14 Years of Recognizing Filipino Heroism from ordinary folks who have done extraordinary deeds to others. Kapamilya, this year's search is now open to recognize for a new set of Unsung Heroes who exemplifies the value of selfless and compassion to reach out to others. For nomination form, kindly send us an e-mail indicated below and please specify the exact category you may wish to submit an entry. Maraming Salamat Po Kapamilya!
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
- Tel-Aviv, Israel
Aside from being away from their families, OFWs face various challenges living abroad. Lourdes Levi has witnessed the difficulties that OFWs like her face abroad, and this prompted her desire to help her fellow Filipinos.
In 2005, she organized KALAHI whose primary advocacy is to help OFWs in Israel who are victims of injustice and provide free medical assistance to Filipino patients. She is also the founder and chairwoman of Medical Mission in Israel for Filipinos.
Lourdes is also the chairperson of the board of the Federation of Filipino Communities in Israel from 2005 to present. She assisted Filipinos to find honest Israeli layers to help them secure visas and to bring to prosecution those lawyers who have defrauded some Filipinos charging them with big amounts but issuing fake visa, instead of a residence visa.
Her help goes as far as assisting Filipinos by becoming a translator in court hearings. She also files cases against Israelis who resort to sexual harassment among Filipinos who incur loans with 10% interest if they fail to pay. She also report Israelis who confiscate the original passport as a means of harassing their employees.
One of the persons she was able to help is a fellow Filipina who was dragged to the fields, raped and beaten by a group of men because she failed to her loan. Through her help, the rapists were prosecuted and imprisoned.
Lourdes is a selfless individual who goes out of her way to help her fellow Filipinos in Israel. She makes herself available whenever someone calls for her help. Like many OFWs, she has proven, time and again, that wherever there are Filipinos, there are heroes.
- Bhea M. Tabuso - Ramat Gan, Israel; Umingan Pangasinan (Country Finalist)
- Hong Kong
Despite being away from home, Saturnino Tiamson, Jr. strives to stay connected to his roots. He dedicates his time, effort and resources to reach out to his fellow Filipinos through his arts and culture programs.
Twice a year, during his annual vacations, he organizes free one-day workshops for the youth with their musical instruments. Using his own resources, he voluntarily organizes these annual local workshops attended by 70-80 youth participants in the provinces of Rizal, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan & Manila.
Saturnino is also a project leader of the JCI boot camp, a 3-day music training camp, joined in by several bands in Laguna, which he voluntarily organized. His heroic deeds bridge distance as he is able to extend his help by giving free personal tutorials through his Saturn free music online (music theory, percussion, drum set) using Skype, Facebook and Facetime with students for Philippines, Hong Kong, Brunei, Malaysia, Kuwait & other parts of the world.
He also holds free music and percussion workshops and free consultancy to the Mindanao Hong Kong workers federation drum and lyre (MINFED BAND) composed of OFWs in Hong Kong (Mainly DH with musical instruments).
Aside from giving the gift of music to others, he also features inspiring stories & achievements in HK’s local organization & communities as a regular columnist of Pinoy Musicians abroad for HK Life free Filipino newspaper.
It is not surprising that Saturnino was given the Bagong Bayani Award for culture & the arts and Sanguniang Bayan Award for Music in 2013. His contribution to the Filipino arts and culture by enriching music is something worthy or recognition.
Ma. Wilma A. Padura (Country Finalist)
- Hong Kong
Uniting the Filipino communities abroad is no easy task but Ma. Wilma Padura took the challenge and founded Passi City Association Hong Kong. They initiated programs such as skills training conduct, livelihood training, financial literacy, personal & spiritual development speech enhancement, leadership training & fund raising event to help their members & fellow OFWs.
She also plays a big role in the Passi City Balik-Sa-Bayan Inc., non-profit social enterprise corporation which aims to improve the living conditions of economically-disadvantaged “kababayans” in her hometown. Wilma also organizes projects to help the victims of natural calamities, such as typhoon Yolanda, in her own country.
