MANILA, Philippines -- A Filipino psychologist has received the prestigious 2008 International Humanitarian Award from the Washington-based American Psychological Association (APA).
Philippine Ambassador to Washington Willy Gaa, in a statement posted on the embassy?s website, congratulated Dr. Gundelina Velazco for being the first Filipino to win the award.
Velazco was also a ?Pamana ng Pilipino Presidential Awardee? in 2004 for outstanding achievements in her field as an international counseling psychologist working with street children.
In his letter to Dr. Velazco, Gaa noted that this award from the APA recognized and validated Velazco?s extraordinary humanitarian service as a psychologist working in the field to care for and prevent child exploitation and the trafficking of children.
?This only goes to show the valuable contribution and the important role the Filipino American community continues to play, not only in their respective communities here in the United States but also for their homeland, the Philippines, and the Filipino people,? the ambassador said.
According to the APA website, Velazco is a member of the British Psychological Society and the former chair of the Psychology Department of De La Salle University in the Philippines, where she was also the director of institutional testing, evaluation, and research.
From 1996-1998, she served as a consultant to the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development whose social workers she trained. From her international research, fieldwork, and counseling work, she became interested in the psychology of traumatized children and in dealing with the problems of different types of children at risk.
In 1999, Velazco decided to devote her career fulltime to working with street children and victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation.
She has designed and directed training programs for workers handling children at risk, headed international research projects, and designed products and materials suitable for particular groups of children in different parts of the world.
She is currently the Director of Aftercare for Justice for Children International (JFCI), a US-based NGO working towards the abolition of child exploitation and trafficking.
APA is a non-governmental organization enjoying special consultative status at the United Nations with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and also has relations with the Department of Public Information, also at the UN.
It has around 3,500 international affiliate members composed of psychologists who are members of their own national psychology associations and enjoy APA affiliate member status.