TOFA-NY winners named; lights on at Carnegie Hall on Oct 26th

From top left: teacher Marietta Geraldino, nurse Menchu Sanchez and Rockette Christine Sienicki

From top left: teacher Marietta Geraldino, nurse Menchu Sanchez and Rockette Christine Sienicki

By Cristina DC Pastor

As the government was shutting down midnight of September 30, TOFA-NY was in a race to finish the counting of votes to award the 2013 outstanding Filipinos in New York.

TOFA-NY won the race; Congress did not.

The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York went to 13 exemplary individuals who garnered the most Facebook votes over a period of a month and a half. They include the quick-thinking nurse Menchu Sanchez, who helped evacuate ICU babies at the height of Hurricane Sandy, NYC’s top teacher Marietta Geraldino; and leg-kicking Rockette Christine Sienicki.

Below is the complete list of the winners who, in the words of Governor Andrew Cuomo, belong to the “thriving community of Filipino Americans that adds significantly to the success of New York State.”

Sibyl Santiago
Arts & Culture

Jaena Valles
Business & Entrepreneurship

Maya Rowencak
Community Service & Advocacy

JenJen Furer
Courage of Conviction

Marietta Geraldino
Education, Research & Technology

Christine Sienicki

Guenevere Rodriguez
Fashion & Style

Aris Tuazon
Food & Restaurants

Menchu Sanchez

Irma Bajar
LGBT Advocacy

Katherine Creag
Media & Publishing

Atty. Rio Guerrero
Public Service & Politics

Esperanza Garcia
Youth & Sports

Four individuals and organizations will be honored with Heritage Awards for their steadfast and unwavering contribution to community development. They are the Filipino American Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Foundation for Filipino Artists, fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, and King of Latin Soul Joe Bataan, who will also perform that evening.

The winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on October 26 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Auditorium, where they will be welcomed by a community of family and well-wishers and bask in the inspiring wisdom of Consul General Mario de Leon Jr., federal Judge Lorna Schofield and Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Ruben Nepales.

“New York is home to thousands of Filipino Americans, and every year, our city’s celebration of Filipino American History Month is an important opportunity for people of all backgrounds to appreciate their vital place in all areas of life here in the Big Apple,” said Mayor Mike Bloomberg in a message to the winners. “Whether excelling in business, the arts, public service, or other sectors, TOFA-NY represents the strength and diversity of our Filipino American community.”

Gov. Cuomo said this year’s TOFA-NY winners “inspire future leaders and have earned well-deserved praise from a grateful community.”

A musical variety, headed by Joe Bataan and Lani Misalucha, will provide entertainment. They will be joined by local artists Kirby Asunto, fresh from her cameo role as Basilio in “Noli Me Tangere, the Opera,” John Pio, the Philippine Community of Southern New Jersey Youth, April Talangbayan and Jared Martin.

Katherine Creag, who is this year’s TOFA-NY awardee for Media & Publishing, will be the emcee.

This year’s TOFA-NY is made possible with the support of the following sponsors: RN Express Staffing Registry LLC, Synergy Productions, GMA Pinoy TV, GMA Life TV, GMA News TV, Filipino Reporter, The FilAm, The Blakely Hotel,, Fiesta in America, and Talangbayan Medical Center, Wonder Girls and Boys Club Inc., AJ Images, MPE Productions and KMA Productions.

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