By Gillian M. Cortez
THE Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF), now marking its 60th year, announced on Thursday its six new awardees for this year, 2018.
The awardees, representing Cambodia, East Timor, India, the Philippines and Vietnam, “are clearly Asia’s heroes of hope,” said RMAF president Carmencita T. Abella.
They are Youk Chhang of Cambodia, Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz of East Timor, Howard Dee of the Philippines, Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk of India, and Vo Thi Hoang Yen of Vietnam.
Youk Chhang was honored for his efforts in preserving the memory of the Cambodian Genocide in the 1970s and turning this as inspiration for his countrymen to attain justice in their society.
Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz was cited for humanitarian action towards the impoverished in East Timor and her efforts in pursuing social justice and peace.
Howard Dee was honored for his charitable services for the Filipino poor while helping them achieve progress in their lives.
Bharat Vatwani was awarded for his dedication towards the mentally-afflicted destitute, showing that restoration of dignity is possible even in the most ostracized in society.
Vo Thi Hoang Yen was cited as an inspiration for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), showing that anyone in society could progress despite their physical condition.
Sonam Wangchuk was cited for producing learning systems in Northern India that have helped improved lives, especially among the Ladakhi youth.
Ms. Abella said, “All are unafraid to take on large causes. All have refused to give up, despite meager resources, daunting adversity, and strong opposition.”
The 2018 laureates will be formally awarded on August 31 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
The Ramon Magsaysay Awards was established in 1957 and is widely deemed the highest honor in Asia. It is given to individuals who possess and showcase exemplary leadership and selfless service like that of the late Philippine president after whom the award is named. To date, there are 330 Magsaysay laureates in the past 60 years, including this year’s awardees.