Philippine President Benigno Aquino Awards Fil-Am Community Organizer Al Perez at the Malacañang Palace

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Al Perez with (from left) Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.  Photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

Al Perez with (from left) Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. Photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA – President Benigno S. Aquino III honored San Francisco community organizer Al Perez at the 2012 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas awarding ceremony at the Malacañang Palace on December 5, 2012.

The Banaag Award was given to Al Perez, San Francisco Entertainment Commissioner and president of the Filipino American Arts Exposition for his instrumental role in developing a sense of pride in Philippine cultural heritage among members of the Filipino American community in the San Francisco Bay Area and for his leadership initiatives that have resulted in a deeper appreciation of Philippine culture by members of the community at large.

Philippine Consul General to San Francisco Marciano A. Paynor, Jr. extended his warmest congratulations to Mr. Perez, saying, “Al has been a staunch supporter and advocate for Philippine culture and Filipino heritage, and has worked closely with the Consulate in San Francisco for projects that promote awareness of the Philippines. We are proud to know that his hard work has been recognized by the Philippine Government, and look forward to collaborating with him on other events and projects.”

“I have personally known Al since 2004 and I consider him a strategic partner in our coalition building efforts”, added Marily Mondejar, President of the Filipina Women’s Network.

“For his unselfish work and continuing dedication to community service, Al Perez merits recognition from his beloved homeland,” said San Francisco Civil Service Commissioner Dennis Normandy.

The tradition of searching for exemplary achievers who have shown excellence in their professions and active involvement in support service for Filipino communities worldwide was initiated by former President Corazon C. Aquino. Since the awards inception in 1991, this biennial recognition has been conferred on 338 awardees from 44 countries.  There are an estimated 10 million overseas Filipinos in more than 200 countries worldwide. The Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas serves to highlight the celebration of the “Month of Overseas Filipino” in December.

The Presidential Awards has the following four categories: “Banaag” awardees are Filipino individuals or associations who are honored for their contributions towards the promotion and advancement of the interests of overseas Filipino communities. “Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino” are Filipino individuals and organizations overseas who are honored for their exceptional contribution to the progress and development in the Philippines. “Pamana ng Pilipino” awardees are Filipino individuals overseas who have brought the country honor and recognition through excellence and distinction in the pursuit of their work or profession. “Kaanib ng Bayan” awardees are foreign individuals or organizations honored for their significant contribution to Philippine reconstruction, progress and development, or have advanced the cause of overseas Filipino communities.

Of the 29 awardees, 24 are individuals while 5 are organizations. Some of the 2012 Presidential Awardees include Mr. Allan Pineda Lindo, better known as “Apl.de.Ap,” the hip-hop icon of the famous Black Eyed Peas; Mr. Eric Spoelstra, the first Filipino American head coach of the Miami Heat who won the 2012 U.S. National Basketball Association championship; Ms. Monique Lhuillier, a leading bridal couturier and fashion designer for the stars of Hollywood.The awardees came from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

This year’s awardees were selected from a total of 137 nominations from 26 countries through 35 Philippine Embassies and Consulates. Given the estimated 10 million overseas Filipino in more than 200 destinations worldwide who contribute to the productivity and well-being of their countries of residence and employment, these outstanding members of the Philippine diaspora represent the best of the best. They are a living proof that our capacity for hard work coupled with the Filipinio bayanihan spirit are a winning combination that knows no bounds.

According to Commission on Filipinos Overseas Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas, “This ceremony is the country’s way of thanking our awardees for re-imagining the meaning of being Filipino in a globalized world and for making us realize that living in and between two homes – local and global, and connecting both – can be empowering for Filipinos everywhere and the motherland.”

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