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Achievements of young Fil-Ams cited in Dr. Jose Rizal Youth Awards

21 December 2015 No CommentEmail This Post Email This Post
Outstanding Filipino-American students

Outstanding Filipino-American students

WASHINGTON, DC—Thirteen young, outstanding Filipino-Americans were recognized for their academic excellence and community service during the Dr. Jose Rizal Youth Awards on 17 December 2015 at the Romulo Hall of the Philippine Embassy.

Now on its 23rd year, the annual award recognizes students from the elementary, high school, and undergraduate levels in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area who epitomize the values of the Philippine National Hero.

This year’s awardees were the following (grade levels during AY 2014-2015):

Trina Sophia LaFortune – 3rd grade, Holy Spirit School

Rebecca Verba Honigford – 4th grade, Our Lady of Good Counsel School

Gerard Gonzaga – 6th grade, J. Michael Lunsford Middle School

Regina Verba Honigford – 6th grade, Our Lady of Good Counsel School

Arianne Arizala – 7th grade, Redland Middle School

Adeline Christelle Baban – 8th grade, St. John Academy

Justin Francis T. Bustamante – 8th grade, St. Peter’s School

Janelle Gonzaga – 9th grade, Freedom High School

Nicholas T. Mañalac – 9th grade, Fairfax High School

Jed Paolo Dela Torre – 10th grade, Benjamin Banneker High School

Joseph Brandon B. Gopiao – 10th grade, Lake Braddock Secondary School

Allan James Phillips – 11th grade, Oakton High School

Jennifer Marie R. Palo – graduate level, Bowie State University

In his keynote address, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. talked about Rizal’s life and urged the awardees to continue learning more about the hero after whom the award is named.

“Jose Rizal’s accomplishments were never achieved before by a Filipino during that time. He realized his potential and he never allowed life’s hardships to stop him from serving his family, fellow men and country. His poem ‘To the Filipino Youth’ appeals to the youth of the past, the present and the future to realize their dreams and be the best that they can be in the service of the greater good,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

He added, “I strongly encourage all of you, especially as Rizal Youth Awardees, to learn more about our national hero by studying his life and reading his works.”

Col. Shirley S. Raguindin, Chief of NGB Diversity at the National Guard Bureau, offered inspirational words to the awardees. In her address, she shared how she aimed high in her studies and career and shared a quote from 11 year old Nkosi Johnson from South Africa, encouraging the young individuals to make the most out of what they have.

“Do what you can in the time that you have, in the place that you are,” said Col. Raguindin.

Three of the awardees shared essays they wrote which were used in the selection process.

Now a 5th grader, Rebecca Verba Honigford from Our Lady of Good Counsel School read her response to the question “If Dr. Jose Rizal could don his Batman suit, what do would be his first big task?”

Meanwhile, 7th grader Regina Verba Honigford responded to the question, “Can you describe how the Filipinos lived during Dr. Jose Rizal’s time?”

Nicholas T. Manalac, now in 11th grade at Fairfax High School answered the question, “Ever the man of peace, how would Dr. Jose Rizal resolve the issue of gun violence in the US?” Jenniber Marie Palo of Bowie State University read her essay on Rizal’s opposing views regarding the Katipunan.

Awardees and guests were also treated to a violin performance by the Baban Trio made up of siblings Ace, Troy, and Adie Baban.

The Dr. Rizal Youth Awards is a joint project of the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. (PAFC) and the Embassy of the Philippines.

PAFC is a non-profit organization formed in 1996 which sponsors charitable, educational, cultural, and emergency assistance projects to help improve the quality of lives of people in the community. ###

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