By FLORANGEL ROSARIO BRAID
Two recent awards recognized Filipino men and women who had made exceptional impact in the life of the country. Friedrich Naumann Foundation, in its commemoration of 60 years’ presence in the country, honored former DILG Secretary and Senator Mar Roxas by conferring him its Freedom Flame award for his having advanced democratic ideals. The award was presented by Vice President Leni Robredo who also delivered this year’s Freedom Speech, and by officials of the foundation at ceremonies held at the courtyard of the Museum of Natural History. The Foundation had supported seminars, conferences, and publications aimed at promoting liberal values and principles.
We were pleased to learn that hundreds of thousands had visited the museum since it opened last May. This neo-classical architecture was designed by Architect Dominic Galicia who conceptualized the DNA Tree of Life, a double helix steel structure that provided a canopy for the museum courtyard, a most impressive structure.
The TOFIL (The Outstanding Filipino) Award, which was conceived and implemented by Jaycee International (JCI) Senate Philippines in 1988, also celebrated its 30th year by presenting its annual awards to four outstanding Filipinos whose “exemplary achievements have contributed to public welfare and community building worthy of emulation.” The JCI Senate Philippine is an organization of JCI members who have likewise performed exceptional achievement, outstanding works and contribution to the chapter and the Jaycee movement. This year’s officials are JCI Sen. Apollo S. Enriquez, national president, and JCI Sen. Christopher M. Camba, national chairman of the TOFIL Award. Present at the gathering were chairs of TOFIL awards during the past years. Former Supreme Court Justice Jose C. Vitug headed the board of judges, and keynote speaker was Martin M. Andanar, secretary, Presidential Communications Operations Office.
This year’s TOFIL awardees are Fr. Benigno P. Beltran, SVD, priest, and notable humanitarian who had dedicated 30 years of his life transforming and empowering more than 25,000 constituents in Smokey Mountain. He established Project Veritas Social Empowerment, a social enterprise that connects the urban poor to the Internet as well as “Mga Anak in Inang Daigdig” which was awarded by DENR stewardship of 1,600 hectares in the Marikina watershed. His strong lobbying resulted in the closure of its dumpsite and led to its transformation into a medium-rise housing area for 5,000 scavenger families. His awards include the Ninoy Aquino Medal of Valor, the MGD Warrior Award by the UN Development Program, and the 100 Planet Earth Lovers Award.
Jose Ma. Salvador (Joey) Concepcion III, champion of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MDMEs) in the country and the ASEAN, founded “Go Negosyo” which carried out 30 caravans all over the country, produced a TV show, created a website for entreprenerurs, launched more than 10 best-selling books and organized a monthly “Mentor Me” program. As presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and chair of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, he was listed in the TIME’s Global 100 List of Young Leaders of the Millennium received the CEO Excellence Award, was one of the 48 Heroes of Philanthropy in 2011, and brought together the public and private sector to work together through the Angat Lahat Alliance.
Congressman Raul V. del Mar. Cebu City’s first district representative in the 17thCengress, was recognized for public service. He translated his vision for a future-ready Cebu through legislation that focused on infrastructures – the Mactan Cebu Airport and Cebu Port Authority which have become models of port management and several other infrastructures that made Cebu a regional hub of several global companies, increased the city’s revenues, and enabled tourism to flourish. He was also recipient of the Presidential Medal of Merit in 2007, a Papal Award, and the Blessed Pedro Calungsod Award, and addressed the UN during the 48th UN General Assembly.
Hilly Ann Maria Fernandez Roa-Quiaoit, awarded for environmental conservation, has worked on uniting coastal towns in Cagayan de Oro to address the rapid degradation of Macajalar Bay where the alliance of 12 towns introduced the integrated coastal management that resolved causes of coral demise. Her “Atlas of Coral Reefs” won the Best Book in 2003 by DOST and the National Academy of Science and Technology. She was also the TOWNS (The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service) awardee for environmental conservation. Known as the “mother of Giant Clams,” she graduated Magna Cum Laude for her doctorate in Natural Science at the University of Bremen in Germany. They join some 100 other past awardees who have left a “legacy for a better Philippines.”
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