Former Ateneo badminton player Nicole Nieto receives The Diana Award

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
Former Ateneo badminton player Nicole Nieto receives The Diana Award
Former Ateneo badminton player Nicole Nieto, who is also the sister of Mike and Matt Nieto, was the recipient of the Diana Award

MANILA, Philippines — Shawntel Nicole Nieto’s more famous brothers Matt and Mike might make the headlines more because of their exploits on the court for Ateneo and the Philippine men’s basketball team, but the former, who also donned the blue and white jersey in UAAP badminton action, has been feted internationally with the Diana Award by no less than by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex. 

For her exemplary and tireless work during this pandemic in providing Personal Protection Equipment, food and goods, as well as medicine to frontliners and ordinary citizens, Nieto was honored along with several others from all over the globe in a virtual ceremony last June 28 with the Diana Award.

The Diana Award is named after the late Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, and established in 1999 by a board chaired by former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Spencer family as well as Prince William the Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry. 

“When the pandemic started and lockdowns were announced, my family and I knew how big a need there was to support our communities,” related Nieto. “The lockdown was meant to last for only a month but even then, we already knew what a month’s worth of unemployment meant to hundreds of thousands of people both in Cainta and in the Philippines. Thus, we decided to utilize our network in order to bring as much help as we could to Cainta.”

What Nicole, her family and friends carried out through the One Cainta Food Program (OCFP) they organized was to secure an initial donation of 2,000 masks from Gamesville, 50 boxes of snacks from Chocoworld, and 500 pieces of bread from Manila Catering Corporation. 

Since then, the OCFP have been able to coordinate and partner with more than 30 corporations like URC, CDO, Project Smile, Gatorade, and three restaurant chains to distribute 1.1 million goods to about 400,000 people in Cainta as well as in areas in Caloocan, Pinagbuhatan in Pasig, Cogeo, Antipolo, Bulacan, Morong, and Valenzuela to distribute the much-needed support to front liners, hospitals, and the affected communities.

Nieto was nominated the Global Changemakers Association, the Dalai Lama Fellowship, and BMB Solutions. 

The nominee was judged through their impact in five key areas — vision, social impact, inspiring others, youth leadership, and service journey.

Nieto, who is the first Filipino recipient of the Diana Award, dedicated this honor to her late grandfather, who passed away this past February.

“This award is also something I dedicate to my late grandfather, Renato Martinez,” said Nicole. “He passed away last February but was one of the most loving and generous people I, and anyone who knew him, know. This award and everything it stands for is something I dedicate to him. And I hope that by receiving this award, I open the door up for more Filipinos to receive it, too. I know I’m not the only change maker in the country and I look forward to working with and supporting many more Filipino change makers nationwide.”

“Most definitely, I am inspired now more than ever both to continue my work and to grow in my advocacy and leadership. I know that, unlike other awards —  those we receive during school graduations or championship games, this is not the culmination of a job well done but, rather, the start of even bigger roads and journeys ahead.”

Nicole played in the UAAP from 2013-16 won one gold and three silver medals.

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