SEOUL (July 1) — In recognition of their dedication to family and contribution to creating a more open Korean society, the Korea Exchange Bank acknowledged three Filipinos who won top prizes in the 1st Global Family Award it sponsored.
Vilma Montanegro received the Grand Prize for Model Family, while Young-mi “Maritess” Lee and Narlita Quinal were respectively declared runners-up in the Model Family and Filial Piety categories during an awarding ceremony held at the bank headquarters on June 24.
The awards recognize the increasing role of multicultural families in South Korea where the number of interracial marriages has steadily increased over the years. Official figures estimate that more than 120,000 such marriages took place last year alone.
The award also aims to promote interest in multicultural families and cultural diversity, bank officials said.
The 16 winners, who were foreign women married to Korean nationals, were chosen based on their dedication to family, length of stay in Korea and activeness in social work.
Montanegro married into a poor farming family ten years ago. Despite the challenges of taking care of her elderly mother-in-law and disabled sister-in-law, she gained the admiration of her neighbors because of her positive outlook. She received the “Smile Award” from her local government and has been featured in various media outlets promoting multiculturalism.
Lee and Quinal, meanwhile, encountered similar challenges. Overcoming cultural and language barriers, their respective communities regarded them as role models for their unwavering dedication to family.
More than 59,000 Filipinos currently live in South Korea, approximately 8% of whom are married to Korean nationals.
The Korea Exchange Bank is one of the largest banks in South Korea.