As a little girl, she dreamed of becoming a flight attendant and travelling around the world.
She grew up, tried ramp modelling and won a beauty pageant. But she found her calling in law enforcement.
Today, 38-year-old Senior Police Officer 1 Ruth Violango sees action as a homicide investigator in Cebu City.
She said she has “no regrets” about her line of work as the only female cop in the homicide section who goes out on field.
Last July 9, Violango was designated team leader of the section. She was promoted to the rank of SPO1 in December last year.
“I took an oath to protect the lives of people,” she said, when asked why she prefers field work.
For a single mother, the work is demanding and sometimes means taking a 24-hour shift.
“If you love your work and you have the passion, it’s quite easy,” she said.
“There’s instant fulfillment if you have helped people. It’s public service. I love to interact with people on the field,” she said.
Her father, Capt. Perfecto Bongo was Mandaue City police chief and her mother was a school teacher.
“My father encouraged me to join police training since I was 21 years old.” she said.
Violango, who stands five feet and eight inches tall, was a first runner up in the Mutya ng Cebu (a beauty contest for Mutya ng Pilipinas) in 1995.
She started ramp modeling in 1992 in department store shows.
In 2000, she joined the Philippine National Police, ending her modeling career.
“My father thanked God because it was his dream come true and an answer to his prayer,” said Violango.
Her father wanted one of his five children to follow his footsteps.
Her eldest brother, a former Air Force officer, went to the United States. Another elder brother, a member of the then Philippine Constabulary, died in an ambush by the New People’s Army in 1987.
Her elder sister is a registered nurse and her younger brother is an engineering student.
“Maybe my father saw a “police character” in me. I look like him,” she said.
Although she did office work in her first assignment as a police officer, she eventually went out on the field.
Today as team leader of one of the three teams of the Homicide Section, she handles investigations and responds to trouble alarms.
Violango said being a “team leader” was a label. What matters is the role of decision making and teamwork, she said.
“Magtinabangay mi, (We help each other).:
One of her most challenging cases was the murder of the wife of Pastor Leonardo Jastiva in 2009. The pastor was accused of faking his spouse’s abduction and killing his wife. The case was dismissed in court for lack of witnesses. Among her big cases that were solved was the murder of Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Ian Osorio in 2009 and the killing of hotelier Manuel Ting in 2010.
Violango earned her Psychology degree at the Southwestern University in 1996 and her criminology degree at the Salazar Institute of Technology (SIT) in 2009.
After 5-month college internship in an airline, she was encouraged to sign up as a flight attendant but she didn’t pursue it.
She took the Civil Service Exams for PO1 last 1997 and joined the police training in the Regional Training School (RTS) in barangay Apas, Cebu City last 1999.
Before joining the police force, she worked as telephone operator, a front desk attendant of a hotel, a sales assistant and a food attendant of a fast food chain.
She finished her police training in 2000 and was assigned to the Mandaue City Police Office where she did desk work compiling crime statistics before joining the Special Weapons and Tactics team.
In 2003, she was transferred to the Talisay Police Precinct. In 2007, she was one of the police officers, who applied and got accepted as a member of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Kosovo and southeastern Europe. Her stint there lasted until 2008.
In Kosovo, she was assigned in the “war crimes investigation unit”.
“We handled cold cases. We conducted follow ups. Most of the suspects are from the civil war,” Violango recalled.
She said it was a challenge interviewing witnesses who spoke Serbian and Albanian lanaguages, for which she leaned on interpreters.
Her psy chology degree was used to full advantage, she said.
“We should not judge people right away. We need to be open to both sides of a story. There’s always a reason a crime happens,” said Violango.
To other female law enforcers who want to rise from the ranks, Violango gave this advice: “Don’t be a stereotype. Don’t limit yourself. We are all equal and went through the same police training.” /Rhea Ruth V. Rosell, Reporter