Davao chocolate pioneer is Jaycee awardee
Cacao industry pioneer Charita Puentespina was recently conferred the Leaders & Achievers of Davao (LEAD) Award by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Senate  of Davao at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao last November 21.
Puentespina is known for her pioneering work in kickstarting the orchid and flower industry in the 1980s and and developing the now popular Cacao industry early this decade. 
Other awardees for this year include Mary Ann Montemayor who won under the Tourism category, noted for her work in organizing effective private sector-led initiatives in tourism, while University of Mindanao Chairman Guillermo Torres Jr. was recognized for his efforts in pushing higher education.
LEAD Davao is one of the city’s most prestigious awards.  It seeks to recognize outstanding Dabawenyo leaders and achievers aged 40 and above who best exemplify the JCI Creed.
According to Project Chairman Luciano Frederick Puyod III, Davao’s story of leaders and achievers must be told.  "LEAD is a way for us to tell this story, and hopefully inspires all Dabawenyos especially the youth.  We need not look far for role models or heroes, because as it is they are just here in our city.  We thank them for their inspiring lives and selfless acts of generosity for their fellow Dabawenyos,” he said.
For his part, 2017 JCI Senate Davao President Jesus Mabaquiao said that "the Search program also aimed to draw the much needed inspiration for young citizens to embrace the JCI ideals and empower themselves to become morally upright leaders of the community now and in the future..”
“LEAD is JCI Senate Davao’s  way of conveying the gratitude of the Davao City community to these outstanding citizens. LEAD  also established a high sense of integrity due to the strong support of our board of judges and sponsors,” said Manuel Orig, founder of LEAD.
Previous awardees include Landbank President Alex Buenaventura, musician Joey Ayala, journalist Carolyn Arguillas and Margie Moran Floirendo. (Photo: www.malagoschocolate.com)