The Philippine Consulate General in New York and the Hiraya Foundation for Filipino-American Heritage Preservation recently honored a Filipina lawyer-philanthropist seeking a cure for a rare degenerative disease that afflicts Visayan men, and 10 others with the ‘Gawad Alab ng Lahi’ Award.
Lawyer Geraldine Acuna-Sunshine, a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, who is also president of the Sunshine Care Foundation and co-founder of the Collaborative Center for X-Linked Dystonia Parkinsonism, was presented with the Gawad Alab ng Lahi for spearheading efforts to find a cure for the disease that afflicts Filipino males from the Visayas while providing comprehensive support for patients and their families in the Philippines.
The 10 others honored in the first-ever ‘Gawad Alab ng Lahi: Pagkilala sa Mga Natatanging Dangal ng Lahing Pilipino held at the Whitby Theater in Manhattan on July 12, included an American businessman-philanthropist who helped bring the Balangiga Bells back to Samar in the Philippines, and Filipino nurses who have tirelessly served in the frontline against Covid-19 and veterans seeking recognition for Filipino World War II veterans.
The American businessman-philantrophist, Dr. Henry Howard, also serves as Philippine Honorary Consul in Miami, Florida. Aside from helping return the historic Balangiga back to a Samar church, he was also recognized for his scholarship programs in the Philippines.
“Our Gawad Alab ng Lahi awardees bring not only pride and honor to the Filipino race — they are the flames that should inspire all of us to work together to help us achieve our shared aspirations for our country and our people,” Philippine Consul General Elmer Cato said.
“We hope the Gawad Alab ng Lahi will inspire more of our kababayan to stoke the flames of Filipino pride by demonstrating the best of our race in whatever they do,” Dr. Romulo Aromin, President and Chair of the Hiraya Foundation, said.
The other awardees include the Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA), which was recognized for the service and sacrifice of its members, especially during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that claimed the lives of as many as 66 nurses from the Philippines.
Another awardee is Dr. Leo Felix Jurado, Chair of the Nursing Department at the William Patterson University in New Jersey. He was recognized for his role in getting the Philippines included as a testing center for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) that benefited thousands of Filipino nurses.
Likewise recognized were he Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FILVETREP) that was behind the successful efforts that secured the congressional gold medal for Filipino World War II veterans; the Association of Filipino Teachers in America (AFTA); Mayor Arvin Amatorio of Bergenfield, New Jersey; theater actor Miguel Braganza II; Concentrix Philippines; Carnival Cruise Lines; and United Food of Asia.
The awardees each received a mixed media trophy made of wood, metal, glass, and abaca designed by Filipino pop artist Normie Meimban. The rites was hosted by Marc de la Cruz, the first Filipino to play the lead role in the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”
Dela Cruz and singer Kirby Asunto, along with conductor Michael Dadap and the Children’s Orchestra Society, also performed for the audience that was made up of members of the Filipino community.