In celebration of its 81st founding anniversary, the Quezon City government named the city’s community heroes for its Manuel L. Quezon 18th Gawad Parangal Award.

The awardees, both individuals and organizations or groups, are selected on the basis of their active involvement in helping the city government carry out the assistance of any form to the community during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We share the success of our COVID-19 response to those who have been helping us in providing support and assistance to our residents. These awardees have been exemplary as they stood out among their peers to become heroes of their communities,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said.

“What matters to the heroes we are honoring today is that every life is worth saving. Ang iba sa kanila, patuloy na itinataya ang buhay araw-araw. Mas nanaig sa kanila ang kagustuhang makatulong sa kanilang komunidad,” Belmonte added.

Among the individual awardees are Jay Angelo Pineda who is the Chieftain of a technology start-up Whiz Philippines Innovations. He initiated an online challenge called #SalamatFrontliners to give back to the country’s frontliners.

Kingspoint Homeowners Association Inc. President Lamberto Nolasco was also recognized for his efforts to transform vacant lots in their subdivision to encourage the poor and the jobless to plant their own vegetables. He also initiated distribution of food packs to nearby subdivisions, disinfection of churches, roads, and open spaces, and provision of assistance to tricycle drivers, and senior citizens.

Three doctors were also recognized as community heroes. Dr. Esperanza Anita Arias, officer-in-charge of the Quezon City Health Department was regarded for her active service as one of the city’s incident commanders. She also formulated the guidelines on testing, barangay contact tracing, among others, and led the direct coordination with government and non-government organizations for additional resources for the city.

Dr. Susan Jane Celo, a medical officer at the Quezon City Health Department spearheaded the city’s efforts in setting up community-based testing sites, coordination with various stakeholders, and active monitoring and follow-up of patients.

East Avenue Medical Center Sikap Bata Foundation Founder Dr. Hilario John Mangoba is a dedicated pediatrician serving the poorest of the poor patients to at least five hospitals in Quezon City. He is recognized as one of the medical frontliners who went beyond his scope of work to save the lives of others.

Unfortunately, both Dr. Celo and Dr. Mangoba succumbed to the infectious disease.

Meanwhile, five organizations were also among the roster for Gawad Parangal awardees. Bantay Bayan Foundation Inc. Culiat Chapter started conducting roving operations and neighborhood-watch activities in March. They assisted their barangay in implementing curfew hours, distribution of financial assistance from the national and local governments, and the distribution of food packs during the lockdown period.

Triskelion Riders of Quezon City distributed grocery items, initiated a blood-letting program, and extended assistance to jeepney drivers.

The Kingspoint Homeowners Association was also recognized for assisting senior citizens in the 25 neighborhoods of their community in order to avail the city government’s financial assistance. They also extended food packs to 150 poor families.

Due to the limitations caused by the pandemic, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines – Quezon City Chapter put up a legal aid clinic for legal advice and legal representation in courts to cater to indigent litigants of Quezon City. They also established a hotline for anti-discrimination for frontliners in partnership with the Philippine National Police. IBP-QC also donated various items such as thermo-scanners, disinfectants, facemasks, gloves, vitamins, among others to hospitals and institutions.

The last organization to be awarded was the Metro Manila Persons with Disability Vendors Association, Inc. which spearheaded the “Relentless for Persons with Disability Relief Project” which helped extend relief goods to 500 persons with disabilities in 10 barangays in Quezon City.

Miss Universe Philippines 2nd Runner-up Michele Theresa Imperial Gumabao was given a special award for starting the Your200Pesos organization under the Hunger No More Foundation as a direct response to the pandemic. Through her organization, more than 6000 families received the Your200Pesos eco pack of basic necessities. More than 5000 frontliners also received meal packs through her partnership with the Rektang Bayanihan program of PNP and other organizations such as FILHINDI, and PLDT-SMART Foundation.