New York fetes 12 Outstanding Fil-Ams
IN AWARDING ceremonies at Carnegie Hall last Oct. 27, this year’s The Outstanding Filipinos in the New York Tri-State (TOFA-NY) were given to 12 individuals:
Eduardo Sicangco (Arts & Culture); Edwin Josue (Business & Entrepreneurship); Yves Nibungco (Community Service & Advocacy); Agnes ‘Bing’ Magtoto (Education & Research); Kirby Asunto (Entertainment); Danelle Izza Dungca (Fashion & Style); Anthony and Lisa Siopongo (Food & Restaurants); Jona Jane Tajonera (Health Care); Cecilio Asuncion (LGBT Advocacy); Ryan Songalia (Media & Publishing); Mayor Guillermo Udarbe (Public Service & Politics); Advancement for Rural Kids, Inc. (Youth & Sports).
They garnered the highest Facebook votes in their respective categories in the Fil-American community.
Five community organizations were honored with Heritage Awards for bringing committed service to the community over the years. They are the Association of Fil-Am Teachers of America NY-NJ; Ma-Yi Theatre Company; Philippine American Chamber of Commerce; the San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir of New York and the Philippine Nurses Association.
What this recognition means is that “Filipinos are capable of achieving great things,” said Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. in a speech lauding the honorees for “making Filipino-American history.”
October is Filipino-American history month in the United States.
Many of the awardees dedicated their awards to family, friends and the community. Agnes Magtoto, a language and culture teacher at the New York University, dedicated hers to her mother Amelia, who passed away just days before the ceremony. “To my mom who could not pursue her dream of teaching Filipino … I will fulfill your dream,” she said in an emotional speech.
Cecilio Asuncion, who produced and directed the “What’s the T” documentary on the transgender community, thanked his parents. “I never had a chance to tell my father that I was gay. Now in front of you I can tell him: Not only am I a gay man, I am an outstanding Filipino gay man,” he declared to energetic applause from the audience.
Many of the awardees quoted from their favorite book, author or movie to express gratitude. Singer Kirby Asunto dedicated her award to aspiring singers, borrowing a line from the movie ‘Cinderella:’ “If you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.”
TOFA-NY is an independent search to honor the exemplary Filipinos within the New York Tri-State. The board is composed of founder and executive producer Elton Lugay, producers Myrna de Guia-Gutierrez, Roland Gutierrez, Grace Labaguis, Ronald Labaguis, and Cristina DC Pastor. The FilAm
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