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6 Filipino heroes honored at Insular Life, JCI Senate Phils awards

If a country’s gross national product can be measured by the number of outstanding citizens it produces, then the Philippines could be a wealthy nation.

In a speech honoring the six winners of the 2010 The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) awards jointly sponsored by the JCI Senate Philippines and The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Vice President Jejomar Binay said modern-day heroes serve as a reminder that “despite our problems and weaknesses, we remain a country capable of excellence.”

The TOFIL awards annually pays tribute to the country’s men and women, 41 years and above, who have contributed significantly to the upliftment of the lives of their fellow Filipinos in particular, and humanity, in general.

The Vice President said each one of the six 2010 TOFIL awardees is “a treasure in his or her own field. Together they constitute an enormous resource that increases incalculably the nation’s resource base and should make any country proud.”

The six Filipinos who were honored recently were: Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral for Government Service; Dr. Ray L. Catague for Public Health; Dr. Isagani R. Cruz for Literature; Ms. Shirley Halili-Cruz for Arts and Culture; Dr. Anthony C. Leachon for Medicine; and Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J. for Education.

Dr. Cabral, who spent more than 30 years in public service as a teacher, scientist and physician, was honored for taking on daunting roles in the government as Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Health, and introducing groundbreaking programs that benefited the poorest of the poor.

Dr. Catague, a Provincial Health Officer, was recognized for his untiring work in North Cotabato province that led to the significant reduction of health risks, unwanted pregnancies, and the spread of HIV/AIDS, among other things.

Dr. Cruz, a writer, newspaper columnist, book reviewer, publisher, cultural worker, former Cabinet Department of Education Undersecretary, and teacher, promoted the advancement of Philippine literature here and abroad.

Ms. Halili-Cruz, founder and artistic director of the world-class Halili-Cruz School of Ballet, was awarded for her commitment to the promotion of Philippine arts locally and globally that brought pride and honor to the country.

Dr. Leachon, a top internist and cardiologist of Manila Doctors Hospital and Medical and Regulatory Affairs director of Pfizer Philippines, was cited for being a staunch public health advocate through the Health Education Reform Order (H.E.R.O.) of 2006, which promotes comprehensive health education and disease prevention.

Fr. Tabora, outgoing President of the Ateneo de Naga University, earned the recognition for making Ateneo de Naga the most modern and technologically equipped institution in the Bicol region.

During their interview prior to the awards night, the awardees took the opportunity to call attention to tackling current challenges in their own fields.

“This is a time when as Filipinos, can reverse the tide from apathy to commitment and from cynicism to renewed hope. I boldly take this platform of the TOFIL awards and the resounding sound it can trumpet to echo the call to government and all health human resources, public and private, to deliver the long overdue health improvement in our country,” said Dr. Leachon.

For his part, Dr. Cruz, literary writer and founder of the Manila Critics Circle, underscored the need to build a nation of readers. “To read today is an act of heroism, an act of hope. It is an act of heroism because it means going against the tide. It is an act of hope because it means going for sustained thinking, rather than the compartmentalized, short-lived thrills that we get from reading a newspaper or a blog or a post in Facebook. It means sitting down and talking, not with flesh-and-blood persons around us or online, but with authors long dead but who used to be as flesh-and-blood as we are, who had all kinds of things to say about what it really means to be human,” he said.

In his speech during the ceremony, incoming Ateneo de Davao University President Fr. Tabora said, “May the recognition of this heroism be a source of hope for all of our youth and all of our people and a source of enduring inspiration.”

The TOFIL awards has already recognized a total of 110 outstanding Filipinos since its inception in 1988. The 2010 TOFIL awards ceremonies, which carried the theme “Of Hope and Heroes,” were held at the Insular Life Auditorium at the Insular Life Corporate Centre in Alabang, Muntinlupa City last December.

Six Filipinos conferred the 2010 TOFIL award. Six change agents were recently honored in formal ceremonies led by Vice President of the Philippines Jejomar C. Binay (center), Insular Life Chairman and CEO Vicente R. Ayllón, and JCI Senate Phils. National President Bernard Ong (6th and 8th from left, respectively). The 2010 TOFIL awardees are: Dr. Ray L. Catague represented by his wife, Mrs. Catague, Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral, Dr. Isagani R. Cruz (3rd, 4th and 5th from left, respectively), Ms. Shirley Halili-Cruz, Dr. Anthony C. Leachon, and Father Joel E. Tabora, S.J. (5th, 6th and 7th from right, respectively). With them are (L-R): JCI Sen. Humawi Bernardo, Insular Life Senior AVP Ana Soriano, TOFIL Committee Chair JCI Sen. Louie Pabalan, Jr., and TOFIL Search Committee Chair JCI Sen. Joe Justo.


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