By Tina Hidalgo Jacinto
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Some people embrace risks in the pursuance of their advocacies. These are the unsung heroes who fully devote time and effort to their noble cause. The ONE Philippines Humanitarian Award benefit gala recently honored three exemplary individuals who inspire, who share their unselfish mission to help the less fortunate in their communities. Held at the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel, the subsidiary project of The ONE International was presented in partnership with Rotary International Zone 10. It is the brainchild of Hong Kong resident, Rotarian, and businessman David Harilewla.
Leaving an indelible mark on their philanthropic world were TOP awardees: Dara Mae Tuazon, a 19-year-old college student who won the TOP first prize. Her younger years were spent teaching indigent children. She started doing it when she was 11 years old. She received P1.5 million for her project and a chance to win $100,000 at the ONE International competition in Hong Kong in 2019. Among the runners-up who each received R500,000 for their projects was Dr. Roel Cagape from General Santos, Sarangani. With three free clinics, he climbs mountains to give free medical service in remote areas. Through his radio program and his health book, he disseminates valuable information. The other is Chad Stamatelaky, a painter who, together with his wife Melay, adopts and sends streetchildren to school.
It was a stirring moment when the video presentations of these three outstanding awardees were shown. The audience was so moved by their passion and dedication, so much so that it generated more donations in cash and in kind. Vintage wines were provided by Ralph’s Wines. Entertainment commenced with song numbers from Marc Chua and Nonon Baang. Danny Diaz from Hong Kong also regaled the guests with his song.
The selection of the winners was conducted in three stages. First, by the TOP directors and officers. Second by Bruce Winton, Kingson Sian, Marife Zamora, Tiny Meneses, and Cynthia Picazo. Third by Sen. Grace Poe, Philippine Tatler’s Irene Martel Francisco, and Ateneo University’s Fr. Jet Villarin.
In the Philippines, TOP is chaired by Rotary director Raffy Garcia and Rotary directors Chit Lijauco, Sid Garcia, Connie de Venecia, Oyan Villanueva, and Jess Cifra. The ONE Philippines entrusts the award monies with the sponsor Rotary Club who will dispense and monitor the funds.