribution to our society,” said Lucena Bishop Emilio

Marquez, vice chair of the awards committee.

The awards were given yesterday to coincide with the 137th birth anniversary of the late President Manuel L. Quezon.

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