Skills Competition Brought Out the Best in Tagum City’s Finest Welders

The announcement was posted by the DOST XI in their website on April 10, 2018.  It was followed by a post in DOST XI’s Facebook page on April 11, 2018.  Also, the DOST XI went full force in sending out invitations to schools and enterprises.  Through the wide reach of social media and DOST XI’s assertive promotions, word about the upcoming Welding Skills Competition spread and reached target participants not only in Tagum, but in nearby areas as well. 

The male and female categories were opened to interested applicants, but the announcement stated very clearly that only six (6) participants will be enlisted for each category.  Many interested parties sent their application but most of them, unfortunately due to the limited slots, did not make it to the final list. 

Up until the present time, welding is a male-dominated field.  It is no surprise that a lot of males responded to the invitation for participants to the Welding Skills Competition.   Making it to the final list of contestants are: (1) Ruel C. Navales, 26 years old, from Tagum City; (2) Rovelon C. Salga, 44 years old, from Tagum City; (3) Cornelio A. Ruz, Jr., 34 years old, from San Isidro, Davao del Norte; (4) Dennis O. Orcullo, 35 years old, from Tagum City; (5) Bernie B. Galupo, 28 years old, from Tagum City; and (6) John Mar P. Siodora, 31 years old, from Compostela Valley.    

On the day of the Skills Competition, the New City Hall of Tagum City was abuzz with activities for the much-awaited event.

males 1 males 2 males 3

Mr. Fernando Opeda, Executive Director of the Philippine Welding Society (PWS), gives an orientation to the participants outside the lobby of Tagum New City Hall a few minutes before the competition proper.   

males 4 males close up males 6

The gentlemen in action at the Welding Skills Competition.

males 5 males 7 males 8

The audience watch eagerly as the contestants work on the task at hand.

What made the Welding Skills Competition in Tagum City very interesting is the response of female welders.  It turned out that welding in this part of the country is not only for the males, but is also a career loved by females as well.  Interesting as their being welders are their unique stories of why they joined the contest.

all females

Group photo before the female welders don their PPEs for the Welding Skills Competition. (L to R) Engr. Reynaldo L. dela Cruz, Jr., Chief of the DOST-MIRDC’s Industrial Training Section and President of the Philippine Welding Society (PWS); Liezyl Darilay; Minnie Ellivera; Ruth Cheel Tulo; Nely Siarot; Helen Dal; Mary Jean Dumalag; and Mr. Fernando Openda, Executive Director of the PWS.

Meet the six participants in the female category of the Welding Skills Competition:

mary jean dumalag

Mary Jean V. Dumalag, 40 y/o

minnie ellivera

Minnie P. Ellivera, 40 y/o

helen dal

Helen L. Dal, 31 y/o

liezyl darilay

Liezyl L. Darilay, 32 y/o

ruth cheel tulo

Ruth Cheel B. Tulo, 30 y/o

nely siarot

Nely M. Siarot, 30 y/o

All six participants heard about the Welding Skills Competition through the schools where they are working as welding trainers and assessors, except for Helen who is currently employed in a private welding shop in Compostela Valley.  A friend informed Helen about the announcement posted in fb, and encouraged her to join.  Jean, Minnie, Liezyl, and Nely registered immediately after hearing about the announcement.  When she registered, Ruth Cheel did not make it because all slots were filled up.  She decided to be at the competition venue anyway to cheer for Mary Jean, who is a colleague at work.   

They all love welding.  Helen used to consider it as a pastime only, but later learned to really love the practice of welding.  Her welding skills are well-known in their neighborhood.  Welding is her way of realizing the dream of her father.  It is her bread and butter, and working as a welder enables her to support her five (5) children.  Mary Jean is a welding trainer/assessor.  She says she is fond of doing work that are typically for the males.  She is really looking for a skills competition to join in, because she wants to experience how it is to join a contest.  Nely says she came from the garments industry, but later shifted to welding.  ‘Mahal na mahal ko ang welding,’ according to her.  She is really interested to learn and improve her welding skills.  Minnie traveled from Davao City to Tagum City to personally submit her application.  Joining is her way of leveling up her skills in welding.  She says the messages of encouragement posted on social media is enough recognition and makes her feel very proud to be in this profession.  Ruth Cheel was at the venue to support Mary Jean.  It was only on the morning of April 27, the Skills Competition proper, that she was told that she was one of the competitors because one participant backed out at the last minute.  Liezyl is a daughter of a welder.  As a young child, she would always watch her father while he was working.  She got interested but her father would tell her not to come near because she might get hurt.  She seems to be the only child interested in what her father was doing.  When he passed away, all the welding equipment were left unused in their home.  That is when she decided to learn how to weld and to finally do what she has always dreamed of doing.     

The competition proper for the female category started in the morning of Friday, April 27.  It was over after an hour and a half.  The male category was next.  It was completed a little after lunch time.  The announcement of winners was done during the Closing Ceremonies, which started at 2 pm.

female winner male winner

Ruth Cheel and John Mar are declared grand winners of the female and male categories, respectively.  Prior to the competition, both were asked what they think are the advantages should they win.  Ruth Cheel said that it is not about winning.  To her, joining the competition is the best way of improving her craft and encouraging her students to also keep learning and improving.  John Mar, on the other hand, is an NC II certificate holder already, and aspires to earn another certification.  To him, winning is his chance to earn another certificate in welding. 

Appreciation and recognition of one’s skills open limitless possibilities.  Ruth Cheel and John Mar earned the S&T community of Tagum’s respect and admiration.  The applause of the crowd when their names were announced as winners may have lasted for a few minutes only, but the boost in confidence, affirmation of their abilities in the practice of welding, and the passion to improve the craft and further influence other people to keep on aiming higher will surely go a long way.