Fil-Ams from Chicago, Florida, LA, DC among TOFA awardees | Global News

Fil-Ams from Chicago, Florida, LA, DC among TOFA awardees

/ 12:34 AM October 05, 2016


 Mary Blanco               Pia Wurtzbach          Ruben & Janet Nepales


NEW YORK CITY – In what is the start of a nationwide search for outstanding Filipino Americans, The Outstanding Filipino Americans (TOFA) Awards this year is throwing its spotlight beyond the New York tri-state area.

For the Sixth Annual TOFA Awards, six outstanding Fil-Ams from Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles and Washington, DC will join New York-based honorees on stage at the Carnegie Hall on Saturday, Oct. 8.


“Starting with the Sixth Annual TOFA Awards, our success stories will come from more places nationwide, any place where we find the Filipino spirit shining through,” said Elton Lugay, TOFA founder and executive producer. “We expect to be pleasantly surprised by the discoveries that await us in the years to come.”

Atty. Billy Dec, the only Fil-Am commissioner appointed to the White House Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, is TOFA’s honoree for Business and Entrepreneurship. Aside from being an Emmy Award-winning TV personality, lawyer and restaurateur, he is the CEO/founder of Rockit Ranch Productions and is involved in various non-profit organizations in Chicago.

Linda Lito  Josh Fred

Linda de los Reyes       Lito Gajilan          Josh Sembrano          Dr. Fred Andes

Florida-based Brendan Flores, national chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), takes the Community Service and Advocacy award for his longstanding advocacy especially of diversity initiatives.

From Washington, DC, Marie Blanco, vice-chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FILVETREP), is the Public Service and Politics honoree for serving the veterans’ cause for more than 30 years.

Award-winning journalists Ruben and Janet Nepales, the first and only Filipino members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) that presents the Golden Globe Awards, are recognized this year in TOFA’s Entertainment category. Based in Los Angeles, the Nepaleses are distinguished for their coverage of Filipino talents who are excelling in world entertainment and profiles of Hollywood stars.


Also from Los Angeles, Camille Araullo, the manager of volunteer resources at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, is recognized for LGBT Advocacy in the Sixth Annual TOFA Awards.

CrisFeErno  Mario

Dr. Cris Ayroso Jr.     Fe Martinez     Erno Hormillosa     Amb. Mario de Leon Jr.

Leading the roster of honorees from New York is Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach, who has been based in the Big Apple since winning the title last year. She is TOFA’s honoree for Fashion and Style because nothing channels “class” better than her quiet elegance amid the furor of her crowning moment.

Aries Dela Cruz, a proud community leader, organizer and educator since high school, who is the man behind last February’s “Tell Nike It’s Time To #DropPacMan” petition on, is TOFA’s Courage of Conviction awardee.

Also honored this year in their respective fields are Erno Hormillosa for Arts and Culture; Dr. Fred Andes for Education, Research and Technology; Linda De los Reyes, founder of Pandan Asian Cuisine, in the Food and Restaurants category; Dr. Crispin Ayroso Jr. for Healthcare; Lito Gajilan, founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Filipino Express, in the Media and Publishing category; Fe Martinez for Senior Welfare and Advocacy; as well as Josh Sembrano for Youth and Sports.

A special Heritage Award is being given to Ambassador Mario L. de Leon Jr., whose six-year tour of duty in New York saw greater outreach to second-generation and other younger Fil-Ams owing to his policy of inclusiveness.

Excitement is brewing over the upcoming Sixth Annual TOFA Awards night, as the legendary Ryan Cayabyab is slated to join the evening’s performers, along with baritone Joseph Legaspi.

Billy Camille-300x360 Brendan  Aries-300x185

Billy Dec                    Camille Araullo       Brendan Flores          Aries de la Cruz

Headline performances by Filipino celebrities Mark Bautista, Erik Santos and Angeline Quinto have been announced. “Asia’s King of Talk” Boy Abunda returns to host the show.

U.S. Federal Judge Lorna Schofield and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis are keynoting the event, along with Atty. Billy Dec and Ambassador De Leon.

Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis, New York City Commission on Human Rights chair and last year’s TOFA awardee for Public Service and Politics, will be representing Mayor Bill de Blasio at the event.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has paid tribute to Fil-Ams. “This event brings together Filipino Americans who are the best in their field … These individuals inspire future leaders and have earned well-deserved praise from a grateful community,” Cuomo said in his message to TOFA Awards.

Co-presented by Oro Women’s Society and Jerasyl Entertainment, the Sixth Annual TOFA Awards are sponsored by AARP, Western Union, Philippine Airlines, LBC, Wells Fargo, and Novo Nordisk.

Event tickets ($80-150) may be purchased via, or call CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, Monday–Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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TAGS: " Golden Globes, awards for outstanding Filipino Americans, FilvetRep, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sixth Annual TOFA Awards, The Outstanding Filipino Americans (TOFA) Awards
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