MANILA, December 18, 2003  (STAR) ROSES AND THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces - Last week, the Vatican assigned Bishop Oscar Solis, then Pastor of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral in Louisiana to oversee the archdiocese of Los Angeles, one of the top US Catholic communities in the United States. Bishop Solis is a Filipino-American who was born and raised in San Jose, Nueva Ecija.

We have noted that Nueva Ecija has been producing some very outstanding citizens and that is why Nueva Ecija went from a fourth class province to second class in 1998 and by the end of this millennium, we are certain that it will be classified as a first class province. On this score we would like to commend the current governor, Rodolfo Q. Agbayani.

Governor Agbayani’s contributions to Nueva Ecija have been hailed by many prestigious organizations among which are: Local Government Leadership Award, Aurora Aragon Quezon Medal, Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence, President Scroll of Honor, 200 Lingkod Bayan Award, Gold, Silver and Bronze USA, Most Outstanding Alumnus of the Nueva Ecija General Comprehensive High School, Parangal Para sa Mararangal Award, Outstanding Public Service Award, The Watershed Management, Association in Rural Development Inc., Department of Health, Manila, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Land Registration of Authority, National Police Commission, Philippine National Police, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Fruit Association, Forestry Development Center, Youth Educators and Advocates for Reproductive Health Project Tri-Dev. Specialist Foundation, Inc., Nueva Viscaya State Institute of Technology, Philippine Councilor’s League, Nueva Ecija Federation of Tribal Councils, Department of Education, Culture and Sports, Social Development Committee, Commission on Population, Civil Service Commission, Knights of Columbus, Cooperative Development Authority, Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Ecija Press Club.

The province itself has received many local national awards and one very prestigious International Award, the Konrad Adenauer Medal of Excellence conferred by the Konrad Adenauer STIFTUNG award as a model province during the German Foundation Day celebration on the 1st day of December 1999. The award was for "providing dynamic leadership and for is exemplary performance emerging as a Model Province for achieving an administrative environment that promoted productivity in local governance."

Locally, it has received the Gawad Galing Pook Award from 1998 to 2003. In 1998-99, it was for Watershed Co-Management; in 1999-2000, for Revitalizing the Health Sector for 2001-2002, for its Free for Legacy, Empowerment of Persons and Real Property Tax System. These were during the Estrada and later the Macapagal administration. In 1998, it received the Apolinario Mabini Award for its program for the disabled Novo Ecijanos. It has also been received the Most Outstanding Province Award in Local Budget Administration, Annually, the Nueva Ecija is honored for the prevailing peace and order in the province. It has also been recognized as one of the cleanest ad greenest provinces. In its fight against poverty, Nueva Ecija succeeded in reducing poverty from 32 percent in 1992 to 10 percent in 2000, catapulting it as one of the 10 provinces in the entire country having the lowest poverty incidence as compared to the national level of 34 percent.

To all the Novo Ecijanos, we say: Congratulations and keep us the good work.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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