BY PILAR C. BRAGA
A PROLIFIC artist and a veteran journalist have been bestowed the Datu Bago, the highest award that Davao City grants to its constituents, and will be feted in formal ceremonies with President Rodrigo Duterte as the keynote speaker.
Rey Mudjahid “Kublai” Ponce Millan and Amalia “Amy” Bandiola Cabusao were cited for their outstanding, exemplary, and selfless contribution to the growth and development of Davao City, and their invaluable contribution to the preservation of the Davaoeños cultural heritage.
Now on its 47th anniversary, the conferment of the Datu Bago Awards 2017 will be one of the major events during the celebration of the 80th Araw ng Dabaw (Day of Davao), on Wednesday, March 15, at the Royal Ballroom, Royal Mandaya Hotel, in Davao City.
Millan has showcased Davao City’s art and culture in the national and global stage through his creations. He is the first Davaoeño and Filipino artist to create and display a life-size Nativity sculpture at the St. Peter’s Square, in the Vatican, during the entire Christmas Season, of 2010.
Cabusao, on the other hand, is a veteran journalist and a staunch promoter of campus and community journalism. She is the editor-in-chief of Mindanao Times, the oldest English newspaper in Mindanao. She is also a radio-program host and a documentary filmmaker.
Known for infusing his work with humanity and indigenous culture, Millan is a prolific artist whose offbeat sculptures of people are displayed at Davao City’s People’s Park. He is also known for his sculptures of the Philippine eagle and durian, which are installed at the Davao City International Airport.
“His creations are deeply rooted in the social context of Mindanao’s grassroots communities,” said the organizers of this year’s Datu Bago Awards. They added that Millan is the city’s favorite culture and arts ambassador, with many of his works displayed all over the city and other parts of Mindanao.
They also said, “His unique sculptures and art installations have become cultural landmarks and enjoyed by Davao residents and visitors alike.”
A staunch advocate of art and social justice, Millan works with those who have less in life—children in conflict with the law, orphans, abused children, and indigenous children—through free art workshops and fundraising exhibits for children’s artworks.
Not content with just writing and publishing community stories, Cabusao dedicates her life to building the capacities of young people, especially women and girls and indigenous youth, in communicating and storytelling.
She organizes regular summer workshops in journalism for local and international writers and promotes peace and conflict sensitivity in reporting in Mindanao. Recently, she launched the first Journalism Institute for Mindanao, based in Davao City, aimed at developing media research, providing venues for continuing education for students and offering internships for them in the region.
Cabusao is the first Mindanaoan who was awarded the prestigious Ninoy and Cory Aquino Fellowship for Presidential Development for her dedication in upholding press freedom and journalistic ethics. She is a fellow at the International Center of Journalists, in Washington, DC, and is part of the World Editors’ Forum.
The author is a councilor of Davao City.