Bloomberg hails TOFA-NY awardees for ‘contributing to city’s amazing energy and spirit’

Bessie Badilla (top) and Roland Ubaldo lead the winners.

By Cristina DC Pastor

‘It was like waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve.’

Filipinos in New York and elsewhere celebrated on Facebook the victories of former fashion model Bessie Badilla, U.S. Marshals spokesman Roland Ubaldo and nine others in the first The Outstanding Filipino Americans in NY awards honoring 12 notable Filipinos in the region.

A presentation of awards will be held Oct. 29 at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall. Badilla, who is promoting a new musical genre called ‘Brinoy’ or Brazilian-Philippine music, won in the Arts & Culture category. Ubaldo, spokesman of the U.S. Marshals Service of the Southern District of New York charged with the disposition of the assets of Bernie Madoff, garnered the highest votes in Public Service.

Pulitzer Award-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, whose controversial coming-out as an undocumented immigrant was both cheered and criticized, won the Courage of Conviction award versus Catherina Cenzon DeCarlo, a Mt. Sinai Hospital nurse who refused to participate in an abortion procedure for religious reasons.

The voting, which started on July 18, ended midnight of October 8, as family and friends scrambled to ‘Like’ the nominees’ photos on the TOFA-NY Facebook page. It was a tight race for votes in some categories.

The rest of the winners are:

Business & Entrepreneurship
Grace Hufano-Labaguis

Community Service & Advocacy
Philippine Forum

Sounds of Manila

Fashion & Style
Jerry Sibal

Food & Restaurants
Rena Avendula

Health Care
Dr. Lorna Bayes

LGBT & Advocacy
Michelle Manangan

Media & Publishing
Don Tagala

Youth & Sports
Filipino School of New York and New Jersey

“Thank you to the organizers for the honor of being nominated among the finest talented Filipinos in New York,” Badilla said in a statement. “I salute my co-nominees Michael Dadap, Roz Li, Philippine American Friendship Committee, Philippine Fiesta and The Philippine Independence Day Council, and I challenge them to continue sharing their talents and showcasing the true Filipino spirit through Arts and Culture.”

Comic Air Tabigue, who lost by only one point to Sounds of Manila band in the Entertainment category said, “The dream is over…LOL…but it was an honor just to be nominated for this award.”

Philippine Consul General in New York Mario de Leon and business & community leader Loida Nicolas Lewis will award the winners on October 29 at Carnegie Hall in simple ceremonies to be hosted by singer Mig Ayesa and TV reporter/journalism professor Ernabel Demillo.

The 12 winners will be jointly honored with Heritage Awardees Lea Salonga, the Filipino American Human Services Inc., the Filipino Reporter newspaper, Filipino American National Historical Society Metro NY, Filipino American National Historical Society New Jersey, and the dancing team of youngsters Craig & Samantha.

“New York has always been proud to be a city of promise and opportunity for people of every background, including generations of Filipino Americans,” said Mayor Mike Bloomberg in a message to the awardees. “We take this opportunity to honor the men and women who contribute to our city’s amazing energy and spirit.”

Kiran Ahuja, executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders, said in a separate message: “I applaud TOFA-NY for giving recognition to individuals and organizations that have raised the profile of Filipino Americans in a unique and positive way.”

TOFA-NY was organized to commemorate October as Filipino American History Month.

Tickets are at $40, $60 and $80 and are still available at or by calling 212-417-0419.


  1. Christopher G. wrote:

    Nice blog here! Also your web site loads up very fast!

  2. Mac M wrote:

    Great work! That is the type of information that are supposed to be shared across the net. Congratulations to all TOFA winners.

  3. Debbie wrote:

    I don’t normally comment but I gotta tell you this is an amazing article. Congrats to Filipinos in New York.

  4. Joy Cuda wrote:

    Excellent post.

  5. Edna T. wrote:

    To all the awardees, always follow your heart.

  6. L. Steinberg wrote:

    Excellent web site. I am sending it to a few Filipino buddies of mine.

  7. Ivery wrote:

    Thanks for another great post.

  8. […] The Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York has opened the Facebook voting for this year’s search for exemplary Filipinos. Among the notables in the list are Lorna Schofield, President Obama’s nominee for the position of federal district court judge for the Southern District of New York; NYU Dean for Science Michael Purugganan; and Cheryl Ocampo, mother of a special-needs child and founder of the Queens County Parents Autism Coalition. […]

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