‘The FilAm’ honored with 2 Plaridel awards

Elton Lugay (second from left) with, from left, presenter Odette Keeley, nominee Ryan Gajudo Macasero and emcee Lorna Lardizabal Dietz. Photo courtesy of Odette Keeley

‘The FilAm’ won two Plaridel awards for outstanding journalists in the Filipino American media in a ceremony held October 4 at South San Francisco.

Contributing writer Laurel Fantauzzo won first prize in the Youth Voice category for her essay “In the Motherland: Thank you, Manila.” The article is part of a series written when she visited the Philippines last year when she received a writing grant from the Fulbright Fellowship.

Founding editor Cristina DC Pastor won honorable mention in Outstanding Reportage for her piece “Do you sponsor?” about how out-of-status Filipino journalists struggled following a disclosure from Pulitzer Award winner Jose Antonio Vargas that he was an undocumented immigrant. The article was simultaneously published in Feet in 2 Worlds.

“As a Filipina American, I’m always trying to share the truth of my subjective story, as I maneuver a mixed identity and try my best to understand the beloved, troubled, beautiful, complicated country my mother left behind,” said Laurel in her speech read by Elton Lugay, the third nominee from The FilAm. “I often find that the more honest I am, the more I find that mine is a shared story. Thank you for reading and sharing with me.”

Like Laurel, Cristina was unable to attend the event and had requested Elton to read her short message. She thanked the many writers and regular folks who contributed their remarkable stories that collectively make The FilAm a “precious repository of oral history.”

The plaque. Photo by Elton Lugay

“Many of our contributors write often for the sheer pleasure of just expressing themselves or because they have a memorable story to share. Which is what The FilAm is all about – it’s for all Filipinos in the NY Tri-State – all 300K plus of you – who all have beautiful narratives of how you came to this country and how it is that you now find yourselves in New York or New Jersey or Connecticut,” she said.

She urged fellow nominees Laurel and Elton to continue to write in the pursuit and spirit of a “more exciting and more adventurous” community journalism.

Asian Journal’s Michael Santos and Joseph Pimentel won the Outstanding Reportage Award for their article, “Adult Day Health Care Centers pending closure to hit elderly FilAms hard.”

Inquirer.net won back to back in the Outstanding Commentary Category: contributing columnists Dennis Clemente won first prize with his article “Is it okay to lose your language? Not for these FilAms” and Ted Laguatan was runner-up with his submission “The ‘Arroyo 8’ Justices.”

Elizabeth Horner, an aspiring journalist also with Inquirer.net won honorable mention in the Youth Voice Category with her piece “A tribute to Philippine Independence.”

Clemente was also the runner-up for the Outstanding Entertainment category with his article “John Sayle’s ‘Amigo’ timely as today’s headlines, opens in the U.S.” Philippine News’ Hollywood entertainment reporter, Janet Nepales, won top prize with “‘Magno Rubio’ in Tagalog, a first at the John Anson Ford Theatre.”

Outstanding International Reporting Category’s top honor went to Philippine News’ Cherie Querol Moreno with her “Parlez vous Pilipino?” while Asian Journal’s Las Vegas editor, Dymphna Calica-La Putt, was honorable mention with “A soldier’s smile: Filipino WWII Vet turns 100 with hope in his heart.”

For the Broadcast Category’s Community Reporting in Television, Jannelle So of Kababayan LA which is seen daily on KSCI-TV LA18 won first prize with their segment “Historic Filipino Town.” Runner up was “Hands-off Journey to Success: The Jessica Cox Story” produced by Arnold Pedrigal of “Power ng Pinoy,” a weekly show that appears on GMA TV.

Photo-journalism’s honorable mention went to Michael Santos of Asian Journal with his photo-essay “Elderly Fil-Ams face uncertainty.” There was no top prize winner. For the Tourism Feature Story Category sponsored by the Department of Tourism, the winner was Ruben Nepales of Balikbayan Magazine with his ouvre, “Come to my Philippines!”

Submissions came from publishers from New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Each of the top prize-winners won a crystal engraved trophy and cash.

The event was graced by California Senator Leland Yee, author of the bill that made the month of October in California, Filipino American Heritage Month, presented the Philippine American Press Club with a citation for its first ever Plaridel Awards. He said that the Filipino journalists are very helpful in disseminating information to the community.
Presenters were industry partners and community leaders headed by Consul General Marciano Paynor Jr., Mona Lisa Yuchengco of Philippine International Aid, Fiona Chan of Pacific Gas and Electric; Jenny Montenegro of Lucky Chances Casino; Gabriel Agcaoili of the Department of Tourism, San Francisco; and Odette Keeley of New America Media.

Keynote speaker was Sandy Close, executive editor and director of the New America Media and Pacific News Service. She said the ethnic media in the U.S. is fast becoming a “Filipino media” because of the many Filipinos engaged in journalism and the quality of work they put into it.

Philippine American Press Club President, Esther Misa Chavez, vice president for Sales of Inquirer.net said that, “We are very encouraged by today’s event and we hope that we can continue to make it an annual celebration of outstanding work by the Filipino American press corps.”

The Plaridel Awards was named after 19th century Filipino journalist and publisher Marcelo H. Del Pilar, whose nom de plume was Plaridel. The awards ceremony was captured on livestreaming video and can be viewed at papcusa.org.

Click here for more photos from the event.


  1. Ariel wrote:


  2. Martha wrote:

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  3. […] first journalism awards: • Plaridel Awards: first prize in the Youth Voice category for Laurel Fantauzzo and honorable mention in Outstanding […]

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