Pinoy nurses, veterans, 9 others feted with Gawad Alab ng Lahi award in New York

Awardees all: Filipino awardees beam with pride during the recognition ceremony.

NEW YORK—Nurses, veterans and fellow Filipinos based in the United States were among those honored in New York last week in the first-ever “Gawad Alab ng Lahi” awards.

Filipino health-care workers who served in the frontlines against the pandemic, and others advocating for the cause of compatriots who fought during the Second World War, were feted in the citation ceremony.  

Also in the limelight during the awarding ceremonies held at the Whitby Theater in Manhattan were a Filipina lawyer-philanthropist behind efforts to find a cure for a rare neurological disorder, and an American businessman who was among those who helped the return of the Balangiga Bells back to the Philippines. 

Seven other individuals and organizations received the Alab ng Lahi Award of the Philippine Consulate General in New York and the Hiraya Foundation for Filipino-American Heritage Preservation, in recognition of their respective achievements that advanced the interests of the Philippines and the Filipino people. 

“Our Gawad Alab ng Lahi awardees bring not only pride and honor to the Filipino race—they are the flames that should inspire all of us to work together to help us achieve our shared aspirations for our country and our people,” Consul General Elmer G. Cato said. 

“We hope the Gawad Alab ng Lahi will inspire more…kababayans to stoke the flames of Filipino pride by demonstrating the best of our race in whatever they do,” said Dr. Romulo Aromin, who is the president and chair of the Hiraya Foundation.

The Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA), whose members were recognized for their service and sacrifice especially during the pandemic that claimed the lives of as many as 66 Filipina nurses, led the roster of awardees.

The award was received by PNAA President Mary Joy Garcia-Dia and other PNAA officials, who held back their tears as the citation was being read. 

Another is Dr. Leo Felix Jurado, chair of the Nursing Department at the William Patterson University in New Jersey, for his role in convincing US authorities to do away with the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools examination, and in getting the country included as a testing center for the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX.

Also recognized was the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project, which convinced the United States Congress to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Second World War veterans from the Philippines. 

The award was received by retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who became emotional as he recounted the efforts to secure US recognition for Filipino veterans. He fought alongside his father who once served with the Philippine Scouts. 

Also honored was Atty. Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine, president of the Sunshine Care Foundation and cofounder of the Collaborative Center for X-Linked Dystonia Parkinsonism. She is behind efforts to find a cure for the disease that afflicts Filipino males from the Visayas, while providing comprehensive support for patients and their families in the Philippines. 

Another is Dr. Henry Howard, Philippine honorary consul in Miami, who was recognized not only for his scholarship programs in the Philippines, but also for his role in securing the return of the Balangiga Bells.

Other awardees are the Association of Filipino Teachers in America; stage actor Miguel Braganza II; Mayor Arvin Amatorio of Bergenfield, New Jersey; Concentrix Phils.; Carnival Cruise Lines; and United Food of Asia Ltd. 

The honorees were presented with a mixed-media trophy made of wood, metal, glass, and abaca designed by Filipino pop artist Normie Meimban.

The event was hosted by Marc Dela Cruz, who is the first Filipino to play the lead role in the Broadway musical Hamilton. He and singer Kirby Asunto, along with conductor Michael Dadap and the Children’s Orchestra Society, also performed for the audience mainly composed of prominent members of the Filipino community.

Image credits: Troi Santos


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