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Talpulano is an old man. He was once a teacher in one of the public schools in Banton, one of the early teachers, actually. Intelligent and hardworking, he was offered a chance to teach in one of the prestigious schools in Manila whose faculty was often diminished by migrations to America. Yet, he chose to stay in Banton for he knew Banton needed him. There were not many teachers in the island then and probably, no teachers from other parts of the province would be interested to teach there. He has seen his counterparts go out of the island to seek for greener pasture. He knew most of them reaped success. He was tempted to follow them. But he chose to stay. And for thirty-five years, he taught in the same school where he eventually retired 10 years ago.

Just six years ago, during Banton’s Diamond Jubilee celebration, he was at the bleacher as he watched the awarding ceremonies for the "illustrious sons" of Banton – all successful individuals. Grown old and sentimental, he was a little hurt. He could feel the ingratitude of the town he served for almost half of his life and a people he sacrificed his dreams of personal progress for.

But with the wisdom he has gathered in a lifetime that may not take long to end, he understood. Bantoanons are success-driven people. Bantoanons are fascinated with titles, educational attainment, positions, honor, America and the likes. Bantoanons are fanatics of rags-to-riches and success stories. Bantoanons do value generous deeds and civic-mindedness but maybe those things have become so ordinary for them that they would overlook those noble deeds of lowly individuals even though these deeds made a difference in the lives of fellow Bantoanons.

In fairness to those who initiate these awards, maybe titles or positions are the easiest to measure. And it is not at all bad to give recognition to those who succeeded in life and in the process brought us honor for the purpose of inspiring the young to work as hard to attain the same, or probably more.

It’s just that maybe some organizations or groups need to initiate awards for these Talpulanos.

With this issue, SILAK launches the annual search for the Bantoanon of the Year with the main objective of recognizing the individual or group of individuals who makes the biggest difference in the lives of Bantoanons during the year. The selection criteria will emphasize on the services rendered to Bantoanons and the importance and effects of such selfless actions to the lives of the greater number of Bantoanons.

This citation may not altogether nurse the hurts of many Talpulanos who gave their share for the upliftment of the lives of others, yet remained unknown and unrecognized. Neither does it promise that every Talpulano who deserves recognition will be given what’s due him. But SILAK hopes it could start something towards this direction.

More importantly, SILAK hopes that with this citation, it would inculcate in the Bantoanons’ psyche that more important than the titles, positions or individual honors are the values of sharing one’s talent, wealth and time with others.

Volume II No 4