x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Nominations open for 2014 Filipino presidential awards

Two Filipina expatriates in Dubai, known for their work and community service, and one Dubai-based Filipino group of computer enthusiasts have won awards in the past.

ABU DHABI // Nominations are being accepted for the 2014 Presidential Awards for Filipino individuals and organisations overseas.

The biennial search recognises exceptional individuals and organisations who have been a source of pride and contributed significantly to the development of Filipino communities at home and abroad.

The awards are also conferred on overseas Filipinos who have shown excellence and distinction in their work or profession. The roster of recipients since 1991 includes 367 individuals and organisations and their foreign partners.

Two Filipina expatriates in Dubai, known for their work and community service, and one Dubai-based Filipino group of computer enthusiasts have won awards in the past.

In 2010, Wafa Roscales Kasimieh, a senior adviser at Dubai's Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, won the Presidential Banaag Award, which recognises the achievements and contributions of Filipinos overseas.

"Although this award is dear and important to me, my real motivation is the happiness I see in the eyes and the comfort in the hearts of the suffering among our people," she said.

Ms Kasimieh, who also won the 2011 Bagong Bayani (new heroes) award for community and social service, is known for her charity work with prisoners.

She visits her compatriots in Dubai and Sharjah jails, and at police detention centres to offer counselling and spiritual guidance.

Mary Jane Alvero-Al Mahdi, the chief executive of Geoscience Testing Laboratory, received the Presidential Pamana ng Pilipino Award from Benigno Aquino, the Philippine president, in December last year.

"The Presidential Award proves that women are starting to make a crack in the glass ceiling," she said.

The non-profit Filipino Digerati Association, which she co-founded, also won the Presidential Banaag Award. Ms Alvero-Al Mahdi is one of the volunteer trainers of this group, which provides free computer training courses and workshops in professional development and project management for Filipinos.

She also won the 2009 Bagong Bayani for most outstanding employee and the Blas F Ople Award for Natatanging Bagong Bayani, the highest and most coveted recognition given to exemplary overseas Filipinos.

Both women believe many of their compatriots and Filipino organisations in the UAE also deserve to win.

"There are many unsung heroes in the Filipino community," Ms Kasimieh said. "They should also be recognised for their invaluable contribution."

Ms Alvero-Al Mahdi said some individuals and community groups tended to doubt their capabilities.

"They should have more confidence in themselves and in their talents, skills and achievements," she said.

Nominations for next year's Presidential Awards close on May 31. For more information, visit the Commission on Filipinos Overseas website cfo.gov.ph

rruiz@thenational.ae