By Fil-Am Observer Staff
NINE/ELEVEN… As the people of United States remember the terrorist attack that brought down the Twin Towers in New York City nine years ago and changed the lives of Americans forever, twenty outstanding Filipinos will be honored at a Grand Gala Banquet & Ball in the Grand Ballroom of the J. W. Marriott Hotel in
, Saturday evening, September 11. In a real sense, the Twenty Outstanding Filipinos Abroad (TOFA) awards are a testimony to the steadfast spirit and resilience of a people in working for better communities and a better world amid lurking destructive forces. Washington, D.C.
Awardees are selected on the basis of their accomplishments and their visibility in their respective communities or professions, their contributions in promoting "things
" and in assisting the Philippines , and their highlighting "positive Filipino image". Philippines
Four of the twenty honorees are from
: Lito Alcantara of Hawaii , Tony Ramil of Ewa Beach Maui, Felix Agraan of , and Joni B. Redick-Yundt of Mililani. Waipahu
Alcantara, from San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, is the president of Group Builders, Inc., Honolulu-based general and specialty contractors, with specialties in acoustics, drywall, lath and plaster, fireproofing, insulation, millwork, cabinets and EIFS. He holds a BS in civil engineering from Mapua Institute of Technology. He has received numerous awards as a businessman and community leader including the first Entrepreneur Award (1989) presented by the Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Regional Ministry Contract of the Year (1994) by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency, Outstanding Engineer of the Year (1994) by the Filipino-American League of Engineers and Architects, and the Progress Award for Lifetime Achievement (2006) by the United Filipino Community Council of Hawaii. He was recognized with the Outstanding Overseas Filipino award by Pres. Fidel Ramos in 1996. As president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, Alcantara played a key role in the building of the
at FilCom Center . Waipahu
Ramil, from Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, is a 1965 College of Law graduate of the University of the Philippines, and became the first foreign law school graduate to be admitted to the Hawaii State bar in 1976. He was among the bar topnotchers, placing ninth among the successful examinees in the 1965 Philippine bar examinations. While engaged in the practice of law, he has been active in community service for more than 30 years--Maui Jaycees, March of Dimes,
PTA/PTSA, Hawaii Committee for the Humanities, Maui Economic Opportunity, Salvation Army, Bonsai Club, the United Filipino Council of Hawaii, Binhi At Ani, Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce and other Filipino-oriented organizations, among others. He has received numerous awards including Outstanding Jaycee of the Year (1973) by the Maui Jaycees, Thomas Jefferson Award (1989) presented by The Honolulu Advertiser and the American Institute of Public Service, and the Lae'ula Award (2006) by the Maui Historical Society. He was recognized one of the 100 Outstanding Citizens of the in 2005 when the county celebrated the centennial of its establishment. In 2008 he and wife, Luz, were recognized Parents of the Year by the Philippine Cultural Foundation of Hawaii. In 2009 the United Filipino Council of Hawaii presented him its top Progress Award for Lifetime Achievement. County of Maui
Agraan holds a BS in civil engineering and in sanitary engineering from
and has been employed since 1989 as a civil engineer with the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. He hails from Tamdagan, Vintar, Ilocos Norte, and he is president of the Surong Valley Association International, which has been extending help, like medical supplies and school improvements, to the National University area in the Surong Valley . Philippines
Redick-Yundt grew up in a Philippine town that had no running water or electricity, and has become a highly respected businesswoman and community leader. She is founder and president of Business Networking International, Million Dollar Chapter, and founder and CEO of Filipino American Multi-Ethnic Society, which offers and undertakes mentoring, educating, motivating and leadership development for entrepreneurs and business owners. She has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration with the Woman Business Advocate Award of the Year. He was Top Ten finalist, among more than 1,000 nominees, for the Volunteer Woman of the Year Award, sponsored by the Pacific Business News. She presented the Outstanding Community Volunteer Award by the Hawaii Filipino Women's Club. She has won the titles of Mrs. Hawaii United States and also Mrs. Honolulu International.
There are also four honorees from the State of Virginia, namely Pablito Alarcon (Leesburg), founder, Feed the Hungry, Inc.; Nita Palting Cacanindin (Virginia Beach), president, Council of Filipino Nurses for Cultural Advancement; Jess Gatchalian (Springfield), co-founder and co-executive director, Migrant Heritage Commission; and Solita Magahum Wakefield (Arlington), president, World Bank Group IMF Filipino Staff Association.
There are two honorees from
: Carl Abella ( Maryland ), president-owner, Bethesda
Alpha Travel Service, promoting Philippine Embassy programs like the Ambassador's Tour; and Dino Doliente
III, MBA, BSN, RN (Owing Milss), spearheaded first Philippine Nurses Association Maryland Chapter, undertaking medical mission in . Davao City
There are also two honorees from New York: Nida Cortez (Queens), president, San Lorenzo de Manila, Inc., a peer educator, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition for HIV/Aids; and Jorge Z. Ortoll (New York City), executive director, Ma-Yi Theater Company, recipient of nine Obie awards for outstanding stage production by off-Broadway theater company.
Completing the list of honorees are: Romualdo Aragon, Jr., M.D. (Las Vegas, Nevada), president, Prime Care Medical Service, Inc., extending free health screening, flu shots, Consular outreach; key player in fundraising for local charities and assistance to the Philippines; leader in annual celebration of Filipino American history month; Edna Concepcion (Bonita California), co-founder and chairperson, Philippine American Business Improvement and Development, instrumental in passage of AB420, legislation enabling teaching of Filipino language in California; Evelyn Bagtas Ferguson (Pfafftown, North Carolina), registered nurse, owner, E. B. Ferguson Realty, Inc., pioneer Filipino realtor in North Carolina; Renato Gorospe, M.D. (Nassau, Bahamas), served as senior medical officer, Ministry of Health, opened clinic after retiring in 1996 and became large supporter of St. Martin Convent; Linda Mayo (Jersey City, New Jersey), in 1998 appointed and served as deputy mayor of Jersey City, and became the first Filipino elected official in Hudson County when she won election to the Board of Education; president and executive director, Pan American Concerned Citizens Action League, Inc.
Ed Pamintuan (Angeles City, Pampanga), newly elected mayor, also previously served as mayor, Angeles City, pushed for fast-track development of former Clark Air Force Base, appointed as general manager of the National Housing Authority, recognized with the Order of Lakandula by then Pres. Gloria Arroyo; George Samson (Sterling Heights, Michigan), CEO, World Medical Relief, providing donations of medical equipment, supplies and medicines to 130 developing countries with the Philippines as the biggest recipient; and Norma Flores Vohra (Beaconfield, Quebec, Canada), received the first Mireile Ducrois award from Maimondes Hospital for nursing excellence, hailed as the doyenne of beauty pageants in Montreal, first Mrs. Philippines-Montreal (1997); was regional director of Canadian search for Miss Universe contestant; co-founder of Philippine Center Foundation of Greater Montreal.
In its 20th year, the TOFA project is sponsored by Filipino Image Magazine and Pinoy Global Online News with Nonoy and Aida Mendoza of
, as the major financial backers. Rosslyn, Virginia
The 2010 TOFA Schedule of Activities includes
VIP Get Together hosted by the Mendozas, Thursday evening, Sept. 9; VIP Luncheon, Friday noon, and Philippine Embassy Dinner Reception, Friday Evening; VIP Photo OP at Various Washington Historical Sites, Saturday morning, VIP Luncheon Dim Sum Reception, Saturday noon, and the evening Gala Banquet & Ball, followed by After-the-Ball Traditional Filipino Breakfast hosted by the Mendozas.