Third Annual The Outstanding Filipino Americans Award Night in New York

Article by Yvonne Lo
Photo by Niko

The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA-NY) was organized by founder and N.Y. based journalist Elton Lugay, for a night of recreating, reenacting and reconnecting with Filipino roots, a fitting culmination to Filipino American Heritage Month in October. The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA-NY) Awards was held on Saturday night, October 26, at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, the official venue of the TOFA-NY Awards ceremonies for the past three years.

Consul General Mario de Leon Jr.

Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. and Consul Zaldy B. Patron all attended the ceremony while Judge Lorna Schofield of the Southern District of New York was a keynote speaker. Event was hosted by Katherine Creag who also is this year’s TOFA winner.

Katherine Creag

This year’s TOFA winners in their respective fields are: Sibyl Santiago (Arts and Culture), Jaena Valles (Business and Entrepreneurship), Maya Rowencak (Community Service and Advocacy), Jen Furer (Courage of Conviction), Marietta Geraldino (Education, Research, and Technology), Christine Sienicki (Entertainment), and Guenevere Rodriguez (Fashion and Style).

Sibyl Santiago

Aris Tuazon

Also, winners include Aris Tuazon (Food and Restaurants), Menchu Sanchez (Health Care), Irma Bajar (LGBT Advocacy), Katherine Creag (Media and Publishing), Atty. Rio Guerrero (Public Service and Politics), and Esperanza Garcia (Youth and Sports).

Joe Bataan

The Heritage Awardees are Joe Bataan, Filipino-African Latin soul musician; Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national organization that primarily provides pro bono legal services; Foundation for Filipino Artists Inc., co-producers of the New York stage debut of “Noli Me Tangere, the Opera”; and Monique Lhuillier, leading couture bridal designer. Lhuillier was unable to attend but sent a message of thanks. Real estate professional Edwin Josue accepted the award for Aida Bartolome of the Foundation for Filipino Artists, Inc. The awardees recalled their personal immigration stories in their speeches. Some even advanced their personal advocacies in their acceptance speeches.

Irma Bajar

Irma Bajar dedicated her LGBT Advocacy award to all gay Filipinos who have been “bullied, beaten, abandoned, murdered and isolated from their families.” As a queer Filipina, she told The FilAm she had experienced being a victim of a hate crime. She would like, she said, for the award to serve as an inspiration to those who face discrimination because of their gender choice.

DCG Zaldy Patron, Lumen Castaneda, Marietta Geraldino, Judge Lorna Schofield

Esperanza Garcia (Youth and Sports) called on the youth to never waver in their support of a sustainable future; lawyer Rio Guerrero (Public Service & Politics) equated ‘pro bono’ service to Filipinos helping fellow Filipinos; Menchu Sanchez (Health Care) said she hoped her story would call attention to the work of nurses not only in New York but around the world; and Marietta Geraldino (Education, Research & Technology) said her award celebrates the impact of FilAm teachers in the lives of young children.

PCSNJ Youth Group

Jared Martin, Christine Joyce Lam, John Pio, Kirby Asunto, April Talangbayan, PCSNJ Youth Group, Heritage Award winner Joe Bataan, and Las Vegas’ Siren of the Strip Lani Misalucha also performed.

Lani Misalucha

Besides Lugay, health care expert Sally Nunez, award-winning multimedia journalist Cristina DC Pastor, multi-award winning marketer Grace Labaguis, and public relations consultant and Broadway news editor Oliver Oliveros also make up this year’s TOFA-NY board of directors. Founder Elton Lugay spoke on behalf of the TOFA-NY board and producers and congratulated all winners for being models of courage and professionalism, hard work and dedicated service.

Kirby Asunto

Christine Joyce Lam

John Pio

April Talangbayan

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