Baguio media mounting photographs to help ailing senior colleague

“His brilliant mind and caring heart make him stand out among us,” thus says Dhobie de Guzman of ABS-CBN about Baguio about elder journalist Ramon Dacawi, for whom press photographers are mounting an exhibit to help him cope with his life-time expenses due to kidney ailment.

Dacawi almost did not make it back to the daily grind after attacks of complications induced by diabetes. A patron and benefactor for countless indigent patients, Dacawi dedicated his talents, resources and influence to give hope to the ailing, mostly those undergoing life-time dialysis for kidney failure.

Ironically, he fell prey to the same illness. Doctors told him in August last year that his kidneys had failed and that he would have to undergo thrice-a-week hemodialysis treatment for a lifetime, alongside the patients he had been helping.

Records from the Baguio City Mayor’s Office where he works as information officer reveal a string of awards bestowed on him by national and international institutions and organizations. Among these were the Lingkod Bayan National Award by the Civil Service Commission as Outstanding Public Servant in 2001; Outstanding Citizen of Baguio in 2002 in the field of journalism; DENR Regional Environmental Award in 1997; and the Oscar Florendo Award given by the Local Government Academy.

The Eco-Walk, a kids’ environmental program which he founded in 1991, in response to the devastation wrought by the killer-earthquake on the Cordillera the previous year, won for the city the 1996 “Galing Pook” Award bestowed by the Asian Institute of Management and the Department of the Interior and Local Governemtn. This children’s environmental immersion into the vital role of forests in sustaining life was made a model throughout the world. Its effectiveness was cited by the United Nations Environmental Programme which bestowed on the children’s project its 2002 Global 500 Award.

Forced by his illness, Dacawi accepted last year a second nomination for the Lingkod Bayan Award, this time for linking up indigent patients to Samaritans who would respond upon reading his articles on the plight of the afflicted who have no one to turn to for support.

Dacawi nursed a glimmer of hope that the contest would pave a way for an encounter with President Benigno Aquino III, for him to ask His Excellency’s endorsement of a request for fund support from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes office so he could under kidney transplant at the National Kidney Transplant Institute in Quezon City. Alas, he fell short of the president’s signature during the finals and had to contend being a regional winner. The National Lingkod Bayan Award would have entitled him the much-needed P200,000.00 cash prize and an audience with the President.

On his 65th birthday tomorrow, September 14, 2015, the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC) is launching a photo exhibit to raise funds for the newsman who spent years writing stories linking patients to Samaritans.

“This is our way of recognizing an icon who, for decades, had been giving light where others dare not,” said de Guzman, the current president of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club.

The photo-exhibit will run until October 1, 2015 at the new Town Plaza Hotel, at #43 C.M. Recto St. (former Navy Base Road), corner Leonard Wood Road across the Baguio Botanical Garden.

The organizers invite everybody to the exhibit that showcases the beauty of the Cordilleras and the unique images of its culture and people. The images linger in the mind for a long time especially if one actually went to see them.

The journalists’ effort had been prompted by Dacawi’s admission to different hospitals here the previous weeks, draining his meager resources.

“I stayed a week at the Baguio General Hospital (BGH). They then rushed me to the Notre Dame Hospital for another week, but then again to the SLU Hospital of the Sacred Heart for a week more. I was taken back to BGH where it took a month this time for doctors to release me. The medical staff was as baffled as I was about my condition. I resolved to slowly collect my faculties so that when I was released, I had three “mumbaki” (Ifugao priests) perform a culture-based ritual for my recovery,” he said with a chuckle. “When we cannot explain things, we resort and cling to culture for an explanation.”

Last July, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City visited Baguio for an encounter with media on his proposal to run for President. In one of the lighter moments at the Baguio Country Club, former North Cotabato Gov. Manny Pinol, now Mayor Duterte’s personal assistant, joked about the failure of Ramon to seek an audience with President Aquino for the kidney transplant assistance. Mayor Duterte retorted, “Anong gusto mo, kidney ng rapist, ng magnanakaw o ng smuggler? Bibigyan kita pero ikaw ang pupunta sa Davao.”

Pinol believed Duterte was not joking in proposing he would help look for a donor./Vicenter Sapguian


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