I am one of those who were privileged and HONORED to have worked with Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, a brilliant development worker, a hardworking civil servant, a beautiful person inside and out, and a very good friend. I am sharing this post by BTC Commissioner Atty. Maisara Damdamun Latiph who was DepED ARMM Undersecretary when Assemblywoman Samira and her team that included me was hearing the ARMM Education Act because I can feel Samira. It is never my intention to start a debate or discussion with her bashers and those who despise, dislike, and laugh at her for her appearance in Congress' joint session on July 22. Just like Atty. Mai, I am sharing this because I know grey colored items to wear of the prom Samira Gutoc-Tomawis , she means well.
FROM BTC COMMISSIONER ATTY. MAISARA DAMDAMUN LATIPH:
I have known Samira since College (more than two decades). I also know her parents: soft spoken, humble and kind the late former Ambassador Candidato Gutoc ( I miss Amba already) and her business tiger mom Dra. Tomanina Ali Gutoc (thank you for teaching me the value of frugality). They raised Sam to be a humble, caring and excellent human being who loves learning and helping.
She is the eldest of their family who are all professionals, lawyer, doctor, businesswoman and banker. She could have easily been a lawyer but opted to be a journalist where her heart lies. They were raised in a family where excellence and service to the people were the core values.
I remember Sam telling me that her mother is a strict disciplinarian who taught her to study hard (she graduated Valedictorian) and her father a diplomat who was self-made man who has earned so much respect amongst the Muslim community for his services. Despite their relatively high status in life Sam attended to the needs of our communities in Quiapo, Culiat, Taguig, National Penitentiary (Bilibid) and lately Marawi where she settled 15 years ago to fully serve and help build a better society for us and all in her capacity as volunteer.
Sam, as we fondly call her grew up abroad. Her English was impeccable, and her leadership was unsurpassable. Since our youth she never gets tired of advocating for our rights as minority, several youth organisations (MYSA, YMPN) and publications (Arellano Law Gazette, Suara Kabataan) owe their existence and creation because of her. Wherever she goes and whatever she does, she gave everything leaving nothing for her own. She is perhaps one of the most selfless human being I have ever known and for this I will forever be grateful to Allah swt for our friendship.
For her outstanding public service, she was awarded a TOYM which is a rarity for us. She was awarded a Chevening Fellowship Award in Oxford for Journalism by the British Embassy (her paper was on preventing Terrorism and Violent Extremism in 2006) . She was appointed ARMM Sectoral Assemblywoman for her work on women. She worked untiringly as full time volunteer in Marawi for Kazalimbago Movement a multi-sectoral organisation dedicated to improving the peace and order in Lanao. For her peace work , she was nominated and appointed lately to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). I can go on about all her achievements but this space is not enough.
If there is anything that stands out the most its her ability to make leaders of us all. Almost all our young leaders who are now excelling in their fields where somehow influenced or inspired by Sam. For me, this is the hallmark of leadership, when you inspire others to be a leader themselves.
It really pains me when Sam gets hurt by unfounded words from others, yes we may have had our differences but we remain the best of friends nay sisters even. So, please for those who do not know Sam, I hope you spend sometime with her by then you will truly know how it feels like to have your spirit uplifted by a person, and hopefully one day you too may be inspired to become a person who works hard for the betterment of others.