The Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA) Awards is celebrating its 10th year and the Filipino American History Month with 100 unsung heroes across America and the Philippines. (Read:PH Team Wins NASA Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge)
Founded by Elton Lugay in 2010, TOFA is an annual award-giving event in the month of October for Filipinos in America who made promising contributions through their noteworthy skills, competence, and social impact. But this year, due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the boards have decided to conduct the event online.
On September 11, TOFA announced on their Facebook page the first 10 of the TOFA awardees. These awardees came from different industries and made global contributions in culture, politics, entertainment, education, and media in America. (Read: 4 Times Justine Afante Proved She is ‘The Voice Kids UK’ Champ)
The event, which will be streamed live on the TOFA Facebook page on October 31, will be hosted by Asia’s King of Talk, Boy Abunda.
Here are the first 10 TOFA awardees who’s been raising our flag high in the foreign land!
Manny Pacquiao (Sports)
Emmanuel “Manny” Dapidran Pacquiao, also called “PacMan” by fans around the world, leads the list of this year’s awardees. His triumph and legendary mark in the international boxing scene have earned him world boxing titles across eight weight divisions throughout four decades. With this, Pacquiao has earned his title as the Philippines’ “Pambansang Kamao.” His work is not only limited in the four corners of the boxing ring, his influences also transcend beyond politics and philanthropy.
Lea Salonga (Entertainment)
With her enchanting and undoubtedly angelic voice, Lea Salonga captivated the world. From her breakthrough role as “Kim” in the hit Broadway musical “Miss Saigon” to giving life to some of our favorite Disney Princesses, Lea is indeed a Pinoy Pride. Lea is also the first Asian woman receiver of a Tony Award in 1991. (Watch:WATCH: Lea Salonga is the newest star to host Disney Storytime)
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Loida Nicolas Lewis (Community Service)
Loida Nicolas Lewis is a co-founder of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) which supports the welfare and well-being of the four million Filipinos and Filipino Americans throughout the United States. She is also the first Asian woman to pass the New York bar in 1974 and earlier, as a bar top notcher in the Philippines.
Brendan G. Flores (Youth)
Brendan G Flores was awarded the first millennial and the youngest-ever leader of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) in 2016. This year, his contributions and impact for the youth will be recognized by TOFA.
Noel Francisco (Public Service)
Noel Francisco was the first Asian American who served as the 48th Solicitor General of the United States.
Conrado Gempesaw (Education)
As the 17th president of St. John’s University, Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw is recognized as the first lay Filipino-American president of one of the largest and most diverse Catholic universities in New York City.
Maria Ressa (Courage of Conviction)
Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa is known for her stand against tyranny in the Philippines. She is also an active advocate of press freedom for journalists in the country. In the past years, Maria has also received many prestigious awards such as TIME Magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, 100 Most Influential People of 2019, and Most Influential Women of the Century. (Watch: John Lloyd, Maria Ressa Star in Video Protest Against Anti-Terror Law)
Patrick Starrr (Style/LGBT)
Patrick Simondac, also known as “Patrick Starrr” on the internet, is a profiled beauty influencer with about 4.5 million subscribers to his YouTube channel. With his passion for makeup, Patrick Starr has become an icon and a bearer of positivity in the beauty industry and especially in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Cris Comerford (Culinary)
In 2005, Cristeta Comerford became the first woman and of Asian descent executive chef of the White House. (Read:5 Influential Filipina Women Who Prove Hard Work Pays Off) “People always say, ‘The White House is the pinnacle of your career.’ But when you reach a pinnacle, everything goes downhill from there,” she said in an article for Real Simple.