Issue of September 9, 2018
Mt. Province

71th Courier Anniversary Issue
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‘Most outstanding sekyu’ back to post more inspired
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

EXTRAORDINARY -- Longtime security guard Guillermo Cortes, who is widely known for his honesty and being courteous to customers, could be the first security guard to have been conferred the Outstanding Citizen of Baguio award. Here, Cortes is presented by Baguio officials led by Rep. Mark Go and Mayor Mauricio Domogan and BIR Commissioner Ceasar Dulay, who was the guest of honor and speaker during the 109th Charter Day celebrations at the University of the Cordilleras gym on Sept. 1. -- Ofelia Empian

A few days after Baguio Day, the limelight continues to shine on the life of Guillermo B. Cortes as a security guard of a fast food chain at the foot of the Baguio City Hall, which, to some extent he finds odd and embarrassing. Still wearing his usual uniform, smile, and ready helping hands, Cortes is spotted busily dishing out and wiping clean some dining tables, and promptly returning to his post to greet customers entering and heading out the establishment without missing a beat, oblivious to his effect on people around him. 

Diners cannot help noticing and be struck by how he works. One of them, who caught this Courier staff discreetly observing him, approached and said, “Napansin ko rin siya, kanina ko pa tinitingnan. Bakit ba siya ang nagliligpit ng kinainan? Sa iba, walang paki(alam) ang mga guard, nakatayo lang sa pintuan. Kaya na-touch ako. Dapat ‘yan may award.”

Upon learning that she has just seen one of Baguio’s Outstanding Citizens of 2018 in action and who just got recognized last Sept. 1, pride was clear on the face of the woman, a tourist from Talavera, Nueva Ecija. She didn’t have an idea, but was proud for having spotted right on an outstanding service beyond duty.

Not used to getting attention, Cortes, known as “Mang Gemo,” shared that he does not see anything outstanding in the way he works, which include his trademark courteous and mood-lifting greetings that have been the very first thing that endeared him to customers and the public. The only times he would seek others’ attention are when running to return personal belongings to leaving owners, or getting the attention of his superiors when he found lost items and wanted them returned.

For Mang Gemo, it is the natural thing to do for one like him whose parents had nothing material to pass on their children, but the value of honesty and good intentions in everything he does.

“’Yung mother ko noon, sabi nya, maski gaano tayo kahirap, honesty ang kailangan. ‘Yung hindi sa inyo, ibalik ninyo,” he recalled.

Napakabait ng mother ko at ng father ko. Kaya kahit sa maliit na paraan, sinikap kong maging masaya sila. Para sa kanila, hindi pera ang tanging makapagpapasaya sa magulang, kundi ang kabutihan at pag-aalala ng anak sa magulang. Masaya ako na umalis sila sa mundo na nagampanan ko ang pasayahin sila.”

Mang Gemo said he didn’t have any inkling there was such thing as Outstanding Citizens of Baguio search, much less that he was being nominated to be one of them this year.

When his employers asked him to furnish them some documents early this year, he complied thinking that those were needed to complete his employment record. It was only a few weeks into the announcement of the chosen outstanding individuals, when he was asked to get clearances and additional requisites, did he realize that his name and profile were submitted to the Society of Outstanding Citizens of Baguio secretariat as a candidate and a possible awardee.

Nagpapasalamat ako, sa employer ko, at sa Baguio people, na nakakita at nani-niwala na outstanding tayo. Ginagawa ko lang ang trabaho ko,” Mang Gemosaid.

He said his recent stature has not changed a thing about him. He will continue working as before, but if there is one thing that being an Outstanding Citizen gives to him is working harder to be an inspiration for his colleagues in the security force and to the Baguio community as well.

“Tuluy-tuloy pa rin sa trabaho hanggang kaya ko pa at habang malakas pa. Dodoblehin ko pa ang ginagawa ko, doble tiyaga. Ipapakita ko pa rin ‘yung dating ginagawa ko. Sa akin, parang experiment lang ako ng Diyos at ng mga magulang ko na silang gumabay sa akin at sa aking pagkatao. Parang picture ng kung paano puwedeng maging inspirasyon sa kapwa, kahit katulad ko na security guard,” Mang Gemo said.

He added that the award should also go to his employers and other workers in the different departments of his workplace. “Kung wala sila wala ako.”

Before becoming an Outstanding Baguio Citizen, Cortes in 1991 was commended for apprehending a snatcher inside his post at the Maharlika Complex. In 1992, he found and returned a lost wallet in two separate occasions, returned an umbrella, and returned a bag containing P1 million under adverse circumstances and beyond the call of duty.

In 1993, Mang Gemo assisted a very tired and troubled Bishop Felix Bentayen in locating the business address of his friend who transferred in the building where he was posted.

In 1994, he was recognized for ensuring that the stalls in his post at the Maharlika Complex that were left open by the lessee were safe and intact.

His honesty and dedication to work didn’t not escape the viral thread effect of the social media, when he received a plaque of recognition from the Baguio City People Online Community for his distinguished and meritorious service to the people of Baguio City.

In 2013, Mang Gemo received a certificate of recognition from McDonald’s Baguio-Benguet for his outstanding dedication, commitment, and sense of ownership to the company and while at work.

The chairman of the same company personally acknowledged him for being its most outstanding security guard in 2017.

For his deeds, Mang Gemo, who started working as a security guard in 1978, has become well-known as the “most courteous security guard” and a source of pride and honor for the business establishments he has worked for, the latest of which was responsible in nominating him to this year’s Outstanding Citizens search.

To improve his work, he attended and completed several seminars connected to his work, among which is the basic security supervisory course by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; firearms familiarization and gun safety; training and seminar on the role of law enforcers in nation building; human rights seminar; fire prevention; social security; labor education seminar; and passed the in-service training examination with an average score of 92 percent given by the Police Regional Office-Cordillera.

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