SHARJAH: A prominent Filipina and a Filipino non-profit organisation in the UAE are among the 29 recipients of the prestigious ‘2012 Presidential Awards’ sponsored by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas in Manila.
They are Geoscience Testing Laboratory chief executive officer Engr. Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi, a 2008 Emirates Business Women’s Award recipient and the Filipino Digerati Association (FDA), which has been responsible for teaching basic as well as advance ICT courses to 15,961 Filipinos across the country since 2007, leading to better employment and career opportunities, particularly to household workers and other unskilled workers.
Along with Allan ‘Apl.de.Ap’ Pineda of the internationally-known Black Eyed Peas, a strong supporter of education for the youth in the Philippines, they are among the crème de la crème from 130 nominations across the world which passed screenings made stricter this year by the board of judges “following raised eyebrows from Filipinos in the UAE with regard to the selection done in 2010 and through which ensued formal complaints.”
Al Mahdi and Apl.de.Ap are two awardees in the Pamana ng Pilipino (Heritage of the Filipino) Category, which recognises those “who have brought honour to the country and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work and profession,” according to a press release furnished to this reporter.
The FDA is among 13 awardees in the Banaag (Beam of Light) Category acknowledged for their community service to overseas Filipinos (OFs).
In an earlier interview, an FDA student-turned-volunteer, Flordeliza Valdez, expressed joy over the award the organisation has reaped.
The 29-year-old came to the UAE five years ago to work as a housemaid in a British home in Dubai.
It was her madam who asked her about her ambitions in life and she encouraged her. Today, Valdez from the Northern Luzon province of Ilocos Sur is the Northhill Project Management company’s receptionist-secretary.
“I still live with the British family who has considered me a family member. I am very grateful to them and to the FDA,” she said.
The other Pamana awardees are Dr Delia Amaya, an esteemed food technology expert in Brazil; Dr Samuel Bernal, a cancer specialist and lawyer as well as the pioneer of stem cell research in the Philippines; Dr Antonio Fernando III, a psychiatry professor and an expert in the field of sleep medicine in New Zealand; Almira Astudillo Gilles, an award-winning writer and editor in the US; and Dianne Monique Lhuillier, a leading bridal couturier and fashion designer in the US.
The awardees also include Dr Ruth Lynia Mabanglo, a University of Hawaii professor and a strong advocate of Filipino language and culture in the US; Jorge Ortoll, the director of the Ma-Yi, which is a premier Asian-American theatre company in New York; Eric Spoelstra, the first Filipino-American head coach to win the US National Basketball Association championship for the Miami Heat; and Dr Francisca Tolete-Velcek, a notable paediatric doctor and academician in the US.
The other Banaag awardees are individuals and organisations from Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada, Alaska, Washington, New York, California, Taiwan and the Netherlands.
The other categories in the Presidential Awards are the Lingkod ng Kapwa Pilipino (Service to the People) Award for groups or persons who have exceptionally or significantly contributed to progress and development in the Philippines and the Kaanib ng Bayan (Affiliate of the Country) Award for significant contribution to Philippines’ reconstruction, progress and development.
President Benigno Aquino III will confer them the awards on Dec.5 at the Malacanang Palace (Presidential Palace).