Filipino fisherman from Zamboanga Sibugay leads RM Awardees

Published August 31, 2021, 4:25 PM

by Roy Mabasa

A pro-environment fisherman from the Philippines, a humanitarian worker from Southeast Asia, a dedicated microfinance founder from Pakistan, a passionate medical scientist from Bangladesh, and a crusading multi-media group promoting media independence in Indonesia are this year’s recipients of Asia’s premier prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

2021 Ramon Magsaysay Awards

The Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) announced this year’s choices composed of four individuals and one organization during a virtual event held on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

Filipino fisherman Roberto “Ka Dodoy” Ballon of Zamboanga Sibugay is being recognized for “his inspiring determination in leading his fellow fisherfolk to revive a dying fishing industry by creating a sustainable marine environment for this generation and generations to come, and his shining example of how everyday acts of heroism can truly be extraordinary and transformative.”

The 53-year old fisherman led his community in preserving the coastal environment that has been damaged by rampant fishpond conversion.

Steven Muncy of Southeast Asia is the founder of Community and Family Service International (CFSI), in 1989, an organization that provides humanitarian work to people uprooted by persecution, armed conflict, disasters, and other exceptionally difficult circumstances.”

Muncy is being recognized for “his unshakeable belief in the goodness of man that inspires in others the desire to serve; his life-long dedication to humanitarian work, refugee assistance, and peace building; and his unstinting pursuit of dignity, peace, and harmony for people in exceptionally difficult circumstances in Asia.”

Firdausi Qadri of Bangladesh is being recognized for “her passion and life-long devotion to the scientific profession; her vision of building the human and physical infrastructure that will benefit the coming generation of Bangladeshi scientists, women scientists in particular, and her untiring contributions to vaccine development, advanced biotechnological therapeutics and critical research that has been saving millions of precious lives.”

Muhammad Amjad Saqib of Pakistan is being recognized for “his intelligence and compassion that enabled him to create the largest microfinance institution in Pakistan; his inspiring belief that human goodness and solidarity will find ways to eradicate poverty; and his determination to stay with a mission that has already helped millions of Pakistani families.”

Indonesia’s Watchdoc is being recognized for Emerging Leadership in an Organization “for its highly principled crusade for an independent media organization. The group is likewise cited for its energetic use of investigative journalism, documentary filmmaking, and digital technology in its effort to transform Indonesia’s media landscape, and its commitment to a vision of the people themselves as makers of media and shapers of their own world.”

“We draw much hope from the 2021 Magsaysay laureates, and have much to celebrate! In these difficult times, we need to hear their good and uplifting stories. It reminds us that more than ever, in trying times, greatness of spirit is among us!” the RMAF said in a statement.

Founded in 1958, the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award celebrates the memory and leadership example of the seventh Philippine president after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.

“The Magsaysay Awardees of 2021 are one in their commitment to build solutions to vital and complex issues in their societies. Theirs is a moral courage that is unfazed by repressive systems, or social divisions, or institutional resistance, or deep cultural prejudice. Embracing the challenges of their respective advocacies, these leaders take bold, creative, and empowering actions that engage others to do likewise. Perhaps the most powerful impact of their leadership can be seen in the heightened moral courage through the many lives they have touched and inspired,” the Foundation said.

The five 2021 Magsaysay Award winners will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President, and a cash prize. They will be formally conferred the Magsaysay Award during formal Presentation Ceremonies to be held on Sunday, 28 November 2021, at the Ramon Magsaysay Center in Manila.