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Recipients of the 2017 Dr. Jose Rizal Youth Awards with Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto, Philippine Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission (3rd from left, middle row), Aylene Mafnas, President of the Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. (4th from left, middle row); and Gloria Federigan, PAFC Board Member and Chair of the 2017 Dr. Jose Rizal Youth Committee (2nd from left, middle row) held at the Romulo Hall of the Philippine Embassy, Washington, D.C. on Dec. 15, 2017.


WASHINGTON — Seventeen young Filipino-American students from various schools in Metro DC are this year’s honorees of the 25th Dr. Jose Rizal Youth Awards held at the Romulo Hall of the Philippine Embassy on Dec. 15, 2017.

The students, who are in elementary, middle school and high school, underwent a two-step process to be selected, including the submission of personal essays on topics related to the Philippine National hero’s life.

“The Embassy’s support for the Rizal Youth Awards stems from the national belief that the youth represents progress. The Philippines, home to more than 35 million individuals under the age of 15, has always been mindful of the youth’s potential and that the government has the responsibility to cultivate their gifts and instill values in them,” said the Philippine Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto, in his keynote address.

“Jose Rizal had a lot of faith in the youth. Through his timeless works, he perpetually encourages young Filipinos to do their part and to welcome adversity. There was not a question in his mind that you — young, creative and bright Filipinos — will be able to surmount any challenge and make your nation proud,” Chuasoto further emphasized.

Ramon Antonio Paterno, co-founder of Dr. Jose Rizal Youth Awards Day, also delivered an inspirational message addressed to the young awardees centered on Rizal’s passion for history, fight for liberal reforms, advocacy of education as the path towards prosperity and progress, and vision of an enlightened nationalism.


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Left photo: Awardee Janelle Gonzaga plays a guitar solo. Right photo: Awardee Adeline Baban and her brother Alexander Baban play tango music on violin.


“In conclusion, Rizal’s message is a message of hope for he has addressed you, the youth, as the hope of the fatherland. Finally, discover your roots, learn your history, take pride in your cultural heritage and above all, love your country,” Paterno told the awardees.

Chuasoto, together with Philippine American Foundation for Charities, Inc. (PAFC) President Aylene Mafnas, awarded the certificates of recognition to the outstanding students in a simple ceremony graced by the awardees’ respective families, PAFC officers and members, and several guests.

The program was even made more exciting by the guitar and violin performances of selected students, and the traditional reading of the winning essays.

Maurese Owens, PAFC’s Public Relations Officer, formally ended the program with a reminder to the awardees to remember all those who have helped them be the people they are, echoing Rizal’s advice that who does not look back from where they came from will never reach their destination.

The Rizal Youth Awards is an annual recognition program spearheaded by the PAFC, in partnership with the Philippine Embassy.


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Ramon Antonio Paterno, co-founder of the Dr. Jose Rizal Youth Awards Day, is the inspirational speaker at the Dr. Jose Rizal Youth Awards ceremony.