Robredo, Jessica Soho honored as TOFA goes global | Global News

Robredo, Jessica Soho honored as TOFA goes global

/ 06:43 PM November 14, 2023

TOFA 2023 awardees.

The TOFA 2023 awardees

LOS ANGELES, California–The Outstanding Filipino Awards (TOFA) made a historic leap this year by expanding its recognition to outstanding Filipinos globally, honoring individuals like former Vice President Leni Robredo and May Parsons, the first to administer a COVID-19 vaccine in the UK.

The awards gala at Zipper Hall on October 27 marked the organization’s first global event, celebrating Filipino excellence worldwide.


Elton Lugay, TOFA’s founder and CEO, emphasized the importance of recognizing the global Filipino diaspora.


“We are taking this bold step because, as an award-giving platform, we understand that outstanding Filipinos are not only in New York or the East Coast, not just in LA or the entire United States. Filipinos are everywhere,” he said.

“The Filipino diaspora spans over 100 countries, and our aim moving forward is to bring our gala to different locations around America and eventually overseas, allowing more local audiences to experience what TOFA truly represents,” said Lugay, who founded TOFA in 2010 with a vision to recognize the community’s unsung heroes alongside top achievers, and make them part of the annual commemoration of Filipino American History Month.

Awards were given to Robredo for courage of conviction, Parsons for healthcare, Supreme Court Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo for public service, veteran journalist Jessica Soho for media, Miss Universe R’Bonney Gabriel for women empowerment, and the Broadway production “Here Lies Love” for entertainment.

Robredo, in her acceptance speech, highlighted the global impact of Filipinos.

“For all our difficulties as a people, there is no denying that Filipinos are a gift to the world,” Robredo said.

“(W)hether it’s through our top-caliber artists, the brightest of our scholars, the most skilled and committed of our seafarers and workers, our community of self-made entrepreneurs or the hospitality that we embrace each visitor with back home,” she said.

Former Vice President Leni Robredo receives TOFA award

Global awardee Atty. Leni Robredo flanked by California Attorney General Rob Bonta (left) and Brendan Flores, national chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).

Parsons, honored for her role in healthcare, dedicated her award to Filipino nurses worldwide, acknowledging their sacrifices during the pandemic.

“I am so proud to be one of you. What we’ve endured during the pandemic has only strengthened a belief I’ve always held: the sacrifice we make in the name of love and service to others is truly worth it,” said Parsons, who flew in from London to receive the award.

The famous nurse from Britain’s National Health Service also announced she would soon launch the May Parsons Foundation.

The event also recognized Filipino-American awardees with remarkable stories of overcoming humble beginnings.

Among them, Dr. Astrid Tuminez, an education awardee, shared her journey from the slums of Iloilo City to becoming the president of Utah Valley University. Dermatologist Tess Mauricio, awarded for beauty and wellness, recounted her immigrant story from living in one of San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods to becoming a renowned dermatologist.

The gala, hosted by Asia’s King of Talk, Dr. Boy Abunda, also celebrated Filipino American History Month.

Abunda connected the event to the historical ties between the Philippines and Zipper Hall’s namesake, Herbert Zipper, who conducted the Manila Symphony Orchestra during World War II.

Over the past decade, TOFA has established itself as a premier event within the Filipino community, honoring over 200 Filipino-American individuals and organizations, including notable figures such as Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, Academy Award winner Bobby Lopez, and Olympic Gold Medalist Lee Kiefer.

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TOFA’s expansion to a global platform marks a significant milestone in honoring the achievements and contributions of Filipinos worldwide, celebrating their diverse talents and inspiring stories of success and service.

This article was generated with the aid of artificial intelligence and reviewed by an editor.

TAGS: AI Generated Content, Awards, outstanding Filipinos

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