By Coca H. Strobar



“Hand in hand, let us continue to strive for a more prosperous and comfortable life for your family and to the future generation of Filipinos “


This was the emotional appeal of President Rodrigo R. Duterte as he gives to winners the Most Outstanding OFW Family Awards (MOFYA) 2017 last December 5th at Malacanang Palace.


The President also reiterated his intense campaign against illegal drugs and the vigilance demanded of families with heads working overseas.


Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and Overseas Workers Welfare (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac assisted the president.


MOFYA is an annual event organized by OWWA to recognize exemplary overseas Filipino workers and families. It is divided into two categories, sea-based and land-based.



Region XII’s Chief Engr. Noe Canja Diola and family is the national winner, besting 16 others. He is from Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, raised by a widowed mother.


The Diola couple has organized medical, dental missions and other outreach programs, in tandem with the Dept. of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Special Program for Employment of Scholars. Wife Angelita is a dentist, multi-tasking with their business while taking care of their Grade 9 kid (as the two eldest children are now doctors).


Capt. Emerico Gepilano and family of Region VII (Central Visayas) earned the Special Award for Community Service. He comes from a family of Cebuano merchant mariners.


With six other seafarers, he established CREST Maritime Assessment, Review and Training Center for aspiring seafarers and community outreach programs like cleft palate surgeries, feeding programs, and scholarships for the less fortunate.


Gepilano is president of the Visayas Maritime Stakeholders Association; proud of once being a neighbor of “Digong” at Banawa, Cebu City, until the man transferred to Malacanang.


Other sea-based regional winners:

Michael Eugenio – Pugo, La Union

Crisanto Limbauan – Enrile, Cagayan

Patricio Fernando – Dinalupihan, Bataan

Teodorico Pagkaliwangan – Indang Cavite

Edgardo Nardo – Boac, Marinduque

Benito Casquejo – Tabaco City, Albay

Agustin Bedia – Oton, Iloilo

Captain Rodello Ponay – Catbalogan City, Samar

Captain Romulo Elagor – Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte

Cesar Maderal – Mahayahay, Iligan City

Remegildo Banderado – Lanang, Davao City

Noe Diola, Pigcawayan – North Cotabato (national winner)

Jun Salazar – Parang, Maguindanao

Roberto Vizcarra – Guisad, Baguio City

Napoleon Jovita – San Juan, Surigao City

Rodrigo Pulvera – Batasan Hills, Quezon City



NCR’s Leo R. De Belez and family won the national level in the land-based category.


Awarded regional honors:

Russell Vilmer Tandoc – Dagupan City, Pangasinan

Marcela Valdez – Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya

Nicolas Perez – Nabua, Camarines Sur

Antonio Morales – La Paz, Iloilo

Gerry Paglinawan- Cebu City

Salvador Villalino – Catbalogan, Samar

Albie Usama- Zamboanga City

Aurelia Lunsayan- Sumilao, Bukidnon

Radiya Mustapa – Mati, Davao Oriental

Evelyn Camendan – Takurong City, Sultan Kudarat

Sultan Samer Tatak – Mamasapano, Maguindanao

Saturnino Valencia – Baguio City

Dr Rolando Hordista – Trento, Agusan del Sur

Nestor Dizon – Pampanga

Antonio Fernandez

Abad Arellano


Diola and De Belez each received a trophy and P500,000 cash. They won over Regional winners, each category with 17 shortlisted candidates. Regional winners received recognition plaques and cash prize of P30,000 each.