From New York and beyond, TOFA goes global

Founder Elton Lugay: ‘TOFA is evolving alongside the FilAm community.’

By Rasmin Diaz

How is it that Michael Cinco, a celebrated fashion designer based in Dubai, is being honored with a TOFA recognition?

On September 16, the 12th Annual TOFA Awards will launch the TOFA Global Awards international category with Cinco as its first honoree. The Outstanding Filipinos in America, which began as an award-giving body that pays tribute to exemplary Filipinos in New York and later to FilAms all across the United States, is now setting its sights on Filipinos across the globe.

As explained by TOFA Awards founder and executive producer Elton Lugay, “Michael Cinco’s star shines brightly in the global fashion arena, and it is high time for the Filipino American community to recognize his excellence and creativity.”

Cinco, who caught the attention of the fashion world after receiving the People’s Choice Award at the Dubai Fashion Awards in 2010, said coming to New York City to “express my passion” has long been his wish.

Dubai designer Michael Cinco: First Global Awards honoree. Photo:

“I can’t wait to express my passion in New York City, which is always in my heart. This is where I felt for the first time that all my impalpable dreams could come true. Thank you, TOFA, for selecting me as the very first recipient of your TOFA Global Awards,” he said.

The September 16 TOFA celebration will be held at The Town Hall. It will be hosted by Dr. Boy Abunda, “Asia’s King of Talk.” Abunda expressed excitement at once again helming the 12th Annual TOFA Awards noting how the organization has truly raised the profile of Filipinos not only in America but all around the world.

More than 20 honorees have been selected for the 12th Annual TOFA Awards, including social media sensation Bretman Rock, Zumba Master Class trainer Deekee Gaerlan, COVID-19 warriors Dr. Alicia Almendral and Georgio Dano, RN, and UERM Medical Foundation founder Dr. Emilio Quines Jr. as TOFA 12’s Heritage awardee.

“I recognize TOFA Awards as the best award-giving body in America because it truly reflects the diversifying character of the Filipino American community and the many ways Filipinos assimilate anywhere in the world. This is key to our resilience as a people,” said Abunda.

Another highlight of this year’s festivities is the launch of TOFA’s Presidential Awards, which will be given to 10 individuals who have excelled in serving the community in their respective professions, earning the nod of the Office of Presidential Volunteer Service Awards for a citation signed by no less than President Joe Biden.

Since its launch in 2010, TOFA has honored more than 200 distinguished FilAms nominated by the community. Over the years, it has gained distinction for its community service and top-quality productions. It won the NY Mets Spirit Award for outstanding community leadership, and the NaFFAA presidential image award for outstanding commitment to uplifting the Filipino story/narrative. Last year alone it won the Bronze Telly Award for the “TOFA 100 Celebrating Filipinos in America” special and the Silver Anthem Award for its “Stop Asian Hate” campaign.

“TOFA is evolving alongside the FilAm community, and we are excited to transition from a NYC event to a platform for outstanding Filipinos anywhere in the world,” Lugay said.

Filipina singer and actress Katrina Velarde, better known as “Asia’s Vocal Supreme,” headlines TOFA’s 12th Annual Awards. Velarde will share the stage with San Francisco’s Parangal Dance Company and the TOFA Performing Artists, all volunteers who share not only their talent, but also countless rehearsals and service hours.

The 12th Annual TOFA Awards is presented by Financial Rescue in cooperation with NYC PRIDE, Art Hearts Fashion, LX2 Entertainment, Resilient Care Physical Therapy, Dr. Dely Go, Ia’s Threads, Milestone Events, Vynz-Muzyk, and media partners NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, GMA Pinoy TV, and

TOFA’s volunteers, previous winners and board members at the 1st Presidential Volunteer Awards.
Lugay presents a copy of the coffee table book, ‘TOFA100: A Celebration of Filipinos in America,’ to New York Governor Kathy Hochul.

(C) The FilAm 2022

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: