Maria Ressa to host TOFA-NY as De Blasio calls FilAms ‘invaluable’ to city

Maria Ressa founded Rappler, the Philippines’ first Internet-based news organization.

Maria Ressa founded Rappler, the Philippines’ first Internet-based news organization.

By Cristina DC Pastor

Journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa will host the fourth The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA-NY), as Mayor Bill de Blasio offered his congratulations to the annual event celebrating Filipino American History Month.

TOFA-NY is an independent search for exemplary FilAms in the New York metropolitan area. Voting is conducted via social media, and the awardees are celebrated at Carnegie Hall. This year’s event will be held on October 25.

“With an estimated 200 spoken languages and more than 3 million residents born outside of the U.S., New York’s diversity in unparalleled,” De Blasio said in a statement. “Our large and thriving Filipino population is an invaluable thread in the fabric of our city.”

Ressa, formerly CNN’s bureau chief in Manila and Jakarta, is one of the founders of Rappler, the Philippines’ first Internet-based news organization. She has been covering Asia for more than 25 years. She lived in Toms River, New Jersey with her family, and graduated from Princeton University where she studied Biology and English.

As in previous years, Consul General Mario de Leon Jr. and businesswoman and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis will deliver inspirational messages. The other speakers are retired Army Gen. Tony Taguba, AARP’s Community Ambassador; Jason Tengco, Senior Advisor at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; and Miss USA first runner-up Audra Mari, who is FilAm.

In addition to Ressa, this year’s TOFA-NY will feature a stellar line-up of entertainers led by Darren Espanto of The Voice Kids Philippines; and Geo Ed Rebucas, a Pilipinas Got Talent finalist.

U.S. performers will feature Broadway Barkada; Enteng Evangelista and the UST Singers; Voice of McDonald’s finalist Richard Tuozo; and the Pilipino American Cultural Arts Society of Washington, D.C.

New York's Broadway Barkada

New York’s Broadway Barkada

Darren Espanto; Geo Ed Rebucas

Geo Ed Rebucas; Darren Espanto

The following are nominees for 2014:

Arts & Culture
Kinding Sindaw
Society of Philippine American Artists
Teresa Rodriguez

Business & Entrepreneurship
Pete & Shirley Domingo
Dennis Josue
Gary Reloj

Community Service & Advocacy
Ryan Letada
Rommel del Rosario
Roger Santos

Courage of Conviction
Nancy Bulalacao
Geena Rocero

Education, Research & Technology
Emelyn de la Pena
Lemuel Sison
Michael Vea

Broadway Barkada
Deep Foundation
Jhett Tolentino

Fashion & Style
Ryan Jordan
Elle Madrona
Danica Magpantay

Food & Restaurants
Liza de Guia
Joel Javier
Papa’s Kitchen

Health Care
Nemcy Cavite Duran RN
Randolf Palmaira
Corge Reyes

LGBT Advocacy
RJ Mendoza-Nadal
Jenab-i Pareja
Marin Watts

Media & Publishing
Gina Apostol
Ritz Mazon Craves
Tina Pamintuan

Public Service & Politics
Ludi Hughes
R Sonny Sampayan
Maria Torres-Springer

Senior Welfare & Advocacy
Filipino American Senior Citizens Association Queens NYC
Juliet Payabyab
PAGASA Social Foundation Inc.

Youth & Sports
Frenie Acoba
Jonathan de Castro
Team Takbo

Heritage Awards will be awarded to five individuals and organizations whose skills, competence, professionalism, and talent helped elevate the profile of Filipino Americans throughout the Tri-State. This year’s recipients are Oscar Award-winning songwriter Bobby Lopez, CEO Josie Natori of The Natori Company, Dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia Journalism School Sheila Coronel, Fiesta in America business and cultural trade exposition, and the Philippine Medical Association of America.

The people behind TOFA-NY are multimedia professionals and entrepreneurs, with Elton Lugay as founding chair, and Sally Nunez , Cristina DC Pastor (Nominations) and Oliver Oliveros (Publicity) comprising the board.

Here is the link to vote.

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