Datu Bago awardees

THE Datu Bago Awards Foundation named two Dabawenyos to receive this year's award in time for the celebration of the 80th Araw ng Dabaw.

The highest award given to a Davao City resident who has contributed to the city's development, the award is bestowed to those who have shown exemplary competence and dedication and who best serve as models of excellence and inspiration to other Dabawenyos.

Rey Mudjahid Ponce Millan, a visual artist whose works have been the icons of the city, and Amalia Bandiola, editor-in-chief of Mindanao Times, are this year's Datu Bago awardees.

Bridging the gap

Bandiola is not just engaged in writing. She is also a radio program host, a women’s rights advocate, member of the Davao Historical Society, and a documentary filmmaker.

As early as 2003, Bandiola established the GE Torres Institute of Journalism in Davao City, which concentrates on media research, assisting researchers of the references they needed through the old archived files of Mindanao Times.

It was in November 2015 that the institute of was officially established, but projects had started as early as 2003 when she was appointed the publication’s editor-in-chief.

“I think I was nominated for the things I have done for journalists and journalism students. We really wanted to bridge the gap between the journalism students and the industry, the journalism practice,” Bandiola said.

Aside from the media research that their archiving room provides, Bandiola said they had been providing internship programs with different colleges and universities in Davao City like the University of Mindanao and Holy Cross of Davao City.

“I saw the gap with what’s being taught in schools and what is being done in the journalism practice. There is really a gap,” she said, adding that the internship programs they do with the AB English and Mass Communication students hopefully immerse them to the real scene in the industry.

Being a recipient of trainings and fellowships abroad, she imparts what she learned outside the country to other young journalists. She said she noticed how healthy the media environment is now. She noted the increased number of local newspapers, dailies, and reporters.

“I think bridging this gap is important for the students to know where they would be going after graduation.”

Magnifying beauty

Millan started as a graphic artist in Manila after studying in a university there but then he decided to return to Davao City to express himself more through visual arts particularly his massive sculptures and paintings.

Ponce Suites Gallery Hotel is owned by Millan’s family located at Dona Vicenta, Davao City. It is known for its display of unique artworks of the prolific artist.

“It speaks about culture. I cannot literally talk about my spirituality but its hidden there. It’s embedded in my pieces. But it’s more culture, history, and a lot of children. We’re simply saying, we are ripe, we are ready, we’re here to face the world as we are,” said Millan in an earlier interview.

A known advocate of social justice and art, Millan works with disadvantaged children in Davao City including the orphans, victims of abuse, and the indigenous children through free art workshops. He also conducts fundraising exhibits for these children’s artworks.

Not only were his work an icon in Davao City, he also was the artist behind Kampilan, a huge sculpture of Sultan Kudarat located in the province of Sultan Kudarat. He also made the Risen Christ monument at Tagum City. He is also responsible for the cultural landmark of the indigenous people sculptures located at the heart of Surallah, South Cotabato.

He was the first Filipino artist to display a life-sized Nativity sculpture at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City during Christmas of 2010.

The artist was recently going around the different countries in Europe to gain more knowledge and better his craft just so he can give more and share more to his beloved Dabawenyos and Mindanawons. During the visit, he met with his “master and mentor in spirit” sculptor Gustav Vigeland.

The 47th awarding of the Datu Bago Awards will be on March 15 at the Royal Ballroom of Royal Mandaya Hotel, Davao City. It will be attended by President Rodrigo Roa-Duterte as the keynote speaker.