Elena Elecanal (Country Finalist)
Working as a household worker in Singapore for 24 years, Elena Elecanal has dedicated more than a decade of her years as an OFW to helping her fellow Filipino in Singapore. She is an active member of Legion of Mary since year 2000 and other church related activities of the Filipino community.
She also devotes her time counseling and providing support to OFWs, including not just Filipinos but other nationalities as well. Some of the cases she handles are agency problems, employer abuse, medical problems and others. She serves as a voice of the Filipino community and other foreign workers on their rights and welfare.
Remedios Salamanes (Country Finalist)
Remedios Salamanes, or Mimi is a former caregiver and now works as a librararia in a Catholic school in Macau. She is a familiar face in the Filipino community who actively participates in the programs, activities and seminars of the Philippine Consulate, POLO/OWWA and Pastoral Center.
She is an active member of FOCOLARE since 1985. Through this association, she had the opportunity to help many faceless individuals who were once lost, helpless & hopeless. She travelled to different places, net and made friends with different people. She lives with the burning desire to continue her missions and commitments to her family, congregations, community and to the whole world.
- Sendai, Japan
Fourteen years ago, Rita Kita came to Japan and settled in Ibaraki Prefecture. She worked as a part-time English teacher, before she and her husband decided to move to Sendai.
She and her husband are both active members of the Philippine Committee of the Hyakunincho Church, which was created by the church to look after the welfare of Filipino migrants in Japan, especially Japanese-Filipino children who were abandoned by their Japanese father.
Rita also works as an active volunteer counselor of KAFIN MIGRANT CENTER (KMC) providing counseling to distressed and disadvantaged Filipinas who are mostly victims of domestic violence and other labor and immigration-related issues. She regularly facilitates workshops and act as trainer in various KMC events that are aimed at empowering migrants, especially women to cope with issues and problems confronting them every day. She eagerly joins negotiations to settle labor problems and disputes taking on the side of migrants who have been treated unfairly at their workplace.
She also founded the Migrante Tohoku Advocacy Center utilizing a small space offered by a member who own a small snack bar in Sendai City. The space offered serves as office and counseling, meetings and other smaller events for Filipinos in the morning.
Rita also stands as an adviser to young Filipino scholars called “KAPATIRAN” & “DAMAYAN” who are both based in Sendai. An organization composed of mostly married migrants, KAPATIRAN & DAMAYAN provides shelter at night for Filipino scholars, space to gather for core group meeting, birthday celebrations and other special events. She made this as a venue to listen to their personal problems & challenges using her vast experience as a social worker & counselor.
Her desire to help is relentless and her passion to service is truly admirable. Rita, like many Filipinos around the world is a proof that the Philippines is truly a nation of heroes.
- Jenavilla B. Shigemizu - Tokyo, Japan
- Helen Naig Hanzawa - Chiba, Japan
Monday, May 2, 2016
- New Jersey, U.S.A.
The Filipino-American Community and Development Center or FCDC is a relatively young but very dynamic organization in a small town in New Jersey called Toms River. Established in 2008, the group now has around 300 members composed mostly of doctors, nurses, lawyers and all other professions in their community.
The organization’s logo is represented by the narra tree, the national tree of the Philippines. They planted a narra tree in American soil to remind them of their strong heritage and what it means to be Filipino-American.
FCDC aims to build a community center where Filipinos can gather to celebrate culture and hold their community and fellowship activities. They currently have an enrichment program for Filipino-American children called FACES or Filipino-American Cultural Enrichment School. It teachers children and teens aged 5 to 17 the Filipino language, culture and values to give them a firmer grasp of their roots.
After sup[er typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), FCDC held a massive fund and relief drive which included a concert. It was held to raise more funds to help the victims. Ina month’s time they were able to gather and send 40 boxes of relief goods to the Philippines and donated thousands of dollars to various organizations helping in the relief efforts. Apart from their immediate aid, they also intend to continue supporting their chosen organizations in the long-term rehabilitation of the calamity-stricken areas.
By uniting the Filipino community in Orange County, the Filipino-American Community and Development Center strive to preserve the Filipino heritage and culture for generations to come.
