Consul-General lauds TOFA-NY for ‘dedicated and tireless’ efforts to search, give recognition to FilAm achievers
By Oliver Oliveros
Consul General to New York Mario L. De Leon, Jr., U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York Lorna Schofield, and former chairman of the board for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Ruben Nepales will keynote the third annual The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA-NY) Awards on Saturday night, October 26, at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, the official venue of the TOFA-NY Awards ceremonies for the past three years.
The TOFA-NY Awards ceremonies are slated during the Filipino-American History Month in October, recognize and celebrate the achievements of individuals and organizations that have raised the profile of the Filipino-American community in the New York Tri-State.
“TOFA is now three years old,” said journalist and founder Elton Lugay. “Still a toddler but steadily growing judging from the volume of nominations we have received this year and the number of supporters who want to be part of the effort.”
Previous Heritage Award winners included Lea Salonga, multi-awarded actress and singer; Philippine American Chamber of Commerce; The Filipino Reporter, one of the oldest newspapers serving the Filipino-American community; The Association of Fil-Am Teachers in America; and Ma-Yi Theatre Company, an ardent advocate for new works by Asian-American playwrights; among others.
This year, TOFA is honoring Joe Bataan, Filipino-African Latin soul musician; Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national organization that primarily provides pro bono legal services; Foundation for Filipino Artists Inc., co-producers of the New York stage debut of “Noli Me Tangere, the Opera”; and Monique Lhuillier, leading couture bridal and ready-to-wear designer.
Voted on Facebook as most outstanding in their respective fields are: Sibyl Santiago (arts and culture), Jaena Valles (business and entrepreneurship), Maya Rowencak (community service and advocacy), Jen Furer (courage of conviction), Marietta Geraldino (education, research, and technology), Christine Sienicki (entertainment), Guenevere Rodriguez (fashion and style), Aris Tuazon (food and restaurants), Menchu Sanchez (health care), Irma Bajar (LGBT advocacy), Katherine Creag (media and publishing)—who will also emcee the TOFA-NY Awards, Atty. Rio Guerrero (public service and politics), and Esperanza Garcia (youth and sports) will also be feted by the guests and attendees at the formal affair in Carnegie Hall, together with virtually thousands of online supporters who believe in these outstanding Filipino-Americans’ passionate professional and/or advocacy work.
“For three years now, and using primarily social media, the organizers and the volunteers of TOFA-NY have been dedicated and tireless in their efforts to search and give recognition to our community’s achievers. I extend my appreciation to them,” said Consul General De Leon.
Besides Lugay, health care entrepreneur Sally Nunez, award-winning multimedia journalist Cristina DC Pastor, multi-award winning marketer Grace Labaguis, and public relations consultant and Broadway news editor Oliver Oliveros also make up this year’s TOFA-NY board of directors.
Jared Martin, Christine Joyce Lam, John Pio, Kirby Asunto, PCSNJ Youth Group, Heritage Award winner Joe Bataan, and Las Vegas’ Siren of the Strip Lani Misalucha will perform.