Bansalan Honors Five Distinguished Bansaleños
By Henrylito D. Tacio
Five individuals, including the flight surgeon who’s an expert on emergency medical services, will be recognized during the 57th founding anniversary of Bansalan, Davao del Sur, on September 18 for “bringing honor to the town.”
Mayor Edwin G. Reyes will bestow the coveted Outstanding Bansaleño Award to Dr. Teofredo T. Esguerra, Atty. Israelito P. Torreon, Benjamin R. Lao, Leila Noel-Rispens, and Evelyn B. Laguidao. The five people are chosen for their exemplary contribution and for excelling in their chosen professions.
Dr. Teofredo Esguerra is cited “for part of the Filipino team who scaled the world’s highest peak, Nepal’s Mount Everest” in 2006 as the team’s lone physician.
He stayed for the most part at the base camp, which was 18,000 feet above sea level.
“We stayed for 3 months around the Himalayan ranges to acclimatize our bodies to high altitude,” he recalls. “We climbed lower peaks to train and adapt to the environment where we were in. Nobody just climbs the highest peaks there without acclimatizing.”
Dr. Esguerra became the most popular figure in the mountain when he rendered medical treatment for free (where charges were as much as $75 for checkups and treatments). “Along the way, I ended up a doctor to everyone – Tibetans, Spanish, Italian, South African, Israeli, Belgian, Indonesian, Singaporean, Malaysian, American, French, German, Swiss, everyone!”
When he turned 36, Atty. IsraelitoTorreon was elected president of the Davao del Sur chapter of Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). As such, he was cited “for being elected the youngest president ever.”
“I consider my age as an asset because youthfulness exemplifies new approaches, ideas and/or viewpoints to certain problems or situations which my fellow lawyers readily accept,” Atty. Torreon pointed out.
A law professor at the Ateneo de Davao University, he founded the Ateneo Forensic, the university’s law debating club. Last June, the team became champion in the first International Humanitarian Law Debate held at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Likewise, the team emerged winner in the ABS CBN News Channel Square Off Debates.
Benjamin Lao is recognized “for being chosen as the Gawad Saka 2008 national awardee for coconut farming by the Department of Agriculture.” He has proven that a barren land can be turned into productive farm.
His farm is located in Eman, Davao del Sur. Aside from coconut, the Lao Integrated Farm is also teeming with various fruits like lanzones (more than a thousand trees), durian (700 trees), mangosteen, and rambutan. “I bought them one at a time from my salary as a government employee,” he said.
In his farm, you won’t see his farm workers using chemical pesticides. “I had a tragic experience with chemical pesticides when I was still a teenager while cultivating rice in our farm located at the neighboring barangay,” he revealed.
To people who have been to his farm, they have described it as a haven. You don’t see only livestock and crops but ornamentals as well. “It’s nice to see beautiful flowers underneath the trees,” Lao explained. “Also, the flowers serve as breeding areas for beneficial insects like spiders and dragonflies.”
Lalay Rispens-Noel is married to a Dutch national, Willem Rispens. She used to live in the Netherlands but recently moved to Hong Kong. She is cited “for leading the former residents of Bansalan now living abroad into a virtual community through the Association of Bansaleños Worldwide (ABW).”
Rispens-Noel is also one of the most sought speakers on such topics as migration, development, remittances, and capacity building of diaspora organizations. She is also a good source of information on links between remittances and development.
When asked about her passion, she replied, “To serve the poor and enhance the development potentials of migration.”
Before she became Mrs. Laguidao, she was known as Evelyn Bautista. She grew up and studied in Bansalan. Later on, she migrated to the United States, where she now works at the World Bank headquarters.
Past recipients include broadcast journalist Jay Sonza, bonsai expert Serapion Metilla, international singer Jojo Adlawan, the late last Bagobo weaver Salinta Monon, and TOYM awardee Dr. Warlito A. Laquihon.
(Also published in SunStar Davao)