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President Aquino Awards 29 Overseas Filipinos and Friends

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President Benigno S. Aquino III will honor 29 distinguished overseas Filipino individuals, organizations and friends at the Awarding Ceremonies in Malacanan on December 5, 2012.

The tradition of searching for exemplary achievers who have shown excellence in their professions and active involvement in support services for Filipino communities worldwide was initiated by former President Corazon C. Aquino. Since 1991, this biennial recognition has been conferred on 338 awardees from 44 countries and serves to highlight the celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos in December.

The 2012 roster includes distinguished personalities and organizations vetted by their respective Philippine diplomatic posts. After being successively reviewed by three committees composed of representatives from the government, civil society, media, academe, religious, and business sectors -- the final list was submitted to the President of the Philippines for his approval.

Pamana ng Pilipino Awardees: (11)

The Pamana ng Pilipino awardees are Filipino individuals overseas who have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession.

  • Engr. Mary Jane A. Al-Mahdi is the CEO of the Geoscience Testing Laboratory of the United Arab Emirates, the biggest independent testing laboratory operating in the Middle East.
  • Dr. Delia R. Amaya is a food technology expert and retired professor of the University of Campinas, Brazil.
  • Dr. Samuel Bernal is director of GlobeTekPro, a science foundation based in the Czech Republic and the United States, and a noted cancer specialist and lawyer who pioneered in stem cell research.
  • Dr. Antonio Fernando III is an expert in the field of sleep medicine and professor of psychiatry at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Ms. Almira Astudillo Gilles is an award-winning writer of children’s books in Chicago.
  • Ms. Dianne Monique Lhuillier is a leading bridal couturier and fashion designer in Los Angeles.
  • Mr. Allan “” Pineda is the hip-hop icon of the famous Black Eyed Peas Group from Los Angeles.
  • Dr. Ruth Elynia S. Mabanglo, is a leading proponent of Filipino as a global language and professor of Filipino language and culture at the University of Hawaii.
  • Mr. Jorge Z. Ortoll is the Executive Director of Ma-Yi Theater, a premier vehicle for showcasing Asian-American talent and a nurturing ground of Filipino-American artists in New York.
  • Mr. Eric C. Spoelstra is the first Filipino-American head coach of the Miami Heat who won the 2012 US National Basketball Association championship.
  • Dr. Francisca Tolete-Velcek is a multi-awarded and notable pediatric surgeon in New York.

Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino Awardees (3)

Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino awardees are Filipino individuals and organizations overseas who are honored for their exceptional or significant contribution to the progress and development in the Philippines.

  • Dr. Manuel A. Cacdac is a Boston-based neuro-surgeon who treats disadvantaged Filipino children afflicted with hydrocephalus and cranio-facial defects.

  • Dr. Christopher M. Guerrero is a Chicago-based physician who regularly returns to his home-province to attend to the health needs and professional development of fellow Nueva Vizcayans.

  • The Aguman Kapampangan UK is an organization of London-based Filipinos from Pampanga who creatively combines fun socials, a philanthropic spirit and heritage appreciation

  • Banaag Awardees (13)

Banaag awardees are Filipino individuals or associations overseas who are honored for their contributions towards the promotion and advancement of the interests of overseas Filipino communities or sectors.

  • Engr. Carlito E. Alpay is a mechanical engineer who advocated for the conduct of Philippine professional licensure examinations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • Atty. Imelda L. Argel is an immigration lawyer and columnist who advocated for the mutual recognition of skills and qualifications of Filipino migrants in Australia.
  • Mr. Tomas P. Avendaño Sr. is a member of the Multi-cultural Advisory Council of British Columbia and is acknowledged for his role in rallying community support for the Multicultural Helping House Society which extends assistance especially to newly-arrived migrants in Canada.
  • Mr. Rafael S. Castaños is a social reformer and lobbyist whose efforts led to the provision of services for migrants seeking job opportunities and related concerns which successfully advanced the cause of overseas Filipinos in Alaska.
  • The Filipiniana–Europa V.Z.W. is a multi-cultural non-profit organization, whose initiatives foster amicable cross-cultural relationships among Filipino migrants, the Belgians and other diaspora communities regardless of ethnicity, religious orientation and socio-economic status.
  • The Filipino Community of Seattle is a non-profit organization in the State of Washington that was founded in the 1930s and has sustained its commitment to serve the socio-cultural, political, and education needs as means to strengthen ethnic pride and foster unity in diversity.
  • The Filipino Digerati Association is a non-profit organization composed of IT professionals who banded together to provide computer technology-transfer trainings to improve the employability of their fellow OFWS in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Ms. Luzviminda S. Micabalo is a retired nurse and health administrator from New York who continues to devote her unbridled energy to humanitarian activities and philanthropic causes in the Philippines as well as in Nevada.
  • Mr. Al Perez Jr. is Entertainment Commissioner of the City and County of San Francisco who is recognized for his instrumental role in developing a sense of pride in Philippine cultural heritage among members of the Fil-American community in the Bay Area.
  • Lt. Eric Michael B. Quema is responsible for establishing a volunteer training program conducted by colleagues from the San Francisco Police Department and the Filipino Law Enforcers Association for the benefit of members of the Philippine National Police.
  • Mr. Robert Santos is a Seattle-based civil rights leader whose sustained activism helped Filipino migrants and other Asian-Americans campaign for decent urban housing and community development.
  • The Stichting Bayanihan is a unique ‘women-helping-women’ organization who assists documented and undocumented migrants interested in self-development and enrichment opportunities, particularly the exploited au pairs in the Netherlands.
  • Ms. Ma. Luzviminda Tsai

Kaanib ng Bayan Awardees (2)

Kaanib ng Bayan awardees are foreign individuals or organizations honored for their exceptional and significant contribution to Philippine reconstruction, progress and development, or have advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities.

  • Dr. Gonen Haba is an Israeli medical specialist who attends to the needs of the overseas Filipino community and is widely held as a dear friend, brother, counselor, healer, and hero for his generosity and dedication.
  • Dr. Christian Loehlein is a German reconstructive surgeon who has used his expertise to restore the self-esteem of Filipino beneficiaries of harelip and cleft palate operations conducted by medical missioners on his team.

These finalists were drawn from a pool of 137 nominations from 26 countries and 20 Philippine embassies and consulates. Given the estimated 10 million overseas Filipino in more than 200 destinations worldwide who contribute to the productivity and well-being of their countries of residence and employment, these outstanding members of the Philippine diaspora and their co-operators and supporters represent the crème-de-la-crème. They are a living proof that our capacity for hard work coupled with the bayanihan spirit are a winning combination that knows no bounds.

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