Aquino confers awards on 33 outstanding Pinoys

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - World-class singer and Broadway actress Lea Salonga was among 33 gifted and talented Filipinos and organizations who have made a significant mark in the international community, and were thus conferred awards by President Aquino.

“You have come a very long way in your 21 years,” he told Salonga before he delivered his speech yesterday at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang Palace. Upon learning that she will perform, Aquino felt they were very “fortunate.”

“Who wouldn’t want to hear Lea sing?” he asked.

Salonga sang “Tagumpay nating Lahat” before the crowd of her fellow recipients for the 2014 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas. Aquino was introduced by Secretary Imelda Nicolas of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

Among the other fellow 20 Pamana ng Pilipino awardees were composer Robert Lopez of Walt Disney’s hit song “Frozen, and investigative journalist Sheila Coronel, now dean of the Columbia University in New York. Coronel was represented by her sister Miriam Ferrer, the government’s chief negotiator with the Muslim rebels. 

Other awardees: 

World-renowned classical musician Cecile Licad, dubbed as the “pianist’s pianist”; Cristeta Comerford, the first Asian and woman executive chef of the US White House; United Arab Emirates-based fashion designer Michael Cinco.

Jasmine Lee, the first Filipina and foreign-born citizen to be elected in the National Assembly of South Korea; William Dar, a champion of horticulture and first Filipino to serve as director general of International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in India.  

Katherine Luzuriaga, a pediatric immunologist who was part of the team that cured an infant with HIV in the US; Paolo Antonio Silva, an ophthalmologist who made pioneering contributions in retina research in the US.

Roderick de la Cruz, a southern California Edison senior engineer who shares his expertise in the field of dam safety to the Philippines; Kristoffer Collo, founder of MicroPact, a leading IT company in the US.

Baldomero Olivera, a chemist and distinguished biology professor at the University of Utah; Marianito Asperilla, an infectious disease specialist who introduced the multi-county bioterrorism response group to deal with the threat of bioterrorism in the US. 

Filomenita Hoegsholm, a gender equality advocate in Europe and one of the founders of the Babaylan-Denmark, a non-profit organization that works on political, cultural-educational and social causes to improve the situation of Filipinas in Denmark. Jonathan Irabagon, an award-winning saxophonist who was named one of the New York City jazz icons; Sheila Lirio-Marcelo, founder of Care.com, one of the largest online care services in the US, and advocate of women empowerment.  

Alfredo Roces, versatile artist, anthropologist, historian, essayist and photographer based in Australia; Lolita Valderama-Savage, a painter whose works were exhibited in the US, Europe and Asia; and internationally acclaimed painter Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi in France.

 Four organizations were also conferred as Kaanib ng Bayan who were feted for their significant contribution to Philippine society.

These were the Israel-based American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization, and who also donated funds to victims of super typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.

 Wako Asato, a Japanese expert in the field of Philippine migration research, who extended scholarship grants to underprivileged college students in central Visayas.  

 Humana Child Aid Society in the US, an independent NGO operating in plantation schools in remote areas, catering to the basic educational needs of thousands of stateless children, many of them of Filipino ancestry.   

Dominiek Segaert, a Belgian educator who initiated fundraising activities for the improvement of the quality of secondary education in Davao de Sur.

There was also a lone Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino (Linkapil) awardee in the person of Serenata in Saudi Arabia, a children’s choir and string chamber orchestra that supports the education of less fortunate students in the Philippines.

There were also eight Banaag awardees, among them the Daegu Filipino Community Council in South Korea, a non-profit organization that promotes the welfare of Filipino migrants in Daegu.  

United Kingdom-based Danilo Favor, a registered nurse and the first elected Filipino councilor in East Grinstead, who initiated several health-related charitable programs that have benefited the Filipino community.  

Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers Central Region Chapter in Saudi Arabia, a professional organization committed in the development of Filipino migrant electrical engineers in Saudi Arabia.

Rosa Angelica Libron in South Korea, a nun who was instrumental in the establishment of Filipino-Korean community in Guri City, and provides assistance to distressed OFWs in South Korea.  

Augusto Mercado, a founder of wireless engineering business enterprise Datalogix and a community leader in Texas who assists distressed overseas Filipino workers.

Migrant Heritage Commission, a non-profit service oriented organization providing pro-bono services in protecting and advancing human rights of migrants and their families in the US.  

Victoria Navarro, a former president of the Philippine Nurses Association of America who has always been supportive of Filipino nurses there.  

Anita Sasaki in Japan, a Filipino community leader who established ‘Tahanan ni Nanay,’ a halfway house for overseas Filipino workers in distress and a learning center for Filipino-Japanese children. 

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