Aksyon ng Ating Kabataan-ANAK (Country Winner)
- Winnipeg, Canada
Filipino youth immigrants, born and raised in a foreign country, are often faced with identity issues. They struggle to find their identities and the culture that they should embrace. These are the issues that Aksyon ng Ating Kabataan (ANAK), Inc. would like to address.
Established in Winnipeg, Manitoba, ANAK is headed by a group of young Filipino professionals in Canada. It aims to provide social and emotional support for the Filipino youth immigrants of Canada. By providing them a community that would guide and educate them about the Filipino culture, these young Filipino immigrants are led to a better path. Mentorship programs facilitated by fellow Filipinos act as a powerful support system and greatly help them survive their daily struggles as immigrant children.
Cultural integration has been a key driving force in ANAK’s cause. Exposing them to the rich Filipino culture and heritage gives them a better understanding of their roots and who they are as a people. Apart from the successful mentorship programs, ANAK also holds several conferences open to all Filipino youth and their families, from all across Winnipeg, to celebrate Filipino culture. These conferences hold activities that keep both the youths and adults engaged in their community and foster solidarity within the group.
At present, ANAK continues to provide Filipino-Canadians the opportunity to share, learn and uphold their culture through education, resourcing and mentorship. Through organizations like this, we are assured that no matter where Filipinos are, they will remember their roots and remain proud of who they are.
Carolina Medical Mission (Country Winner)
- North Carolina, U.S.A.
Carolina Medical Mission (CMM) is a humanitarian project of a non-profit organization, Philippine American Association of North Carolina (PAANC). It provides free and quality medical, surgical and dental services to underprivileged areas in the Philippines.
Founded in 1993, CMM started with only six volunteer health professional. Today, aside from Carolina, volunteers from other states like Texas and California have joined the mission. Through the years, CMM have treated 47,000 patients, performed 1,800 surgeries, 4,000 dental treatments and extractions and 350 cases of cataract surgeries.
With more than 2 decades of operations, what sustained CMM through the years is teamwork and commitment among its volunteers and their deeply-rooted faith in the Divine Providence is integral in their continues pursuit for healing and touching lives of their fellow Filipinos back home.
- Gifu, Japan
In 2005, Jeppie Tato Ramada came with his family to Japan. Jeppie is a “nikkejin” or a Japanese descendant. In the past years, he has been very active in helping uplift the plight of the Filipino community.
When the Anglican Church established a mission program to care for the victims of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, he was the appointed coordinator of the “let’s Walk Together” program. For two years, he immersed himself with families of victims, both Japanese and Filipinos, attending to their needs and aiding in the efforts to rebuild their lives. He initiated various projects to empower victims through counseling, psycho-social activities and seminars to help them get back on their feet.
Prior to his appointment as coordinator of the said program, Jeppie has been active in organizing fellow Filipinos in his own community in Gifu Prefecture. There, he helped and assisted distressed and disadvantaged Filipinos in their times of need. He has organized his own community group called UNIFIL-Gifu (United Filipinos in Gifu) which has more than 200 members to date.
He has also connected with other community groups of Filipinos and migrants of other nationalities. Jeppie believed that unifying the community of migrants in Japan can contribute in uplifting their condition in a society which remains prejudiced towards foreign migrants.
Jeppie also teaches Filipino and English languages to Japinos through the Kibou Classroom, kindergarten school established by the Anglican Kani Mission for Filipino Children. His efforts allow these children to be armed with the language skills which could eventually help them get into grade school and high school.
Jeppie may not be purely Filipino, but to those people he has helped and whose lives he touched, he is 100 percent a Bayaning Pilipino.
Charito Itou (Country Finalist)
- Kesennuma Miyagi, Japan
Charito Itou was one of the many Filipino women who worked in a fish factory in Kesennuma City, Miyagi. Like many Filipino workers in the factory, she lost her job after the tsunami hit. Despite her situation, she found the strength to offer her help to those affected by the disaster. She volunteered in searching for missing Filipinos and helped in collecting and distributing relief goods to the victims of the tsunami.
