RESPONSE ON BEHALF OF THE AWARDEES
Lt. Col. John Paul D. Baldomar, PA
2019 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipino
Conferment Ceremonies, September 4, 2019
Our esteemed Guest of Honor House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano;
Metrobank and Metrobank Foundation chairman Arthur V. Ty;
Distinguished officials from the government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, academe, and the Philippine National Police;
Members of the diplomatic corps;
Distinguished members of the Final Board of Judges chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian and co-chaired by Justice Alexander Gesmundo;
Board of Assessors;
Metrobank vice chairman Francis Sebastian;
Metrobank Foundation trustee and Federal Land chairman Alfred Ty;
Metrobank president Fabian Dee;
Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña;
Other members of the board of trustees, advisers, and officers of the Metrobank Foundation;
Officers of the Rotary Clubs of New Manila East and Makati Metro;
Fellow Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos;
Families, Friends, ladies and gentlemen;
I am deeply elated and truly honored to be standing in front of this distinguished audience as one of the Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Filipinos for 2019. This recognition is one of, if not the highest moment in my life. Since the announcement of the result, a lot has already happened. Among of which is people would greet and congratulate me but on the side lines would jokingly ask for a share of the cash prize being a new millionaire. I believe my fellow awardees can also relate to this. But what really concerns me most is when people ask me, “What’s the secret to win the award? How did I do it?”. Well tonight, this would be the first time I’m gonna talk about that secret and the answer is very simple …”I don’t know!” I really do not know how I did it. But instead allow me to tell you some defining moments in my life as a public servant in my effort to answer the question.
Since my second lieutenant years, I have always kept a life verse … a biblical promise that I always claim and hold on to which says… “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29: 11-13). However, 16 years ago, that promise was tested. It was when I find myself fighting for my life in the hospital after being wounded-in-action and suffering from an almost damaged left lung. It was a near death experience. I was then on the verge of considering the possibility of being medically discharged from the military service. I said to myself, “This is it, the end of my military career.” I was full of frustration and bitterness. I resented and blamed God. How could he allow such a tragic thing to happen? Why would God allow me to live and yet some of my men, good men died, leaving behind their very young families.
Little did I know that God is not yet done with my life. I remember when I met a fine military officer who is so passionate in his service as a soldier. Out of curiosity I asked him, “sir after all the frustrations, issues and problems in the AFP, why do you still wanted to stay in the military?” He looked at me, paused for a few seconds, smiled and said…”the Armed Forces needs good and godly men to serve our country”… good and godly men to serve our country. That very day, I challenged myself to be the best that I could be in everything. After God gave me my second life, I again started to believe that He really does have a plan and a future for me, and that God might have something more for me to accomplish. Few months later, I found myself reporting back to my unit in the frontline while at the same time working very hard to physically recover from my injuries. Then the rest was history.
Who would have ever thought that months after that, I and my men would be instrumental in helping 95 displaced Tiruray families in Maguindanao. After being dislodged from their ancestral lands, they are now a transformed community; have shelters for their families; schools for their children; and livelihood to meet their basic daily needs. That after 18 years, from 95 families without a home, they have now grown into more than 300 families living peacefully in three Sitios of Maguindanao.
Who would ever imagine, that together with my team, we would be a part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ journey for genuine transformation through its Transformation Roadmap-a desire of every soldier, airmen, sailor, and marine that the AFP will be relevant to the Filipino people.
Today, I stand in front of you, truly privileged yet humbled because I know this was made possible through the goodness of God. I stand knowing that the story of my success is not mine alone. It is rather just a small part of the stories of people who’s been an instrument to influence my life. Allow me to share their stories.
This is the story of my mother, who decided to rear me despite the challenges and trials of her pregnancy. Who sacrificed a lot yet decided to give me life. This is the story of my Tatay Emin who is now with our creator. He taught me valuable lessons in life as a World War II veteran who once fought for the freedom that we are enjoying right now.
This is the story of my family, who sacrificed a lot trying to understand why I was so dedicated to serve my country and yet cannot even give them the time they deserve. The story of my wife Michelle who stood firm and supported me in every situation and trials in my career and in our lives. The story of my kids MJ and Yana who never failed to make me smile despite an exhausting day. You are the people whom I wanted to be most proud of me.
