President Aquino Wednesday night expressed concern over reports of the high death toll and heavy damage wrought by Typhoon “Pablo” and exhorted successful Filipino professionals abroad to extend help to the hundreds of families grappling with its aftermath.
“I really had so much bad news today from the effects of Typhoon Pablo,” Mr. Aquino began his speech during the awarding of the Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas at Rizal Hall in Malacañang, adding that “the numbers seemed to be alarming.”
“Hopefully, they were erroneous numbers which will be corrected soon,” he added.
The President praised awardee Allan “Apl.de.Ap” Pineda of the Black Eyed Peas for performing “Bebot” that “lifted us up.”
With the typhoon taking its toll despite the preparations and preemptive evacuation, the President aired this appeal to the awardees: “Lend a helping hand.”
“I’m happy to say that we have made progress in how we anticipate and respond to natural disasters. Just as the government has become proactive, I’ve seen a greater spirit of cooperation among Filipino citizens,” he said.
Pineda, Hollywood fashion designer Dianne Monique Lhuillier and Miami Heat coach Fil-American Erik Spoelstra led the 29 recipients of the biennial awards.
Of the three, only Pineda turned up. They were recipients of the Pamana ng Pilipino Awards, which recognizes Filipinos who have brought honor and recognition to the country through their profession.
Their fellow awardees were Mary Jane Al-Mahdi, CEO of the biggest testing laboratory in the Middle East; Dr. Delia Amaya, food technology expert in Brazil; Dr. Samuel Bernal, cancer specialist and lawyer who pioneered in stem cell research; Dr. Antonio Fernando III, an expert in the field of sleep medicine in New Zealand; Almira Astudillo Gilles, award-winning writer of children’s books; Dr. Ruth Elynia Mabanglo, professor of Filipino language and culture in Hawaii; Jorge Ortoll, executive director of Ma-Yi Theater that showcases Asian-American talent; and Dr. Francisca Tolete-Velcek, a pediatric surgeon in New York.
Filipinos or associations who contributed to the promotion and advancement of interests of Filipino communities received the Banaag Awards.
The awardees included engineer Carlito Alpay, lawyer Imelda Argel, Tomas Avendaño Sr., Rafael Castaños, the Filipiniana-Europa V.Z.W., the Filipino Community of Seattle; the Filipino Digerati Association; Luzviminda Micabalo; Al Perez Jr., Lt. Eric Michael Quema, Robert Santos, the Stichting Bayanihan, and Ma. Luzviminda Tsai.
Two foreigners—Israeli medical specialist Dr. Gonen Haba and German reconstructive surgeon Dr. Christian Loehlein—received the Kaanib ng Bayan Award for their significant contribution to Philippine reconstruction, progress and development.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Manuel Cacdac, Dr. Christopher Guerrero and the Aguman Kapampangan UK received the Lingkod sa Kapwa Filipino Awards for their exceptional contribution to the progress and development in the country.