Humanitarian awards for unsung Filipino heroes


    There is no denying that the world is turning in very unsettling times. Sadly, it is no longer shocking, albeit still horrific, to wake up to news of terrorism, killings, as well as natural calamities, and then having to face the day with personal challenges. Filipinos, known around the globe for their happy disposition and warm personalities, are not exempted from this present reality, and along with many others are often compelled to wonder, “Is there still goodness left in the world?”

    For “The One,” an international humanitarian award comprised supported by businessmen and philanthropists from Asia, the answer is a resounding yes because they have come face to face with people who continue to spread goodness in places where violence, pain and suffering take innocent victims.

    (From left) David Hariela, The One Humanitarian Award founder; Rolando Villanueva, Rotary coordinator; Rafael Garcia 3rd, Rotary International director; Ursula Lijuaco, Rotary public image coordinator in the Philippines; and Jose Francisco Cifra, chairman and president of Rotary District Government PHOTOS BY BOB DUNGO

    These unsung heroes have been quietly doing good deeds around the globe until David Harilela, a successful businessman and past district governor of Rotary Club Hong Kong, conceptualized and founded The One in 2012, the first international humanitarian award launched by Rotary International District 3450 (comprised of Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia and PRC-Guangdong).

    The One awardee qualifies “as a true angel and a healer who, upon waking up every single morning, puts others before himself and dedicates his life to helping others in need.”

    The One recognition, however, goes beyond spotlighting the salt of the earth but also reward them with a fund to help them further their causes. As such, since 2012, The One has empowered modern day heroes with $100,000 for the winner every year, and S$50,000 each for three other finalists.

    Philippines on ‘TOP’

    This year, the international humanitarian award has decided to hold a special edition in the Philippines by launching TOP or The One Philippines.

    Cecilia Debunda Flores, first finalist of ‘The One 2012’

    Officially a subsidiary of The One International, TOP is similarly a search for unsung heroes in the Philippines who are doing good for and within the community. The inaugural awards will be held in 2018.

    The TOP winner will receive P1.5 million, while the two runners-up will each receive P500,000 to help further humanitarian efforts.

    Additionally, the winner will automatically qualify as a semi-finalist in the 2019 edition of the international humanitarian tilt.

    Cecilia Oebanda-Flores, one of the first finalists of The One International in 2012 joined Harilela during the launch of TOP in Makati and shared how being part of the international humanitarian award has truly helped her causes.

    “It was indeed a huge help to be recognized in the region. Let’s bear in mind that the award was not given solely on the basis of the number of people an individual has helped but really on the awardee or the finalists’ effort.

    Personally, it feels rewarding—it’s nice to be looked at through that lens, to be recognized for your compassion toward people because sometimes you don’t even think about it,” Flores told The Sunday Times Magazine.

    Flores was recognized in 2012 for providing shelter for human trafficking victims in the Philippines through her foundation, the Visayan Forum.

    Besides winning the cash grant, Flores said her organization and cause benefitted from new connections formed since becoming part of The One.

    “It’s nice to belong to a community with people who share the same passion and commitment. And of course, it’s nice for you to know that you are not alone in this endeavor,” she finally noted.

    According to Harilela, TOP will zoom in on causes for Filipinos and will ensure that a humanitarian individual from the Philippines will be receiving the top grant as the international edition sees nominees from around the globe.

    The search is on

    The search is now on for the first-ever TOP awardee. The humanitarian award is open to all Filipinos 18 years of age and above who are not employees or members of any Rotary Club. Moreover, a candidate must not have previously received any cash prize from The One’s organizing committee.

    The nominator will be recognized as well if his or her nominee wins TOP. Furthermore, the winning nominator will be able to donate P150,000 to his or her chosen Philippine Government-approved charitable organization or a Rotary Club in the country.

    Details of documents that need to be submitted to vie for nominations are available at Philippines@theoneintl.org or theoneintl.org/top.

    TOP will accept nominations until January 30, 2018. The Gala Awards night, meanwhile, is tentatively scheduled in May or June 2018.


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