This is the story of my men in the frontlines who silently had given so much for our country. A testament of men who doesn’t get recognized yet continuously work and serve with dedication, accomplishing even the tasks that are beyond their mandates. They entrusted their lives to me and have treated me more than a brother. Together we rejoiced in times of victory and mourn in times of despair. They are the persons who genuinely love our country without asking anything in return.
This is the story of the Tiruray Community in Maguindanao, who suffered so much yet choose to live in peace. They have proven that transformation of an entire community is possible, if desired. They have shown us sincerity and loyalty and are willing to give up their lives for the friendship that we shared. They have taught us life’s important lessons about persistence, contentment, loyalty and friendship.
This is the story of my men who made the ultimate sacrifice. The stories of the late Cpl Grejaldo, Cpl Bayoneta, and CAA Bonbon Ulubalang, who sacrificed their lives just to save mine. Without them I would not be here right now. They have taught me the importance of our brotherhood that is thicker than blood. I know you are looking down at me right now from heaven, this recognition is for you. Thank you for your service. Your sacrifices will never be forgotten.
This is also the story of my mentors and seniors, who guided me in knowing the difference between right and wrong. They are the people who never withhold the chance to praise and yet know when to privately correct my mistakes. They are the people who offered their wisdom and knowledge and even shared their lives with me.
This is the story of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ journey for genuine transformation. A journey of men and women who places high value on honor, service, and patriotism. A journey of dedication and commitment to always protect the Filipino people, the constitution, and the sovereignty of our state.
This is also the story of my fellow awardees, who selflessly committed their lives as public servants. They are the people who faced challenges yet never backed down because they know that greatness is born out from those who were tested much like our outstanding teachers: Dr. Dorothy Tarol, Dr. Cristina Cristobal, Dr. Ricardo Jose, and Dr. Eva Cutiongco-de la Paz. They strived for excellence and worked passionately to prepare the next generations of Filipinos. This is a story of service-oriented police officers who always find fulfillment in helping others like our police awardees: PCol Edwin Quilates, PMaj Robert Reyes, and PCMS Marsha Agustin. They choose to give their lives to the noble profession of serving and protecting the Filipino people. Stories of valor and courage of my fellow soldier awardees: Maj Romulo Dimayuga and MSgt Ramil Caporas. They adopted the profession of arms and took the road less travelled of selfless service to our nation with the aspiration of making a difference.
This is also a story of Dr. George Ty’s legacy through the Metrobank Foundation. The story of giving importance in doing our jobs “beyond excellence” in order to make a difference and help our country become great again. The story of continuously inspiring Filipinos to be a source of hope and provide a lasting positive impact in the lives of our countrymen.
And most importantly this is a story of God’s goodness in my life. A story of grace given even though it is undeserved. A story of God’s plan for me. Plans to prosper, for hope, and a promising future. This is a story of how God has given me my second life and how He will use it to impact the lives of others. To God be all the glory and honor. He alone deserves all the praises for this award!
In behalf of my fellow awardees, I would like to close with an answer to the previous question, “how did we do it.” “How did we win the award?” And this is the best answer we got. Maybe what we did in our lives as public servants was not actually aimed to win an award, because for us, the true measure of a man lies not on the recognition that he receives but on the impact that he leaves behind. Let us always serve with this simple principle in life: “Do not withhold good to those who need it, if it is in your capacity to do it.” (Psalms 3:27)
Let us always find joy in helping others and never hold back. There is no higher calling than to serve our country in any capacity that we can. There is nothing more fulfilling than to see the impact of our service in the lives of others. Sometimes we are called upon to serve our country in ways we didn’t expect. We might say we are not ready…none of us were ready …and none of us is perfect. But we do our job beyond excellence because our country is worthy of our excellence. As we face our daily battles we trust our training, instincts and most of all the Almighty God. In some trials we’ll be successful…in some we won’t…and in some we’ll only know it in due time. But we serve our country each day hopeful that our sacrifices have been worth it…that our excellence has been good enough. In that way we will grow our influence to make an impact. In that way we will honor those who have gone ahead of us and those who have invested their lives on us. Only God knows how the ripples of our service and influence will have a lasting impact in the lives of our fellow Filipinos and of the generations to come.
May God richly bless you all. Thank you very much and have a wonderful evening.