MANILA – Thirty-three distinguished and outstanding overseas Filipinos and foreign-based organizations from 12 countries were honored December 5 by President Benigno s. Aquino during the Awarding Ceremonies for the 2014 Presidential Awards held at the Malacañan Palace.
“I congratulate the Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino, Kaanib ng Bayan, Banaag and Pamana ng Pilipino Awardees for their efforts to better the conditions of our kababayans here in the Philippines and abroad, and representing the Filipino talent and industry in their adoptive homelands,” President Aquino said.
Institutionalized in 1991 through Executive Order No. 498, the Presidential Awards is a biennial search for overseas-based individuals and organizations which have dedicated their work in the service and improvement of lives of Filipinos worldwide, selflessly supported relief, rehabilitation and development programs in the home country, or who have excelled in their field or profession.
The awardees were thoroughly screened from a total of 157 nominations from 29 countries by three different committees with representatives from the government, civil society, media, academe, religious and business sectors, and finally the President of the Philippines. The Presidential Awards has four categories – Kaanib ng Bayan Award, Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino Award, Banaag Award, and Pamana ng Pilipino Award.
In his speech, President Aquino expressed his gratitude to the awardees, noting that although they are based overseas, they have contributed to nation building.
“While the awards you receive today are symbols of your success, I am hopeful that you also treat them as invitations: to continue your pursuit of excellence, and the way you bring pride and honor to our country,” he said.
“Let us continue doing our very best to fulfill our individual roles in nation building. We have changed the way the world sees us, and we must build on this; we must ride our current momentum and show the world that the excellence of the Filipino knows no bounds.”
In the Banaag category, which is conferred on Filipino individuals or associations for their contributions which have significantly benefited a sector or advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities, the recipients were Augusto I. Mercado, Migrant Heritage Commission and Victoria B. Navarro.
- Augusto I. Mercado is the founder of the wireless engineering business enterprise, Datalogix and a Filipino-community leader in Texas who assists distressed Filipino migrants
- Migrant Heritage Commission is a non-profit service oriented organization based in Virginia provides pro-bono services in protecting and advancing human rights of migrants and their families in the US, and supports charitable projects of several Filipino-American groups in the Philippines; and
- Victoria B. Navarro, a former President of the Philippine Nurses Association of America, who was supportive in advancing the cause of Filipino nurses in the US, and for their philanthropic activities in the Philippines. Currently, she is the Co-Director of the Philippine Humanitarian Coalition.
In the Pamana ng Pilipino category, 14 individuals from the U.S. were recipients out of 20 awardees from other countries. This award is conferred on Filipinos overseas, who, in exemplifying the talent and industry of the Filipino, have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession.The recipients were:
- Marianito O. Asperilla –an infectious disease specialist who introduced the multi-county bioterrorism response group to deal with the threat of bioterrorism in the US.
- Kristoffer L. Collo – founder of MicroPact, a leading information technology company in the US specializing in the development of case management and business process management software.
- Cristeta Comerford – the first Asian and woman executive chef of the US White House, serving Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.
- Sheila S. Coronel – a veteran investigative journalist who serves as the Director of the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, and Dean of Academic Affairs of the Columbia University.
- Roderick M. Dela Cruz – a Southern California Edison senior engineer who shares his expertise in the field of dam safety to the Philippines.
- Jonathan D. Irabagon – an award-winning saxophonist who was named one of the New York City jazz icons.
- Cecile B. Licad – a world renowned classical musician dubbed as”a pianist’s pianist”.
- Sheila Lirio-Marcelo – founder of the Care.com, one of the largest online care services in the US, and advocate of women empowerment.
- Robert Lopez – composer of the hits songs from Walt Disney’s “Frozen” and the first Filipino EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) awardee.
- Katherine R. Luzuriaga– a pediatric immunologist, who was part of the team that cured an infant with HIV in the US.
- Baldomero M. Olivera – a chemist and distinguished professor of Biology at the University of Utah, who made ground-breaking research in cone nail toxins which is important for neuroscience.
- Lea Salonga – a famed international singer, voice talent and Broadway theater actress, who exemplified the musical talent and ingenuity of Filipino.
- Lolita Valderrama-Savage – a painter whose artworks were internationally exhibited in the US, Europe, and Asia.
- Paolo Antonio S. Silva – an ophthalmologist who made pioneering contributions in retina research in the US and helped establish the first telemedicine program for diabetic eye disease in the Philippines.
- The Presidential Awards is spearheaded by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, an agency under the Office of the President tasked to promote and uphold the interests, rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos, as well as to maintain strong and mutually beneficial ties between overseas Filipinos throughout the world and the motherland.
“In observance of the Month of Overseas Filipinos this December, we congratulate and pay tribute to this year’s recipients of the 2014 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas,” said Sec. Imelda M. Nicolas, Chairperson of Commission on Filipinos Overseas. “Because they embody the best that a global Filipino can be, we salute them for their commendable efforts, exceptional professional accomplishments, and civic and humanitarian involvements that have contributed to the advancement of the adopted countries they serve, and the home country we love.”