Even before the tragedy, she was already helping fellow Filipinas with their documents and requirements as a point person to the consular service of the Philippine Embassy. She is also part of the group that started a radio program called Bayanihan Kesennuma Radio wherein they used the Filipino language to disseminate information, especially those who are new to the country. Charito takes every opportunity to help her fellow Filipinos, and that makes her a hero to their hearts.
Rachel Takahashi (Country Finalist)
- Kesennuma Miyagi, Japan
Living in Japan for two decades did not diminish Rachel Takahashi’s love for the Philippines. She stayed in Japan after marrying a Japanese contractor for construction materials, but she never forgot her roots. One of the founding members of the organization Bayanihan Kesennuma, she actively participated in activities that would help her fellow Filipinos.
When her family survived the tsunami that his their town and many parts of Japan, she decided to help her fellow Filipinos affected by the disaster. She organized an information drive using social media sites to locate and update her fellow Filipinos’ status in order to disseminate information to their respective relatives. This was just one of the many projects that Rachel conducted to help others, especially Filipinos in need.
Bayanihan Kesennuma Filipino Community (Special Citation)
- Kesennuma Miyagi, Japan
An organization that presently has 74 members, Bayanihan Kesennuma Filipino Community began 18 years ago. It operates by the organization’s participation in community programs and activities. Their network greatly helped in disseminating information to Filipinos who were victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Their radio program gave voices to the victims. This made the distribution of relief goods easier for organizations that extended their help.
Aside from their assistance after the calamity, they also created other programs that helped in the livelihood of their fellow Filipinos. They conducted free seminars and trainings on caregiving, dedicated in helping the Filipinos who lost their jobs after the disaster. They also provided training for those who want to become English teachers. Through these projects, they were able to help more than 40 Filipinos get back on their feet.
Bayanihan Kesennuma Filipino Community is not just an organization but a family, especially for fellow Filipinos that they have helped.
- Jabriya, State of Kuwait
Filipinos abroad came together for various reasons. For the Filipino Badminton Committee Kuwait Philippines Incorporated (FBCKPI), it was their love for badminton that inspired them to start an organization. In the beginning, their intention was to simply gather Filipino badminton enthusiasts in Kuwait. But like any other sports, badminton taught them camaraderie, and it is this virtue that made them more than just a sports organization.
From promoting and organizing regular badminton activities and tournaments, FBCKPI now also serves as a social action group that aims to protect and promote the welfare of overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait. Through the collection of membership and tournament fees, as well as some cash donation, the organization is able to fund projects to help, not just the Filipinos in Kuwait, but also their kababayans back home. In fact, they have recently donated to the victims of typhoon Sendong.
To help their fellow overseas workers in Kuwait, they launched the Libreng Tawag sa Pilipinas project, benefitting 43 Filipinos housed at the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Association) shelter in Kuwait. They were also able to send relief goods to the workers of Medco Cement Factory who were stranded in Kuwait and abandoned by their employers.
Aside from their relief projects, they also participated in educational programs like ABS-CBN Foundation’s Adopt-A-Hometown-School project, sending ETV package donations to towns in Bicol and South Cotabato. In 2008, they also donated to the Tuloy-Aral Scholarship Project of OWWA.
From being a sports organization, FBCKPI is now one of the most trusted and most reliable Filipino organizations in Kuwait. Indeed, they are true champions of nationalism, compassion and heroism.
Computer Society of Filipinos-COMSOFIL (Country Finalist)
- Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Established in 1995, Computer Society of Filipinos International Incorporated (COMSOFIL) intended to create training programs about information and computer technology for overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia.
Through the years, COMSOFIL expanded its training programs with basic photography, basic and advanced autocad, and computer repairs, among others, offering the courses at very affordable prices. They have trained thousands of overseas workers with the goal of enriching their lives and giving them other career opportunities, especially when they decide to go back to the Philippines.
Many beneficiaries of the training programs acknowledged how the trainings have helped them move up in their jobs and provided them with a more promising life abroad. In a sense, COMSOFIL is an advocate of teaching men how to fish instead of just giving them fishes – something worth recognizing for its long term effect on the people they have helped.