Of Honors And Awards

kutitapWe all feel proud to honor the volunteers and achievers in the community and recognize their dedication and unselfish commitment to the betterment of the Filipino American community where we revolve around. They are special individuals who contributed their time and energy, not expecting anything in return. They serve as living inspiration to us and to our children.
We also thank the organizers of these events for their equally noble deeds of recognizing these outstanding persons. Most admired and preferred were the organizers whose designs are purely to give honors and not for profit goals.
The Dakila Achievement and Awards
The Philippine American Foundation for Charities Inc. recently held its fourth biennial Dakila Achievement Awards Program at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C. The outstanding men and women who excel in their fields, were selected on the basis of their commitment to improving the community, giving of themselves and working with others. The Nominations Committee chaired by respected community leader, Celso Mataac, followed a process of selecting from the communitys nominations. They went through a rigorous process of deliberation and elimination.
The awards were presented to: Noel M. Izon for Arts and Culture; Ernesto Cordero for Community Service; Realista Rodriguez for Education; Dr. Honorato F. Nicodemus for Health Profession and Antonio H. David for Business Leadership. Special Awards were given to Jason Garcia Ignacio for Heritage Awards; Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba for Outstanding Filipino American. Maurese Ovens who had been very dedicated and had been unselfishly and quietly giving of herself to the community, also received a very special award. In the words of Gloria Caoile, who herself was an outstanding leader and the emcee for the day, the award was for the Dakilang Dakila person. Everyone agreed it was.
Because the Dakila was not for profit event, they looked for willing sponsors and donors in the community who shared PAFCs objective of honoring the awardees without monetary requirement attached to keep its integrity intact. Philippine Ambassador to the U.S, Honorable Willy C. Gaa, graced the occasion with Mrs. Linda Gaa and delivered his message as part of the program. The event was a success with the audience promising to attend the next one in 2011.
During the same event, PAFC passed the hat around and was able to raise funds of around One Thousand Two Hundred dollars for the Typhoon Ondoy calamity in the Philippines. We laud the Filipino American community for its generous spirit in time of need.
The White House Executive Chef was recently conferred on the Mama Sita Award for Culinary Excellence hosted by the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. at the Ambassadors residence in Washington, D.C. Comerford received a medal and a plaque of honor, awarded to her by Ambassador Gaa and Ms. Clara Lapus, President of Mama Sita Foundation. Lapus travelled all the way from the Philippines to attend and help arrange the sit-down dinner occasion. The event was by invitation only attended by the guests of the honoree, the awarding party, both U.S. and Philippine based and guests of the Ambassador and Mrs. Linda Gaa.
Being in the food and catering business, soft spoken Clara, as called by friends, brought the Chef and her staff to prepare and serve the gourmet food in the menu, from the appetizer to dessert and drinks, using the products of Mama Sita. It is recalled that the famous Aristocrat Restaurant back in Manila was owned and operated by Teresita Reyes, the mother of Clara. Mama Sita, in fact, started the best in Filipino dining along the Dewey Boulevard, now known as the Roxas Boulevard.
The formal dinner at the Ambassadors residence was enjoyed by everyone with the Ambassador at the head of the long dining table. It was a truly delightful gathering of food and non-food aficionado guests. The formerled by Mrs. Gaa, being herself a gourmet cook. Sony Robles Florendo, author of “Signature Dishes of the Philippines,” was in attendance with her husband, Gerry, and son, Luis. She signed the books of those who bought her second Signature cook book including mine, with a bonus of being invited to her home in Baltimore to taste her cooking. Also in the party was Cecilia de Castro, the Filipina American president of the Academie Culinary Education in Los Angeles, CA. William Yosses, the WH Executive Pastry Chef was a guest of Ms. Comerford together with her husband, John Comerford, the former Executive Chef at the McLean Hilton. Seated next to John, I had the opportunity to ask if his wife cooks Filipino food at home and if he and their 8 year old daughter have now acquired the Filipino taste. The answers were both yes and he added that their daughter, Danielle, had already shown her interest in cooking. It was a delight to chat with Penn and Carole Baluyut, the owner of the Mandarin Chinese restaurant in New York. They invited me and my husband to come to NY to taste the best Dim Sum in town. Nice!
The Mama Sita products can be found in Filipino and Asian groceries and food stores around the Washington, D.C. area. Examples are powder for tocino, palabok and adobo marinades, sinigang, also achuete powder and many more other non perishable items. These products, I was told, were produced to make life a little easier to people. They cut some time preparing their meals.
He won the 2009 DC Mayors Arts Award for Outstanding Emerging Artist and recently was awarded The Kennedy Centers Local Dance Commissioning Project for his work The Mountain, which premiered on the Millennium Stage in September 2009. His passion for dance opened many doors which led to a successful career in dance.
The news spread around the Filipino American community in Washington, DC real fast when he won the Mayors award. This began the numerous invitations coming his way which led to his being given by the Philippine American Foundation for Charities a special award for outstanding achievements in dance. I attended the workshop that he conducted at the Embassy of the Philippines and I found him to have a well balanced personality who injected humor while teaching. I was more focused on his teaching style than what was being taught, a simple folk dance called Carinosa.
The dance work that Ignacio conceived and choreographed called Mountain drew much attention that led to its being commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of Performing Arts for Everyone and the Millennium Stage. Ignacio got his inspiration to work on the theme, Mountain, from two very different mountains in the Philippines. One was the Mt. Pinatubo in Pampanga when the volcano erupted in 1991. Meanwhile a landfill referred to as Smokey Mountain had risen over the years. These mountains provide a rich context to the dance which combined traditional and modern dance forms and cutting edge technology. The presentation was described as “A Soaring presence” by The Washingtonian Magazine.
The venue of the event was at the Hilton Hotel in Mclean. Awards to outstanding persons who have worked all year to make the FARV organization an active and integral force in Republican politics In Virginia were given during the gala ball on September 9, 2009. “These awards have inspired its members to be more committed to their quest for political empowerment,” commented Maurese Owens, FARVs Vice President.
Filipino American Congressman Steve Austria of Ohio and Vietnamese American Congressman Joseph Cao from Louisiana were honored by the organization. Candidates in the upcoming elections were given the opportunity to speak and present their candidacy to the audience. Vellie Deitrich-Hall. FARVs Chairman of the Board, presented awards to its outstanding members in different categories. Bayanihan Awards were given to Glen Logan, Becky Pagsibigan ( also FARVs Secretary) and Evelyn Bunoan while Paz Alvir and Maurese Owens were presented with the Gabriela Silang Awards. Other awards like Kaibigan, Ramon Magsaysay and Parangal ng Lahi were also given to deserving recipients outside the FARV. Ambassador Willy C. Gaa did not make it, but had requested Vice Consul Robert Borje to attend the event and read his message.
A cultural presentation was the entertainment for the evening. Entitled “A Glimpse of Filipino Culture and Heritage,” it was a showcase of the cultural past of the Filipinos as seen through costumes, dance and music. The beautiful Ternos and Barong Tagalog were modeled by the members and friends of FARV. Skill dance numbers were performed like the spectacular “Binasuan” and the popular “Tinikling.”The choir wowed the audience with their lively Philippine songs and music. The whole show was directed by Becky Pagsibigan.

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