Lilia de Lima, who headed the Philippine Economic Zone Authority for 21 years, led five other recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Award on Thursday at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City.
The other awardees were Yoshiaki Ishizawa of Japan, Abdon Nababan of Indonesia, Philippine Educational Theatre Association, Gethsie Shanmugam of Sri Lanka, and Tony Tay of Singapore.
De Lima was first appointed as PEZA chief in 1995 by former President Fidel V. Ramos. She stepped down last year when she was replaced by the appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The six awardees were selected for their moral courage and impassioned insistence on making the societies that “they serve better, kinder and more equitable for everyone, especially for the marginalized, offering inspiring examples of vision, leadership, and persistence and success.”
“It was the most pleasant surprise. I never thought I will get this award after 21 years as PEZA head,” de Lima told The Manila Times.
Despite her retirement, de Lima said she remains busy.
“I still continue to see investors, encourage them to invest because we have so much to offer. This award being a premier award will inspire me to do more for our country.”
PETA was the sole institutional awardee.
Cecille Garrucho, president of PETA, said the theatre company has a legacy of using Filipino language in its plays and music. Plays like Care Divas, A Game of Trolls, and more than 450 others have social relevance,
innovative in artistry, and experimental aside from being humorous.
Ishizawa was cited for his stewardship in preserving Angkor Wat, a heritage of the Cambodian people.
Nababan meanwhile had far-reaching impact on the lives of millions of Indonesia indigenous people, while Shanmugam worked under extreme conditions to rebuild war-scarred Sri Lanka women and children.
Tay was honored for having a big heart, sharing food to the poor in Singapore. His kindness attracted volunteers who daily cook and serve food.
The six awardees joined 318 other Magsaysay laureates.
Each awardee received a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of President Magsaysay, and a cash prize.