Top Baguio citizens honored


BAGUIO CITY – Four outstanding Baguio citizens was honored during the traditional program of the 110th Baguio Day celebration at the Baguio Convention Center.

The cream of the crop, two awardees for professional and two for community service was trimmed down from ten nominees through the screening and selection committees of the Society of Outstanding Citizens of Baguio (SOCOB) headed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong as chair and Elma Donaal, vice chair.

One of the professional service awardees is Baguio Water District (BWD) General Manager Salvador Royeca who was employed in the 80s as audit inspector while being a civil engineering student.

Completing a civil, environment, sanitary engineering and master’s degrees paved the way for Royeca to be a division manager, a department manager and later as the assistant general manager for technical operations. He became BWD general manager in 2013 and immediately implemented reforms to address the city’s perennial water shortage problem.

Under his able leadership, the two-hectare Mt. Sto. Tomas rain catchment basin was completed, and a modern BWD building was put up to better serve clients. Other water supply development projects done are the Busol rainwater harvesting facilities construction, the bulk water supply project, well-drilling initiatives, watershed perimeter fencing, recharge ditches construction, elimination of illegal connections, promotion of the adopt-a-watershed program and tree-planting activities, among others.

With support and proper coordination, the water district’s safety plan was issued an acceptance certificate, Best Regional Training Center award and Department of Health (DOH)-accredited laboratory in 2018 by the DOH; and the Lingkod-Tubig Award for Best Corporate Social Responsibility Programs this year.

Awardee for community service Mr. Alberto Guinguino, awardee serves as a volunteer for environmental, public-social service, education, religious and other sectors.

As former seminarian- turned teacher, Guinguino devotes resources for information and socio-civil intents, and through the community extension and outreach programs office including his being National Service Training Program (NSTP) coordinator, integrates instruction and mobilizes students and community for sustained involvement.

As a volunteer radio broadcaster, his airtime is devoted to community-relevant concerns; indigenous peoples and culture, academe, farming, fishing, mining, religion and other matters brought to his attention.

As an environmental advocate, he was involved in the reforestation of the Buyog watershed, Forbes Park and parks all over the city. He lobbied for the passage of the Environment Code and mobilized the cleaning of graffiti vandalized walls and structures.

He is an active member of the regional and municipal police advisory councils, involved in organization of blood donation drive, lectures on diseases and anti-smoking advocacies, and heads fund raising campaigns, and at times works out and works out scholarship programs for the marginalized and through engages the youth in social work.

Guinguino immerses himself in other community programs through linkages and collaborations with various affiliations, sectors, institutions, agencies often with the use of his own resources.

Professional Service awardee Raquel Fausto Versoza is a Manila-born lass; a statuesque airline stewardess for several years before settling down with Ari Versoza, and managing Forest house bistro and cafe, here in the city.

She ran the bistro-café which eventually became a bed and breakfast accommodation, is an accredited skills trainor and assessor, has acquired a master’s degree with Latin honors, authored several books, writes a business magazine column and taught in two local colleges where she was ranked outstanding.

She also raised five children Chelsea, Kahlil, Keanu, Yuri and eldest daughter beauty queen Kylie, crowned Miss International in 2016. As a family they advocate mental health awareness, with Raquel as mental health campaign caregiver-speaker. They reach out to carers or family members who struggle with mental disorder, and the stigma which may push one to the brink of suicide. Each life is precious, Raquel advocates.

Versoza oversees her business for at least 40 staff members, undergoes methodology trainings with service providers including the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA). A trainor and assessor for skilled employees in the hospitality industry, she is instrumental in the training and assessment of students who pursue awards of national certificates (NC) which ensures employability here and abroad.

She is also a speaker and mentor/coach in tourism and Go Negosyo entrepreneurship programs in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) providing training to small and medium enterprise business owners, or potential business owners.

Baguio-born Physician Ma. Socorro Florendo Sarfati is one of this year’s professional awardees.

A gifted student, she graduated as Magna Cum Laude Biology major at the University of the Philippines College Baguio afterwhich she pursued medical school at UP Manila.
After hurdling the medical board exams, trainings and specialization, she served as a neurology resident at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and since 1994 serves as medical consultant at Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC). She is also department chairperson at the Saint Louis University Hospital of the Sacred Heart, and neurology consultant at the Baguio Medical Center.

Dr. Sarfati initiated the first accredited Adult Neurology Training Program outside Metro Manila and an active member of the Philippine Neurological Association, Philippine Headache Society, and Stroke Society of the Philippines.

Her primary concern is providing immediate attention to stroke and neurology-related problems, for patients in the city and neighboring areas. As such, she is the primary mover in setting up the first Stroke Unit in the city at BGHMC and has numerous trainings here and abroad in neurology.

She was recently awarded for her 25 years of service to BGHMC, recognized as “Core values and Integrity Champion; and a nominee for the Presidential Lingkod Bayan by the National Civil Service Commission office. In 2011, her Alma Mater UP Baguio accorded her recognition for outstanding achievement in the field of medicine.

She is married to Leon Sarfati, and they are blessed with three children Adria, Isabel and Katja.

The awardees receive plaques of recognition from city officials headed by Congressman Mark Go, Mayor Benjamin Magalong, Vice-Mayor Faustino Olowan, councilors and Baguio day guest of honor and speaker Senator Panfilo Lacson.

The SOCOB is an annual award given to outstanding citizens, proven to have provided “extraordinary contribution for the betterment of Baguio and people through work, advocacies and accomplishment” beyond their occupation or line of duty.

By: Julie G. Fianza and Aileen P.Refuerzo