'People of the Year' awardee inspires Noy
- Delon Porcalla () - January 12, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The 23-year-old law student who lost her legs in an explosion outside the De La Salle University last September continues to inspire many, including President Aquino.

Raissa Laurel was one of the 14 “People of the Year” awarded by People Asia Magazine. The President presented her special award Monday night.

“The blast that robbed you of your legs could have defeated a normal person. But instead of giving up, it brought out the best in you,” he told the San Sebastian College of Law student, who went up on the stage in a wheelchair to receive her award.

“Raissa, I am pleased to personally award you this recognition,” Aquino said.

PEOPLE OF THE YEAR 2010: President Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay lead special guests during the much awaited ‘People of the Year’ awards of People Asia magazine at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City. In photo are (from left) People Asia editor-in-chief Joanne Rae Ramirez, awardees broadcaster Mike Enriquez, architect Felino Palafox Jr., furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, fashion designer Rhett Eala, musician Ryan Cayabyab, Fr. Rocky Evangelista, actor Dingdong Dantes, floral architect Rachy Cuna, Angelita Cruz (representing Josie Natori), People Asia chairman Choy Cojuangco, publisher Babe Romualdez, special awardee Raissa Laurel, Raissa’s father Roberto, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Miss Universe 4th runner-up Venus Raj, Philippine Airlines president Jaime Bautista, special awardee Thierry Tea of Eurocopter and People Asia president Kevin Belmonte. FERNAN NEBRES

Vice President Jejomar Binay and members of the diplomatic corps also attended the awards ceremony at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

“Instead of giving up, it (the blast) brought out the best in you. Never did you show the public any hatred or self-pity. You were always determined to overcome the challenge presented to you – with optimism and confidence,” Aquino said.

Laurel was with hundreds of law students from different schools for the traditional salubong for bar examinees at the DLSU when a grenade blast ripped through the crowd, injuring her and several others. The person who threw the grenade remains unidentified.

“The strength you displayed has inspired the entire country. We eagerly await the day you take your oath as a lawyer. We look forward to your continued positive contributions to the country,” Aquino said, calling Laurel a “remarkable individual.”

Aside from Laurel, the other People of the Year awardees were Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Bb. Pilipinas-Universe Venus Raj, musician Ryan Cayabyab, fashion designer Josie Cruz Natori, broadcaster Mike Enriquez, furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, architect Felino Palafox Jr., actor Dingdong Dantes, Philippine Airlines president Jaime Bautista, floral architect Rachy Cuna, fashion designer Rhett Eala, Fr. Rocky Evangelista SDB of the Tuloy Foundation for street children, and special awardee Thierry Tea, president and CEO of Euro-copter Philippines.

Aquino, in his message, called on the awardees to help him build his vision of a better Philippines by excelling in their respective fields of expertise.

“To our People of the Year awardees: Many of our countrymen are counting on you. Be it in the field of broadcasting or fashion, in philanthropy or in entertainment, inside a boxing ring or in the political arena, you must continue to display your dedication and excellence in your fields in order to contribute to their hope of restoring our nation’s dignity and pride,” he said.

Special guests at the ceremony include President Aquino’s sister Pinky Abellada, Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte and stockbroker Len Lopez. FERNAN NEBRES

“The amount of good news that our countrymen have brought to us has been overwhelming, and tonight’s awardees are part of our country’s genuine elite – Filipinos who have shown what we are truly capable of,” he said.

“There is no doubt: we have the potential to excel in any endeavor. We can stand toe to toe with the best this world has to offer,” he pointed out.

“When I step down from office in 2016, I hope to do so with the idea that we have done our jobs – that our countrymen live in a society more prosperous, more peaceful, and more honest compared to what we had in July 2010. With the trust and dedication of our awardees and the Filipino people, we must remain on course, guided by the light of day.”

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