By Marjaleen Ramos
This year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award presentation has been cancelled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“”It took an invisible scourge to force another interruption. With the COVID-19 pandemic practically immobilizing the world, the Foundation had no choice but to cancel this year’s Awards Presentation,” the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation’s board of trustees said in a statement Monday.
According to the Foundation, the tradition of selecting and presenting the Laureates has unfolded every year for the past 60 years and has been “disrupted only during the 1970 financial crisis and the calamitous 1990 earthquake.”
“It was a tough decision to make. We shall all miss the solemnity of the awards night. Hungry for the stories that inspire and sustain hope. Feeling humbled in the presence of the light,” the statement read.
“Today, tradition has to give way to inconvenient reality. But we will get together again and it will be a joyful reunion.”
“We shall miss the solemnity of the Awards Night. Hungry for stories that inspire and sustain hope. Feeling humbled in the presence of light,” the foundation noted, recognizing all the awardees “from all corners of Asia [who] have risen to the occasion [and] lending critical support to frontliners and marginalized victims of the pandemic.”
The last Ramon Magsaysay Awards Presentation was held in September 2019 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Dubbed as Asia’s highest honor, the award was last bestowed upon five new individuals. They were: Filipino music icon and National Artist for Music Raymundo “Ryan” Cayabyab, South Korean anti-youth violence advocate Kim Jong-ki, Indian journalist Ravish Kumar, Thai human rights advocate Angkhana Neelapaijit and Myanmar journalist Ko Swe Win.
The five joined the 335 other awardees of the past 61 years, who according to the foundation, “share a common trait: selflessness in the pursuit of better lives for the many who are left behind socially and economically.”
“We call it greatness of spirit,” the foundation noted.
As of Tuesday, global infections from the novel coronavirus surpassed seven million. (With a report from Joseph Pedrajas)