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Feature: First woman firefighter in Siquijor

Siquijor (14 February) -- Some consider firefighting fires as a only man's job but this tough woman has proven it wrong.

For over two decades now, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Siquijor province is working hard to save the lives and properties of Siqujodnons. These firefighters were composed of brave men - ever willing to risk their lives just to help others.

But recently, a woman has added the force - "the first woman firefighter in the province," says the BFP here.

She was once a news reporter, a teacher, a sports woman and a mother. Now she is a fearless fire fighter. When asked why she joined the fire service, she has this reply: "equal opportunity, heroism, women must work to make their roles known, fighting for equal recognitionů' and then she added, "it's a great job, it feels good to help people when they really need you."

She is Zylbeth Yapsangco Cortes. Zylbeth is the youngest daughter among the three children of Emerson Vergara Yapsangco Sr. and Zenaida Tan Ymalay of Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros. She graduated with the Bachelor's Degree of Mass Communication in a prestigious school in Dumaguete City, the Silliman University last 2001. A year after, she decided to tie her knot with Gregster Bolongon Cortes, the young and active municipal engineer of the local government unit of Siquijor.

She describes herself as an adventurous woman seeking for more to become productive as ever as she wanted to satisfy herself and to prove that women in this new generation has a lot to offer with life's challenges especially in working with a man's job like firefighting.

Some consider firefighting fires as only a man's job, but Zylbeth has proven that women can work just as hard, as patriotically and in just as dedicated a manner as men. She even excelled to the point where they named her one of the trusted President, team leader and commander during her basic course training wherein she was awarded for her outstanding performance both in academic and non-academic subjects as second placer during the orientation course. She has also received the Fire National Training Institute Director Leadership Award for having demonstrated leadership qualities and skills and meritorious performance. To take note, she was the only female to receive such award among 168 fire trainees. No wonder that she survived such militaristic-like training, with her athletic built, plus her being strong-minded with her quick-witted ability.

At 26, Zylbeth belongs to the new breed of firefighters today, a worthy tri-skilled professional firefighter trained not just to suppress and prevent fire but to other duties and responsibilities as medical first responder and rescue service provider.

Though it was tough for her, being a mother of two when she left her family, her little kids, Ashly and Alexis, she fought the so called homesickness for her new found profession. But the satisfaction and the respect she earned is more than enough to prove that she is happy with her profession.

With her background as a journalist, she is oftentimes requested to be a speaker, a host, a reader in schools, in the BFP activities, and in church. She also shared her knowledge and skills in writing that served as an inspiration to her fellows as a writer for the St. Florian magazine, the official semi-annual publication of BFP, region 7.

Luckily enough, Zylbeth returns to the island of Siquijor with pride and dignity. The first-ever woman firefighter in the province. She is presently assigned at the Siquijor Fire Station designated as Administrative Assistant and at the same time the Public fire Education Officer.

Meanwhile, in a related development, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lauded recently the gallant men and women of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for their bravery and selfless dedication to duty, law enforcement and preservation of the country's democratic ideals and institutions.

In her speech keynoting the PNP's 17th anniversary celebration at Camp Crame in Quezon City this morning, the President said that thanks to the PNP, "we have been meeting with success in the fight to put an end to the legacy of (crime) and political violence."

"With the priority you have given to that legacy, we will continue to bring perpetrators to justice, jail criminals, and exhort the nation to leave its terrible legacy of political violence," the President said.

In his welcome remarks, PNP Director General Avelino Razon Jr. said that in 2007, the PNP registered a 83 percent drop in political killings, a 7.42 percent decline in the total crime volume of 71,226 to 65,994; a 22 percent drop in street crimes, a 50 percent decrease in kidnap-for-ransom cases, and a 9 percent reduction in drug-related cases.

"For the period (2007), we posted a crime solution efficiency of 88.37 percent," Razon said.

The President also lauded the PNP for various projects and programs it has initiated to improve police visibility and integration in the community.

"Congratulations for your neighborhood partnership program which was cited by the United Nations Agency for Asia and Far East Institute for Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders as a model community-participation in crime prevention," she said.

"That institute also noted the PNP's achievements against the trafficking of persons, particularly child sexual exploitations," she added.

The President said these lofty achievements clearly showed that the PNP had "devoted themselves to the protection of human rights, not only in the political sphere but in the sphere of women and children's welfare." (PIA) [top]

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