Philippines Independence Day: Seven Filipino heroes honoured in UAE

Dubai - The award ceremony was held ahead of the 123rd Philippine Independence Day celebrations today.

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By Staff Report

Published: Sat 12 Jun 2021, 7:16 AM

Last updated: Sat 12 Jun 2021, 7:21 AM

Seven modern-day Filipino heroes in the UAE were honoured on Friday, turning the spotlight on the success stories of overseas Filipinos who have beamed inspiration and brought the expat community together.

This year’s Dakilang Bayani (Noble Hero) Awards, the highest honour conferred by the Office of the Consul-General to exemplary Filipino expats in the UAE, showcased world-class talent and the Filipinos’ community spirit. The award ceremony was held ahead of the 123rd Philippine Independence Day celebrations today.

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From a fashion designer that wowed the world to a veteran journalist fighting an ‘infodemic’ and a former waitress who is now running her own firm — here are the seven Dakilang Bayani awardees:

Michael Cinco, fashion designer

He brought pride, glory and honour to the Philippines by bringing life to the couture fantasies that A-listers, Hollywood stars, royals, and international beauty queens dream of. “It has been my passion to elevate our identity, redefining how Filipinos are known in the global fashion industry. I have created and transformed the Filipino aesthetics by dressing up known celebrities, royalties, beauty queens and supported worthy causes that propel who we are: Filipinos proud of our artistic heritage, unfettered by challenges,” he said.

Dr Mary Jane Alvero Al Mahdi, Group CEO, Prime Group of Companies

A multi-awarded global business leader, Dr Mary Jane rose through the ranks and now leads a 600-strong team of experts in the field of testing, and certification. She has also been actively helping Filipinos in various platforms. “To be a dakilang bayani (noble hero) means creating a difference, making more contributions to society and helping other people realise their worth,” she said.

Angel Tesorero, journalist

A former KT reporter, Tesorero has been known for telling the stories of Filipinos in the UAE, in addition to covering the diplomatic community. “The pandemic has brought disinformation in mass media and I would like to believe I did my role in battling the ‘infodemic’ by providing the public with accurate information they needed to make informed decisions,” he said.

Vhie Laurilla, entrepreneur

Hers is a story that has inspired thousands. From working as a waitress some 20 years ago, she is now a founder of her own trading company. She is highly known for volunteer work and advocacies that ranged from women empowerment to financial literacy and mental health awareness. “I have always considered myself an ordinary Filipina who is always ready to help my kababayans (compatriots).”

Lalaine Chu-Benitez, founder, Illustrado Magazine

Through her platform called Illustrado, Benitez and her team have been championing the world-class Filipino over the last 15 years. “We have not only supported thousands of talents, but also inspired millions of our compatriots across the globe to aspire for advancement. Most importantly, we have elevated the way our community is seen, while setting the gold standard for Filipino communications in the region.”

Josie Conlu, community champion

She has harnessed the power of social media to serve Filipinos in Dubai and Northern Emirates. She is also a community leader who has once brought together 50,000 Filipinos for the country’s Independence Day celebrations. She showcased the strength of every successful Filipino on various social media platforms and selflessly spent her time helping distressed overseas Filipinos through partnerships with government and private organisations.

Ace Quijada, financial consultant

A public servant by heart, he is regarded as a champion for community services. “Helping anyone without any reservation, taking risks to fight for what is right, being determined to accomplish an endeavour for a good cause — these have been my guiding principles over the years,” he said.

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