Blessing from 30 Years in Government Service
There’s no place like home? Was it worth coming back
home in the Philippines in 1977 after 2 ½ years stay in Canada, with an
immigrant status and earning dollars? Did God give me the same favor
the Bible speaks of a ‘wisdom’ which King Solomon asked from God?
Although there were some trade-offs, counting my blessings after 30
years prove that it was the best decision, and let me prove to
It was thirty years ago on September 16, 1977, when I found myself
joining the public sector once again, but this time, for good (prior to
moving to Canada, I worked at the National Media Production Center). I
just arrived from Canada, and wanting of a job, I was blessed with
employment at the then Department of Public Information, Region 1,
located at Marcos Building, San Fernando, La Union. My office work was
a few minutes walk from our home.
During the May Santacruzan 1978, probably because I was “balikbayan”
and/or coming from the Ortega clan, I was privileged to be one of the
muses coming from the different sectoral groups. My twin sister, Luz,
employed at National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), represented
the different Constitutional/Commissions/Policy Offices while I
represented the Communications/Transportation sector. A selection of
Reina Elena and her Court was conducted at the Central Bank of the
Philippines and on May 24, at the town plaza, I was crowned Reina de
los Flores by PROD G. A. de la Cruz while Luz was hailed as Reina de
los Estrellas, by Santacruzan chairman Pete Hernando. The crowned Reina
Elena was Andrea Sanches by Sec. and Mrs. Jose D. Aspiras.
On that same year, the top priority project of our agency was MOCES,
the acronym of Movement for Cultural, Economic and Social Development,
which brings ‘the living past of Ilocano Culture’ to different places
during fiestas. The initial presentation was held on February 1978 at
San Fernando, La Union. Being the assistant project coordinator of
MOCES, naturally I had to deliver a speech. The presentation, however,
could not proceed because the electricity went out, and it was already
evening. With much anxiety, I approached my cousin, then an official of
the municipal government to tell him there was no rostrum for me to
speak, and he dismissed it saying, ‘the problem is there is no
electricity!’ Of all things, it was the rostrum that concernment me!
And so when my time to talk came, most of the audience has left with
only a few present to listen to my closing remarks. That first
experience challenged me for a passion on public speaking.
On April 26, 1980, I walked down the aisle as bride of Pacifico Argel,
a resident of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Our meeting was providential. He was
working in Manila but volunteered to be transferred to San Fernando at
the same time I just came from abroad and hired at the same office
building where he was assigned. God, or Love, indeed works in
moved to Vigan, Ilocos Sur. As Chicoy and I were planning to have a
family, we decided to build our own home. Thanks to the Home
Development Mutual Fund, popularly known as the PAG-IBIG Fund which
helps provide shelter, we were among those early members who were able
to avail of its services to build a dream house.
From being a casual employee earning a meager P12 a day in 1977, I
finally got a permanent position upon the recommendation letter of
Actg. Regional Director Oscar G. Alvarado to Minister Francisco S.
Tatad on December 4, 1978. I still keep a photocopy of that letter
which partly reads "is Ms. Ma. Nila Ortega, our
acting Chief of Special Projects". She has been with the office since
September 1977 as a casual employee but due to lack of any vacancy in
our plantilla for technical positions, she has remained as such to the
present. A Media Researcher position would be right enough for her.
I would like to believe that, more than my being “such an achiever,” it
was actually out of pity on me that the good regional director
recommended me. I have not forgotten that incident such that, modesty
aside, I believed I have imbibed a similar attitude which I show
towards my staff. I tend to be more sympathetic, patient and
understanding with them, letting them grow in their respective careers
as well as reminding them to seek God in their work. In fact a PIA
anchored program at DZNS brings Government programs through PIA
Dispatch and Values formation through the lives of saints as part of the governments Recovery Program.
In 1985, when I had my first son and the years that followed, I
balanced my life between God, wife and mother to three handsome boys,
career and friends. I always make it a point to attend Christmas
Programs for I belong to the PIA family and maintain my social ties in
Department of Public Information was abolished following the EDSA
People Power Revolution of 1986, and replaced by the Philippine
Information Agency, I was designated as Information Center Manager, a
position I hold up to the present.
As infocen manager, naturally, I had to lead my staff towards the
fulfillment of our mandate of bringing the government closer to the
people and vice-versa via information and support of government
programs and projects.
Communication Arts graduate from the University of Santo Tomas, I
conducted journalism training course in campuses and municipalities
that created or improved School and Community Papers.
Good families make a good nation, so I do advocacy on various causes
which are detrimental on family life such as Dangerous Drugs, Child
Abuse and DIVORCE. Another advocacy is the Generics Act of 1988 that
was signed by President Corazon Aquino to provide safe and effective
drugs that are available and affordable to the poor segment of society.
