- Priest to the Negrenses for 23 years and a prime mover of social change in the province, ANTONIO FORTICH in January 1967 became Bishop of Bacolod.
- From collaboration between the Bishop and GASTON grew creation, in 1968, of the Dacongcogon Producers Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc., now with 1,234 members.
- The RMAF board of trustees recognizes their engineering of an experiment in rural development giving small, indebted farmers in Dacongcogon Valley control of their livelihood and new hope.
We have come today to accept this singular honor as one of the recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, fully cognizant of the challenge that goes with it.
Indeed the honor is overwhelming and viewed against the ideals, aims and purposes of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation one can only accept the same as indicating public recognition of the efforts and energies, as well as sacrifices and indomitable spirit, of the many men and women of goodwill who have kept faith with us during the most trying and difficult days at the inception of the Dacongcogon Cooperative Sugar Mill project.
The fact that a clergyman has been chosen this year under the category of Public Service has made the challenge doubly significant.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award for the Dacongcogon project clearly and mistakably shows what a resolute and dedicated group of men can do in the interest of the common good—indeed it is a tri-sectoral success. The Dacongcogon story stands as a positive fruition of the
common efforts of the Church and of deeply-concerned men in government and the private sector in the earnest search for a better life for the Filipino common man.
It was interest in the poor and the impoverished that propelled us in 1969 to undertake this socioeconomic project. This Award therefore will be to us a public covenant to pursue these goals which we have freely chosen for ourselves in the interest of justice, prosperity and the happiness of our people as a sound and firm foundation for the continued stability of our free way of life.
We accept this Award in all humility to signify our continuing commitment towards the liberation of our people from any and all systems and structures in our society that would impede their development as befits “creatures made in the image and likeness of God.”
For the many unheralded men and women who chose to cast their lot with the Dacongcogon project, the men and women in government who have immeasurably encouraged us during the trying and difficult days, we accept this Award and extend our thanks to the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation for the honor.