Awardees of the 2014 Most Outstanding Overseas Foreign Workers on the third anniversary of Team United Maharlika Foundation, Inc. at the Astoria World Manor in Queens, N.Y. on Nov. 16.  (Photo by Velzon Hizon Velez)


This space congratulates the 13 awardees of the Most Outstanding Overseas Foreign Workers honored by Team United Maharlika Foundation, Inc. during its third anniversary celebration at the Astoria World Manor in Queens, N.Y. on Nov. 16.

Here’s a report from founder and executive producer of TOFA-NY (The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York) Elton Lugay, one of the awardees.

Sen. Gustavo Rivera and Msgr. Oscar Aquino led the list of awardees, who were recognized for their contribution in nation-building both in the United States and their countries of origin.

Rivera, representative of the 33rd Senate district, is a ranking member of the New York State Senate’s health committee.

Focused on addressing health inequity, he introduced the Bronx CAN initiative in 2011 which has helped thousands of school children acquire free health screenings through coordinated activities with health centers and other partners.

Meanwhile, Msgr. Aquino, pastor of St. Lucys Church in East Harlem, is known for hosting informal breakfast gatherings that allow elderly parishioners and their families to bond as a community.

Other individuals who made the list were Dr. Richard Holsman; Engr. Levi Tejada; teacher Ronnie Mataquel, president of the Unified Teachers of America; nurse Maritess Pabalan; chef Rosalie Palma whose employment experience includes serving Presidents Bill Clinton at Martha’s Vineyard and Barack Obama at the White House; retired nurse Carmen Marquez; Esther Faith Batino, recipient of Ambassador for Peace from Universal Peace Federation; business entrepreneurs Joseph and Maricel Cheng; stage director and Broadway actor Miguel Braganza; Elton Lugay, reporter for The FilAm and Philippine Daily Inquirer; and the late Dr. Ben Sales, president of the Philippine Medical Association in America.

Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr., who was the event’s guest speaker, acknowledged Team United’s theme “Recognizing the Contribution of OFW in Nation Building in the American Society and his/her Country of Origin.”

“This aptly captures the hard work of the Foundation’s members to be of value not only in American society but in the whole global community,” he said.

“The Foundation’s aim to promote solidarity and collaboration among various ethnic associations and to empower the youth have been exemplified through this fundraising event that would benefit its medical and dental missions and charities for victims of calamities. May the awardees serve as role models to our youth and be stalwarts of patriotism.”

Reporter Elton Lugay, who delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of the awardees, said he is both honored and humbled to receive the award, the very first organized by Team United Maharlika Foundation to recognize individuals who have made their mark in serving the community.

“I am honored because I am in such illustrious company and humbled because in my own little way, by telling the stories of people and how they make up our community, somehow I know that I have something in common with these illustrious people. And that is in service,” Lugay said.

Team United president Rene Ballenas said the foundation would honor more OFWs in the years to come.

This year’s awards committee was chaired by veteran community leader Nida Cortez; and the gala was emceed by Ria Serrano and Ariel Aggabao.

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