Good man’s reward no money can buy

 Florante Marmolejo Catanus, 54, rode the crest of popularity to win the coveted Bagong Bayani Award for Social and Community Service in 2018.

His popularity was anchored on solid achievements based on competence, public service, and faith in God.

Saudi Arabia has been tolerant of religious practice so, in most cases, it  allows Christians’ expression of devotion by attending masses and saying prayers at home and in private places.

But Florante; his wife, the former Analiza Magno; and three sons have been discreet in their religious practice by attending mass in Dhahran.

The couple were members of the choir in the early 2000s. “I have been involved with the church since I was seven, as an altar boy,” Florante said.

He drew solace from his father Loreto death when he was in Grade V by being close to God.

His mother Esperanza followed her husband to the Great Beyond when Florante was about to graduate from college. Florante’s parents were both teachers.

 After his father’s passing, an aunt took Florante to Jaro, Iloilo City. Florante became an altar boy at the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral. He also joined the choir because of his good singing voice, performing inspirational songs on various occasions.

Florante was also a guitarist and was involved in Bible reading and giving out the communion  bread as a layperson. With his activities outside the school, he has not gone astray.

He studied at  the Jaro Elementary School, Jaro National High School and  Colegio de San Jose (CSJ)  in Jaro, Iloilo City, graduating Cum Laude with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Commerce major in Accounting in 1989. CSJ is run by the Daughters of Charity, a congregation of nuns who devote their lives to serving the poorest and most abandoned individuals in society.

In college, Florante  joined  the outreach programs of the CSJ,  like jail visits and community service in adopted poor barangay in various places.  

At present, he is pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree at the Far Eastern University Roosevelt through distant learning.

Before trying his luck overseas, he was an accounting supervisor at the Weekly Graphic Magazine for one and a half years, starting in 1990.

In 1992, he left the country to try his luck overseas. He worked in Jeddah for four years. In one of his annual vacations in the Philippines, he visited his former school and met Analiza Magno, a college faculty member teaching Music, Art, Physical Education, and Health (MAPEH).

 Analiza studied at the West Visayas State University in La Paz, Iloilo City, where she was a varsity tennis team member. After a three-year long distance relationship, they tied the knot and have been blessed with three sons: Rolf Azil, 22; Nikos Fluiz, 18; and Ranzil Emir, 14.

 Asked up to when the family would stay in the Kingdom, Florante said, ”We’re just waiting for the youngest to be ready for college.”

 If and when he and his family decide leave the Kingdom for good, Filipino old-timers in the country will remember him, his voice reverberating on the air, as he reported through The Filipino Channel (TFC) on overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia.

 He will also be remembered as active in the Filipino community as president of the All Filipino Community and Sports Commission (AFCSCOM), an umbrella organization in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia, giving something of himself and time for the benefit of others. His assistance has been sought for various purposes by the needy, students and the less fortunate.

 It goes without saying that he has been rewarded with a good family, unadulterated friendship, and self-fulfillment that money cannot buy!

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