Veteran newsman-philanthropist-environmentalist Dacawi laid to rest

BAGUIO CITY – Veteran newsman-philanthropist-environmentalist Ramon “Mondax” Dacawi who succumbed to complications of chronic kidney disease last June 27 was laid to rest Thursday under balmy skies that seemed unsure whether to laugh or cry.
Mourners observed that the weather mirrored the feelings of those whose lives he touched– uncertain on whether to take his passing as a blessing or a tragedy — as while the thought of him now free from all the physical and emotional pains from undergoing dialysis treatments was comforting, one cannot help but bewail the misfortune of losing a great man who had done a lot for the city.
Dacawi, 68, served as division chief of the city public information office for 36 years and brained and birthed several projects and causes that served the plight of the environment, indigent patients, athletes, students and his fellow journalists, among others.
Friends in the media, government, community and other groups including the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center Dialysis Patients and Partners Association and others recalled moments with Mondax – both his greatness and gaffes – in tributes conducted during the wake.
Close friend Juan Dicang said the programs were in celebration of the travails of the media guru who despite the pains and sufferings he bore still called life “beautiful.”
“Brilliant mind, loving heart, wondrous soul,” read a wall tarpaulin displayed in his honor.
Social media threads were also flooded with tributes and testimonies by people on how their lives were touched by the late newsman.
Last Thursday, Coun. Betty Lourdes Tabanda presented Mondax’s surviving family the City Council Resolution No. 181 series of 2019 expressing the city’s commiseration and citing the late PIO’s accomplishments.
Gibraltar barangay led by punong barangay Nemesio Huag also handed over Resolution No. 35 in honor of their late residents’ contributions to the community.
Mondax was known for his integrity, dedication, generosity and compassion, humility and wit and humor.
His tenacity for his causes held on despite his deteriorating health condition.
Months before losing his ability to walk, Mondax pulled off what would be his final act for the environment — he mobilized the teachers and pupils of the Baguio Pines Family Learning Center last February in convincing the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to preserve the tree park instead of selling it for commercial purposes.
In 2017, he started the signature campaign for free dialysis that led to the passage of a House Bill albeit in his sickbed he aired his sentiments that its provisions be improved so that it will be made free for all patients and not for the indigents alone.
Mondax’s journalism focused on environmental and cultural issues in the Cordillera.
He founded the internationally-recognized Eco-Walk children’s environmental awareness and Urban Heritage Walk programs which taught children to love the environment and their cultural and historical heritage.
He led the team that conceptualized the “Walk, Baguio, Walk” and co-founded the Baguio Regreening Movement, a multi-sectoral group serving environmental causes.
He helped establish children’s tree plantations in Tuba, Benguet and in Gonogon, Bontoc, Mtn. Province and worked out a UNDP-supported watershed enhancement project in Northern Sagada.
Dacawi practically pioneered the concept of civic or community journalism in the city by writing on the plight of indigent patients, other people in need and other worthwhile causes that linked the needy with Samaritans and inspired people to respond.
He also for years worked out by coordinating with barangays and folk singers concerts-for-a-cause and fund-raisers for indigent patients.
With the involvement of the Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club which he headed for four terms, he also conducted basic journalism trainings in schools and other organizations.
One of his pet causes since the 1990s had been that of the Cinderella Ladies Football team, so-called for their Cinderella-style victories in the sport, that ruled many tournaments with their fairy godfather’s help.
The Wright Park pony boys atop their horses trailed the hearse that ferried Mondax’s remains to his final resting place at the Baguio cemetery as final salute to their benefactor who for years organized gymkhana or games on horseback for them.
Among his early community projects was the first “Bigasang Bayan” which he initiated during the rice crisis in 1989.
His awards include the “Lingkod Bayan” national Civil Service Commission award as outstanding public servant (2001), Outstanding Citizen of Baguio (2002, in the field of journalism), DENR Regional Environmental Award (1997); and was cited several times by the Midland Courier in its “Nominations of the Year”.
His Eco-Walk won for Baguio the 1996 national “Galing Pook” award from the Asian Institute of Management and the Local Govt. Academy, the Gawad Oscar Florendo Award, and the 2002 Global 500 Award from the United Nations Environment Programme in honor of the Eco-Walk Children.
Mondax also served as director of the Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc. and BENECO Foundation; corporate secretary of the YMCA of Baguio; president of the Association of Govt. Information Officers-Cordillera; adviser of the Wright Park Pony Boys, Pinsao Operators and Drivers Assn.; columnist of the Sunstar Baguio Daily, The Baguio Reporter, Northern Phil. Times; High Plains Journal, baguiocity.com; contributor to the Baguio Midland Courier, The Manila Times; correspondent/stringer – Reuters, Phil. News Agency, People’s Journal, The Gold Ore; columnist of The Manila Times; news and sports editor of the Baguio Midland Courier; editor of The UB Forum; youth director of the Baguio YMCA; regional coordinator of the Phil. Watershed Management Coalition; coordinator of the Pony Boys Day feature of Panagbenga and member of the Baguio Amateur Sports Improvement Council.
Mondax grew up as bootblack, pony boy and newsboy.
He was survived by his wife Rebecca, daughter Veronica, son Johan , daughter-in-law Lovely and grandchildren.** Aileen P. Refuerzo

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