Eight women achievers were awarded as The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) last November 17, 2016 and two of them are Negrenses.
The awardees came from different backgrounds and were chosen by a board of judges chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno. According to Sereno, these women were chosen “for bringing pride/recognition to their community and/or the country, demonstrating pioneering zeal in their work, introducing innovations that benefit the public, and by going beyond their sphere of influence.”
Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue: Bringing More ICT Jobs to the Countryside
Former Bacolod Councilor and lawyer Jocelle Batapa-Sigue was chosen as one of the eight recipients of TOWNS Awards because of her pioneering work and her advocacy for information and communication technology (ICT) in the countryside.
Atty. Batapa-Sigue, is the Executive Director of Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communication Technology (BNEFIT) and consultant of the Negros Occidental provincial government for ICT Investments. She has been championing the ICT sector of Bacolod ever since she spearheaded the establishment of the multi-sectoral Bacolod IT-Focus Team in 2004 which later became the BNEFIT. Through her leadership, Bacolod was recognized globally and ranked 85th City in the Tholons International Top 100 Cities in the world. Bacolod was also named Center of Excellence for IT-Business Process Management in the Philippines in 2013. There were 24,000 BPO employees in Negros Occidental in 2015 with equivalent to P3 billion annual salary.
Atty. Jocelle has also been championing ICT in the countryside by campaigning, training, and assisting LGUs in establishing their own ICT councils. She served as NICP President from 2010-2012 and continues to be a trustee to this day. She currently leads the Visayas ICT Cluster Organization (VICTOR).
Wherever she goes, she brings with her her brand of MAGIC which is Mobilizing Academe-Government-Industry-Co
Cherrie Atilano: Bringing Farming to the Mainstream
Another Negrense among the TOWNS awardees is Cherrie Atilano, a native of Silay City. Her advocacy in agriculture started when she was just 12 years old when she started teaching migrant sugarcane farmers (sacadas) how to grow vegetables in order to save on food. This passion in agriculture led Atillano to take up a degree in Agriculture at the Visayas State University where she graduated magna cul laude. She was as full scholar under the Negros Occidental provincial government’s Pagkaon Scholarship Program.
After college, she was hired by Ayala Corporation but she left her job to work full-time for Gawad Kalinga’s Food Sufficiency Programniha where she trained 60,000 farming families in 1,300 farms nationwide. She also had an opportunity to study in the US as a Fulbright Scholar but she declined in favor of her work with Gawad Kalinga.
Atillano founded AGREA Agricultural System Int’l. Inc., an agri-social enterprise in Marinduque which aims to build sustainable farming communities through sustainable organic agriculture and fair trade practices. AGREA links the farming communities to the agriculture supply chain so that the farmers get better prices for their crops. Atillano has also been going around the country, including Negros Occidental, to talk about organic agriculture and encourage the youth to go into farming.
Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue and Cherrie Atillano joins the list of TOWNS 2016 awardees which include Hidilyn Francisco Diaz (Sports), Patricia Chanco Evangelista (Media), Luisa Mercedes “Issa” Paez Lorenzo (Arts), Marissa Andres Martinez (Government Service), Aisa Alvarez Mijeno (Social Enterprise), and Lou Sabrina Saavedra Ongkiko (Education). These exceptional women serve as role models to young girls who want to break the proverbial glass ceiling and succeed in any field they want.