Filipino scientist, 5 others win Magsaysay awards

Posted on September 02, 2012

A FILIPINO scientist and five others were formally honored for their selfless service to others in the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Friday.

President Benigno S.C. Aquino III hands the Ramon Magsaysay award to University of the Philippines Los Baños plant pathologist and nematologist Romulo G. Davide, who is recognized for “turning farmers into scientist-producers� in Arao, Cebu. -- JLC
Touted as Asia's Nobel Prize, the award is given to “persons -- regardless of race, nationality, creed, or gender -- who address issues of human development in Asia with courage and creativity, and in doing so have made contributions which have transformed their societies for the better.�

University of the Philippines Los Banos plant pathologist and nematologist Romulo G. Davide, recognized for “turning farmers into scientist-producers,� was among those honored with the prestigious award.

His Farmer-Scientist Training Program in Argao, Cebu helped farmers increase the productivity of their lands by teaching them a science-based approach to agriculture.

Other awardees include Chen Shu-Jiu from Taiwan, a vegetable vendor who has given away some $320,000 to charities; Kulandei Francis, a priest who changed women's lives in impoverished parts of India through micro-finance; and Syeda Rizwana Hasan from Bangladesh, an environmental lawyer.

Scientist Yang Saing Koma from Cambodia was recognized for promoting sustainable farming in his country and Indonesian Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto for his advocacy for community-based natural resources management, leading the campaign against illegal logging.

President Benigno S.C. Aquino III and Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation (RMAF) chairman Maria Cynthia Rose Bautista presented the medals and certificates to awardees.

Participants of this year's awards also paid tribute to the late Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, an awardee himself, who died in a plane crash last August 18.

Mr. Robredo received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 2000 in recognition of his services as mayor of Naga City for six three-year terms, or from 1988 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2010.

RMFA paid tribute to Mr. Robredo for “giving credence to the promise of democracy by demonstrating that effective city management is compatible with yielding power to the people.�

The President, in his keynote speech, said Mr. Robredo and the other awardees “stood as bearer of Ramon Magsaysay's legacy.�

“This is the 'Power of Selflessness.' I believe that each and every person who hears your stories will find reason to be more hopeful about the prospects of all humankind,� he told this year's recipients.

The awards were named after Ramon Magsaysay, a former Philippine president known for being close to the masses, who died of a plane crash in 1957.

“When he was President, he shunned the perks of power and opened the doors of Malacañang to any Filipino who wanted their voice heard. Whenever I hear these stories about President Ramon Magsaysay, I cannot help but remember Jesse,� Mr. Aquino said.

Mr. Robredo's remains were laid to rest on Aug. 28 after the two-engine Piper Seneca crashed off the coast of Masbate killing the official and two pilots Capt. Jessup M. Bahinting and Nepalese Kshitiz Chand. Only Mr. Riobredo's aide. S. Insp. June Paolo Abrazado survived the accident.