As the nation honors champions of the revolution this month, ABS-CBN Corp., The Filipino Channel (TFC), and Ugat Foundation jointly recognized the heroes of our time through the Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Global Bayaning Pilipino Awards on June 27.
A new breed of heroes were named before an esteemed audience—from an ordinary farmer to a group of professionals, and from enterprising young folks to a retired teacher who all believe they can do more for others.
ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio Lopez 3rd, echoing what could very well be the words of his late father chairman emeritus Eugenio Lopez Jr., said: “Every year, we realize we have a bundle of heroes among us. I see people who are quite simple. They appear to be as people who never expect any reward, not even an affirmation.”
Making these modern heroes extraordinary are the adversities they overcame to be of service to others. According to Ugat project director Fr. Nilo Tanalega S.J., “Ang mga panahong lumilipas, dito hinahamon ang kabayanihan ng mga Pilipino sa kung anong pagasa ang inalay at inaalay nila para sa mga taong nasalanta [The tragedies that come with the times challenge the heroism of Filipinos—the help they can and will extend to the downtrodden].”
Lopez and Tanalega awarded one of the highest honors of the night to two heroes or bayanis: a retired public school teacher Lilia Diaz, who dedicated the remaining years of her life to teaching the Tagbanuas in Palawan and Leonilo Beltran, a former OFW who founded Skills Caravan Movement which extends free training in Regions II and III to people without resources.
The rest of the finalists are: Velvet Escario Roxas (Arugaan), Johnny Punzalan Medrano (Batangas Cellphone Specialist Association), and Dr. Anton Mari Lim (Yellow Boat of Hope).
Bayaning Samahang Pilipino
The Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Awards was organized to give patriotism and the spirit of bayanihan a face worldwide. In pursuit of this goal, ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer (CEO) Charo Santos-Concio and Fr. Tanalega honored Filipino organizations that have come together for a good cause: Ugnayan ng Pahinugod Manila, Malayan Samahan ng mga Katutubo (Masaka), Ezer Foundation and category winner International Deaf Education Association Philippines (Idea).
Bayaning Kabataang Pilipino
From the group category, the Global Bayaning Pilipino Awards also honored young individuals who prove that true heroism transcends age.
From finalists Helen Gemma Ramos Vallejos (founder of Balikatang Pak na Pak) and Cyprian Jade Basa (Department of Agriculture awardee), John Michael Dellariarte (I CAN make a difference) emerged the winner for turning his knowledge in the sciences into opportunities to help.
Global Bayaning Pilipino
From the Philippines, the Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Global Bayaning Pilipino Awards also honored winners from North America and Asia.
Because of the magnitude of their service to fellowmen, the Bayaning Pilipino sa North America declared all finalists Carolina Medical Mission (CMM), Filipino-American Community and Development Center of Ocean County Inc. and Aksyon ng Ating Kabataan Inc as winners during the Quezon City awarding.
Previously, the winners were honored in TFC’s 20th anniversary gala at the Elizabeth A. Hangs Theatre, Santa Clara Convention Center in Sta. Clara, California in April.
Beyond their recognition, the Global winners were amazed at how much the local bayanis have accomplished given so little. CMM member, physicians Nimfa and Bernie Yu said: “Sa nakita namin ngayon, some do not even belong to a big group. We’re lucky because we are a big group. Sa nakita ko sa individual categories, kaya pala [From what I saw, some are not privileged as us to be part of a group. When I saw the individual categories, I realized it [help]can be shared].”
FCDC treasurer and board members Rowela Antioquia and Lorna Tejada added: “Yung mga local Bayaning Pilipino, they did awesome. For us, we may just have the money but there were winners who were able to help [even without resources].”
Daisydee Bautista, ANAK director ended: “It’s not about being different or standing out to separate yourselves from the others, but it’s a way to relate and to involve yourself with everyone so that you can have the opportunities to share these and your learnings.”
For the Bayaning Pilipino sa Gawing Japan, Jeppie Dato Ramada (teacher and founder of United Filipinos in Gifu) was declared grand winner. Ramada was recognized for organizing his fellow Filipinos in Japan to help others, including other nationalities.
Ramada’s aunt, Erlinda Ramada said her nephew could not receive the award personally because he could not leave the school children he was teaching. Ramada said Jeppie won because he has a big heart.
“Even nung nasa Pilipinas siya, pumupunta siya sa remote areas, especially sa mga katutubo [Even when he was in the Philippines, he went to the remote areas, especially to the indigenous tribes to help],” Ramada said.
The other finalists were Charito Itou (Great Earthquake and Tsunami survivor and host of radio program Bayanihan Kessanuma Filipino) and Rachel Tekahasi (founding member of Bayanihan Kessenuma Community).
All were awarded during the Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Awards component of the Saludo sa Bayaning Pilipino sa Japan where Angel Locsin and Mitoy Yonting paid tribute.
The Board of Judges included Lita Asis-Nero (chairman) and board members Lopez, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation chairman of the board Gina Lopez, UGAT Foundation’s Rose Scott, and 1999 Bayaning Pamilyang Pilipino National winner Robert Cericos.
Hosting the heart-warming tribute were popular broadcast journalist Atom Araullo and highly regarded actress Iza Calzado, while Miss International Bea Rose Santiago fulfilled anchoring duties.
Serenading the awardees in a grand ensemble of reality singing competition stars were Yeng Constantino, Angeline Quinto, Jovit Baldovino, and Klarisse. Also sharing stirring performances were vocalists Kitchie Nadal, Nicole Ascencio, and Aia de Leon plus Tutti Caringal. Capping the tradition of singing greats, the Tres Marias Lolita Carbon, Cookie Chua and Bayang Barrios also lent their time and talent.
Moving the audience to tears were the Reo brothers of typhoon-stricken Tacloban City.
The awarding ceremony was held at the landmark Dolphy Theater of the ABS-CBN Corp. headquarters in Quezon City.