In the photo Assistant Secretary Alberto Suansing (extreme left) of the Land Transportation Office joins Gerry Alava (extreme right), Goodyear Philippines Managing Director, in awarding the five new winners of the Bayani ng Kalsada 2009 namely (from left to right) Alejandro Baldevieso, Arturo Dagatan, Primitivo Salo, Andy Alvarez and the first female winner of the award Georgine Manantan.
Gerry Alava, Managing Director of Goodyear Philippines explains, "Bayani ng Kalsada is not simply a popularity contest, it is a concrete manifestation of what road safety is all about - a celebration of ordinary deeds done by ordinary people who went beyond comfort and convenience to be 'Good Samaritans' when the situation called for it."
More than anyone, the responsibility of road safety falls more heavily on the shoulders of the public utility drivers whose passengers' lives and safety they hold in their hands. BNK served to uplift the dignity of these drivers as four out of the five winners were all public utility vehicle drivers.
Jeepney driver Andy Alvarez (national champion) and tricycle driver Alejandro Baldevieso exemplified heroism as they stepped out of their comfort zones and came to the rescue of individuals who needed immediate medical assistance. While bus driver Arturo Dagatan and taxi driver Primitivo Salo both put honesty above their personal needs as they chose to return monies left in their vehicles.
"Inaalagaan ko po ang aking dignidad bilang taxi driver. Hindi po ako naghahangad ng parangal, ang gusto ko lang po ay makatulong sa kapwa ko. Ang pagiging bayani ay ang pagmamahal ko sa kapwa at sa mga pasahero. Bilang Pilipino, kung isasapuso natin ito, ay maaring magkaroon ng pagbabago sa bansa. (I have always taken care of my dignity as a taxi driver. I do not seek awards or commendations. A hero is one who loves his neighbor and watches out for them. As Filipinos, if we believe in this, we will start to see change happen in our nation)," said Primitivo Salo.
Meanwhile, Georgine Manantan from Cubao is the sole private driver and first female to win the award. As a nurse and mother of four, she always had the natural instinct to help those in need, whether on or off the road. One particular act of bravery and courage by Manantan that justifies her as the Bayani ng Kalsada was when she saved a one-year old child from being hit by a truck by using her own car as a barrier.
"My instinct as a mother took over and I thought about my own children when I saved the child. I know in my heart that if my kids had been in need, I would want someone to be there to help them," said Manantan.
Regional winners Baldevieso, Dagatan, Salo and Manantan will each receive a cash prize of Php 30,000. While overall winner, Alvarez, will receive Php 50,000.
Bayani ng Kalsada is the Philippine version of a successful, long-running Goodyear program held annually in the U.S. and Canada (since 1983) that is now also held annually in Asia Pacific countries such as Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Dubbed Highway Heroes, the program has recognized truck drivers who have done heroic acts of courage, sacrifice and service on the road over the last 21 years. This year's program is in cooperation with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), Manila Bulletin, Pilipino Star Ngayon, Abante, Centro Negosyo, Honda Safety Driving Center, Standard Insurance, Cebuana Lhuillier and Safety Organization of the Philippines, Inc. (SOPI).