The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) and its official media partner, Filipino broadcast giant, GMA Network announced the winners of the first Alex Esclamado Memorial Award for Community Service.
Inspired by the life and works of notable news publisher and editor Alex Esclamado, this honor recognizes outstanding contributions and services rendered by Filipino-American organizations to the Filipino and mainstream American communities and to the Philippines.
“We need to honor a man, who was an impossible dreamer, who dreamed of something that we, overseas Filipinos, especially those of us in the United States, have always wanted for a long, long time,” says former NaFFA Chairperson and head of the Awards Commitee, Greg Macabenta on the motivation behind the newly minted Alex Esclamado Memorial Award for Community Service. “The empowerment and unification, and it was only Alex who dared to dream of achieving those goals, and he actually did it,” he adds.
Following a thorough screening process, the Council for Filipino American Organizations of Central Florida, the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service, Inc., Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Texas, and the Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc. were finally named winners of the award.
Leading the roster of honourees is the Council for Filipino American Organizations of Central Florida which was recognized for its outstanding community service in state socio-civic affairs and aid to the Philippines. Its mission includes providing relief aid to calamity victims, awarding scholarships to deserving students, and fostering trade and commerce between the Philippines and the State of Florida, to name a few. The group has also advanced FilAm visibility in the community, as well as helped build the Bataan-Corregidor Monument in Kissimmee to honor Filipino WW II veterans and the Jose Rizal bust at the International plaza at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando together with the former mayor of Orlando, Glenda Hood.
The West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service, Inc. was, meanwhile, recognized for exhibiting outstanding community service in health, education and youth development. Founded in 1968 by local hero Ed dela Cruz and other social activists, West Bay has helped thousands of individuals through employment placement assistance, food distribution to the elderly, youth programs, community health projects, advocacy initiatives, and case management. It has particularly excelled in aiding SOMA youth through its After-School Program using a holistic approach to ensure the social, emotional, academic, and physical wellness of our youth participants.
Another recipient is the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Texas owing to its outstanding community service in trade development and aid to the Philippines. Voted as the most outstanding FilAm Chamber of Commerce for three years in a row, some its most significant achievements include raising close to $1 million in donations for calamity victims in the Philippines and adopting an island in Northern Cebu for reconstruction and rehabilitation as well as NGOs in the Philippines. Among them are the Tahanang Walang Hagdan, Boys Reformatory School, and the Golden Acres Sanctuary for Abandoned Seniors.
Rounding out the list of awardees is the Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc. (UNIPRO), which won for its outstanding community service in youth leadership and development. UNIPRO’s projects involve internships fairs, workshops and forums on various topics such as community engagement, reconnecting with one’s Filipino roots and education.
Macabenta relates that the winners were chosen based on their “commitment to the Filipino people both in the United States and in the Philippines, a desire to empower our people and to claim our rightful place not only in the United States but all over the world, and lastly, integrity” which are all truly apparent in the man who inspired this award.
This was made possible through GMA International, which manages the operations and distribution of the Network’s three international channels, GMA Pinoy TV, GMA Life TV and GMA News TV International.
“We congratulate the winners of the first Alex Esclamado Memorial Award for Community Service. We are proud to have taken part in recognizing their outstanding contribution in their respective fields of endeavour,” expresses GMA Vice President and Head of International Operations Joseph T. Francia. “We also congratulate NaFFAA for the success of the project and look forward to continuing our partnership with them in celebrating our shared and treasured Filipino values,” he adds.
Ms. Loida Nicolas-Lewis, former NaFFAA chair and Chair of the Panel of Jurors for the award commended GMA’s participation in the establishment of the award, “The Alex Esclamado Memorial Award for Community Service is a wonderful way of motivating FilAm community organizations to honor and continue his legacy. We are grateful to GMA Network for sponsoring this memorial award,” she says.
The winners will be presented at the 11th NaFFAA National Empowerment Conference to be held at the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center, San Diego California. The event will run from August 7 to 10, 2014.