By Abner Galino
A FILIPINO-American litigation lawyer C. Joe Sayas Jr. and the Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California is among the 25 outstanding overseas Filipinos and foreign-based Filipino organizations to be conferred presidential awards by President Rodrigo Duterte in ceremonies to be held on Dec. 5 at the Malacañang Palace in Manila.
Sayas, a noted attorney who has recovered more than US$125 million dollars in compensation and settlements for thousands of individuals, workers and injured clients during his 25 years of law practice in the United States, is one of 11 distinguished overseas Filipinos who will receive the Pamana ng Pilipino Awards.
The Pamana ng Pilipino Award is conferred on Filipino 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 awardees, who come from 12 countries and territories, had gone through a 4-stage selection process involving multi-sectoral representation.
This year’s awardees were selected from a total of 96 nominations received by the CFO from 28 countries through 37 Philippine Embassies and Consulates across Asia, North and South America, Africa, Europe and Australia.
The awardees were thoroughly screened by four different committees from the Philippine Foreign Service Posts, an inter-agency Technical Committee, a multi-sectoral Executive Committee, and finally by the Office of the President.
PAMANA NG PILIPINO AWARDS
The 10 other Pamana ng Pilipino awardees are:
• Paul C. Balan (US) — A coinage and medal designer based in Chicago who is the first Filipino and first Asian whose designs have been selected for commemorative coins and congressional medals of the United States;
• Edward M. Brotonel (US) — A special agent in the US Army Criminal Investigation Division who received various meritorious recognitions for uncovering major theft and fraud in the US Army, Pentagon and during the post-911 Iraq reconstruction;
• Nicolas M. Caraquel (US) — An immigration lawyer based in New York who broke out of poverty through his determination and hard work;
• Elizabeth L. Engle (US) — A pioneering woman engineer in Alaska who served in various leadership roles and managed major pipeline projects;
• Maria Theresa A. Eviota (Switzerland) — A housekeeper based in Berne, Switzerland who has served excellently in various foreign embassies and diplomatic residences;
• Pedro A. Jose (US) — A scientist, physician and academician all rolled into one known for his breakthrough research and practice on hypertension;
• Teresita A. Marquez (Portugal) — A professor of music and renowned musician, composer and director who founded award-winning choir groups in Lisbon;
• Jose Dennis C. Teodosio (Myanmar) — A multi-awarded writer for TV, cinema, advertising and the stage who supported Myanmar’s media transition;
• Saturnino H. Tiamzon Jr. (Hongkong) — A versatile musician who brought pride, honor and service to the country with his exemplary achievements, leadership and civic engagements;
• Jhett D. Tolentino (US) — A Broadway producer based in New York who produces award-winning live theater and musical shows and the first Filipino to garner both Tony and Grammy awards.
The PWC, according to the awards committee, “serves as an integral part in the statewide and nationwide movement to uplift the dignity of caregivers, fights for labor protection, and advocates for fair wages and suitable working conditions of Filipino caregivers and domestic workers in Southern California.”
The Banaag Award is conferred on Filipino individuals or organizations for their contributions that have significantly benefited or advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities.
Other Banaag awardees are:
• Corazon A. Francisco (Australia) — A medical doctor and community leader in Sydney who assists Filipino doctors to practice their profession in Australia by linking them with the Australian medical systems and procedures, and by providing free tutorials and review classes in preparation for medical licensure exams;
• Agnes Katbeth O. Kreimer (Peru) — A Lima-based Filipina who serves as a Filipino community coordinator in the absence of a Philippine post in Peru, helping Filipino prisoners and human trafficking victims receive the necessary advice and assistance;
• Dindo B. Malanyaon (Italy) — Founded the iPARAMEDICi association in Rome that provides first aid and emergency transport to sick and wounded overseas Filipinos, as well as educating the Filipino community in Rome about the fundamental laws of Italy and how to avail of its health, education and social services;
• Juliet Montano (Taiwan) — A Taipei-based medical doctor who provides accessible and affordable quality medical care services to overseas Filipino workers and overseas Filipino-Chinese in Taiwan;
• Maria Cristina F. Sulaik (Sudan) — A hotel manager based in Khartoum who assisted the Philippine Embassy in Cairto in its repatriation of overseas Filipino workers, assisting those in detention centers, and providing advice on consular and labor concerns while promoting Philippine culture and cuisine to the Sudanese community;
• Wimler Foundation Hong Kong Ltd. (Hongkong) — A non-profit and charitable organization which promotes the development and empowerment of Filipino migrants in Hongkong and other ethnic communities, and supports development-oriented projects for the education of underprivileged children and economic empowerment of local communities in the Philippines.
LINGKOD SA KAPWA PILIPINO AWARDS
Three Filipino organizations and two individuals were named Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino (LINKAPIL) awardees for exceptional or significant contributions to the reconstruction, progress and development of the Philippines. They are:
• Association of Fil-Am Teachers of America Inc. (US) — A non-profit organization of Filipino teachers in New York who foster unity and collaboration among teachers towards the advancement of the teaching profession and rendering education, charitable and civic services in the Philippines and US;
• Salvacion G. Cimanez (Netherlands) — An educator based in The Hague who established a foundation for deaf and blind children in the setting up of schools and centers for children with special needs in the Philippines;
• Filipino-American Law Enforcement Officers Association (US) — A San Francisco-based organization comprised of active and retired Filipino-American law enforcement personnel whp foster fraternal relationships and cultural awareness among its members while exchanging best practices with the Philippine National Police and other institutions;
• Friends Indeed U.S.A., Inc. (United States) – A non-profit organization in New York that provided substantial support to calamity-stricken communities, assisted Filipinos suffering from serious physical ailments, and developed potable water sources and other small-scale infrastructures in the Philippines.
• Hilda L. Gigioli (United States) – A Washington-based Engineer, a Defense contractor and community leader who has mobilized support for the victims of calamities and for the construction of classrooms and water systems of several communities in the Philippines.
KAANIB NG BAYAN AWARDS
Two Filipino organizations were named as Kaanib ng Bayan Awardees for their exceptional or significant contribution to Philippine reconstruction, progress and development, or have significantly benefited a sector or community in the Philippines, or advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities. The Kaanib ng Bayan awardees are:
• Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Singapore) – An organization that advocates for the rights and welfare of migrant domestic workers, especially of Filipinos working in Singapore.
• Stichting LOOP (Netherlands) – An organization run by Dutch volunteers which supports organic and fair trade with farmer cooperatives, communities and small enterprises in the Philippines while promoting Philippine products to the Netherlands and the international market.