TOFA Awards present the upside of diversity
NEW YORK CITY—Amid recent setbacks in immigration reform, there is reason to celebrate the upcoming Filipino American Heritage Month.
On October 28, The Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA) Awards will present outstanding talent from six states across America, underlining the immense value added by immigrant communities to the American way of life.
“The roster of past TOFA awardees reads like an Honor Roll of Filipino and Filipino American achievers,” said Consul General Ma. Theresa B. Dizon-De Vega of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, in her message to TOFA this year.
“Indeed, their contributions to further elevating the presence and role of our kababayans in the diversity, creativity, industry, and heart of the United States are multifarious. This year’s awardees are no less deserving. Coming from different fields… they are the living embodiment of the richness, diversity, commitment, and talent that immigrant communities contribute to the United States,” De Vega added.
Longtime community advocates, Bing Branigin, a founding member of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), and Jason Tengco, NaFFAA’s current executive director, headline this year’s honorees. Branigin will receive the Community Service and Advocacy award, while Tengco, one of the Fil-Am community’s most influential millennials, is receiving the Youth award.
Joining them from the East Coast are White House executive chef Cris Comerford, who will be receiving the Heritage Award; New Jersey residents Ble Yalong, Hazel Sanchez Rapciewicz and Sir Francis Sison—this year’s awardees in the Business and Entrepreneurship, Media and Publishing, as well as Social Welfare and Advocacy categories, respectively; and Sylvia Labial Buhian for Women Empowerment.
Having carried out a nationwide search for the community’s shining examples, TOFA Awards is likewise honoring eight Fil-Ams from the American Southwest.
Five distinguished honorees are from California: photographer Filbert Kung for Arts and Culture, multi-awarded actor Jon Jon Briones for Entertainment, celebrity designer Rocky Gathercole for Fashion and Style, Assemblymember Rob Bonta for Public Service and Politics, and techpreneur Christina Laskowski for Research and Technology.
Gastroenterology specialist Dr. Noel Fajardo, TOFA awardee in the Healthcare category, and Ana Julaton, world-famous boxer and mixed martial arts fighter and now TOFA’s Sports honoree, join the 2017 roster from Las Vegas, Nevada. From Tuczon, Arizona is Courage of Conviction honoree Jessica Cox, the world’s first licensed armless pilot.
“As TOFA evolves and expands recognizing not only the achievements of our community members in the U.S. Northeast but now throughout the United States, we can fully appreciate the breadth and depth of the Filipinos and Filipino-Americans contributions to this country,” De Vega said.
The 7th TOFA Awards night is slated for October 28, 7:30 p.m. at the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall. The event will be keynoted by Philippine Consul General Dizon-de Vega, community icon Loida Nicolas Lewis, immigration lawyer Nicolas Caraquel, Brendan Flores, NaFFAA’s first millennial chairman, and international TV personality Bev Lorente.
“Asia’s King of Talk” Dr. Boy Abunda is on his third year as TOFA’s master of ceremonies. He will be joined by Emmy award-winning TV journlist Katherine Creag (TOFA 2013 honoree and host) from NBC News.
Featured performers are Sheryn Regis, Fe de los Reyes, Dr. Joseph Legaspi, Xtine Mercado, Rasmin Diaz, Toni Gado, Jerome Chan, Excelsa de Jesus, Richard Tuozo, Georgio Dano, Asia Guzman, and award-winning dancing duo Kristian Sese and Mae Lozada. The evening program will be directed by Maestro Bobby Ramiro.
Presented by Wells Fargo, in cooperation with INQUIRER.net and Mountaintop Productions, the 7th Annual TOFA Awards is supported by Courtyard Marriott, Las Vegas Gastroenterology, The Lewis College, 13 Degrees North, Ugly Kitchen, Filipino Reporter, VYNZ-NY Entertainment, The Filipino Express, Alex Santos, Promdi, Holsman Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, ANCOP, Duran Consulting Services, Valles Vendiola LLP, Theodore Minoria, The FilAm Who’s Who, Digital Media Ads New York, and Dr. Crispin Ayroso.
Tickets cost $80 and $120, and are available at CarnegieCharge with telephone number (212) 247-7800.