This program extended in the present administration is a topic during
Kapihan programs, convocations and essay contest conducted by our
provincial office in our efforts of providing information and draw
our province of Ilocos Sur is often “hot”, we experience the problem of
El Niño; and sometimes, the La Niña. Both are detrimental to local
agriculture and livelihood that is why our local information center has
joined hands with the Department of Agriculture in conducting annually
information campaigns to help farmers and farm hands as well as
household combat the effects of these climatic phenomena. We also did
advocacy on Bird Flu.
same our mother earth, I became an active member of the Provincial
Monitoring Committee in Clean and Green Program going even to the
farthest municipalities of the province. During the Gawad Pangulo sa
Kapaligiran Awarding Ceremonies on October 29, 2003 at the Provincial
Capito, I led in the invocation, with this prayer _ We thank you Lord
for people who plant trees that give shade in the parts and beautiful
flowers; for people who keep marketplaces sanitary that make those
making a living in these places and those who buy bearable; and for
people who respect our beaches that soothes and relaxes our minds and
As I have
already mentioned God Almighty, I am very glad to add that I have
indeed renewed a deeper relationship with Him. Or rather, God has
“called” me for a more meaningful relationship with Him PIA
Director-General Joel C. Paredes, was supportive to the whole day
celebration held on December 9, 1999. The Ilocos Sur Consecration to
God the Father was held at the Vigan Heritage Village wherein the
12-foot statue of God the Father was blessed by His Excellency Most
Rev. Edmundo M. Abaya, D.D. and consecration prayers were led by
Jeremias Singson, provincial board member. In the afternoon a puppet
show entitled “Tatlong Biik” performed by the Special Media Division
under Mr. Daniel Santos, Staff Director, was shown at the University of
Northern Philippines. Finally in the evening a second presentation of
the puppet show and a tape presentation entitled: ‘Sa Ilocos Sur,
Mamamayan Ayaw sa Droga’ was held at the Vigan Burgos town plaza.
My twin sister and I have helped immensely in the propagation of the
devotion to God Our Father, not just in the province but in the entire
country. We have even gone to Europe for that, which by the way, is
where (Rome, in particular) the devotion began.
Being an information center manager is not without its perks. In 1993 I
joined the Junior Executive Training-Supervisory Training for Effective
Administration Management (JET-STREAM) Class XV11 held at Lingayen,
Pangasinan by the Civil Service Commission. I was thrilled when I
topped the pre-test. Along with other managers and officials, I had the
privileged to step in Malacañang and attended seminars and conferences
conducted by top echelon of the Presidential Management Staff and PIA.
After the briefings, I re-echoed what the administration is doing to
the Ilocos Sur Public Information Officers at the Provincial Capitol
and solicited their support to the attainment of the President’s
Our present PIA
Director-General Conrado A. Limcauco, Jr. acted favorably on the
request of Regional Director, Abraham Libadia for a regional staff
development aimed at improving the rank and file’s knowledge and
maintaining camaraderie. This led us on June 15, 2007, for a short
visit to Malacañang which is located in front of PIA Baguio office.
Aside from imparting information regarding government programs to the
public, I also got to impart knowledge inside the classroom. This time,
among students at the University of Northern Philippines in Ilocos Sur
when I became a part-time instructor, being a Masters in Management
Graduate at UP-Baguio, at the Graduate School for more than 3 years.
The whole bureaucracy celebrates this September the 107th year of the
Philippine Civil Service this September with the theme: “Itaguyod and
Kasarinlan ng Career Service” which highlights the significance of the
career service as a distinct institution and one that is a partner in
governance. It gives impetus to the recognition of the distinct
identity of the career service and to appreciate the critical role it
plays in the fulfillment of the government’s duty to the public.
Holding a degree in Doctor of Philosophy from Don Mariano Marcos State
University, La Union had made me more resolved in continuing to doing
my share in the attainment of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s
Vision of a Strong Republic. Our work is meant to be co-creative. We
have to live con brio, which means full of life and enthusiasm.
Hedy Jose B. Lardizabal, Director of the Civil Service Commission of
the province of Ilocos Sur on September 7 at 7 a.m. led the Provincial
employees in a physical fitness program or “HATAW NA” as an avenue of
promoting a sound mind and a sound body at Plaza Burgos. I join the
yearly “HATAW NA” and daily schedule at the Vigan Culture Trade Center
to sustain the benefits, a laudable program under the administration of
Vigan City Mayor Eva Marie Singson-Medina.
The PIA Central Office through Fortunata C. Viloria, Chief of the
Personnel Section and noted by Cristina V. Castillo, staff director of
Human Resource Management Division informed my officemate, Ben Pacris
and I for a loyalty pay, a fringe benefits for 30 years in government
service. With the physical fitness program, it makes me fit for work
until I retire from government service a few years from now.
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