Four Filipinos who exemplify commitment in serving their communities and chosen fields have been recognized during the first Ginebra Ako Awards at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
With the theme "Pagkilala sa Tunay na Tapang at Husay ng Pilipino," the event aimed to honor everyday citizens who exemplify the characteristics which Ginebra San Miguel is known for, the brand's general manager Emmanuel Macalalag said.
"Indeed these remarkable individuals have imbibed the qualities unique to Ginebra San Miguel - resilient, matapang, at ganadong malagpasan anuman ang pagsubok sa buhay," he said.
These individuals have overcome hurdles for the enhancement of Filipinos’ quality of life through youth empowerment, nature preservation, sports improvement, and performing arts development.
Here are the first Ginebra Ako Awards winners:
Cutting the leash of disability
Being a person with disability (PWD) did not stop Ginebra Ako Award para sa Kabataan recipient Mark Espesor from showing the benevolent leader in him.
His strong tenacity to uplift the morale of PWDs in Iloilo City overshadowed hindrances brought by his cerebral palsy.
Having been the president of the Persons with Disability Associations in Iloilo City (PDAIC), he became a relevant figure in improving the life of youth with disabilities in the province.
He empowered people by forming support groups for PWDs and their families.
However, he admitted his condition had once made him almost lose heart. But he made it a habit to see the silver lining in every challenge.
"Bilang may kapansanan, dumadating talaga, part 'yon ng life namin," he said when asked about the obstacles he has faced as a PWD.
"Pero may pagpipilian ka, mag-move forward ka o matatakot ka. Kapag mag-move forward, malay mo bukas ma-overcome mo 'yan," he added.
With the award, he vowed to continue his advocacy to help youth with disabilities.
Marine protection for the benefit of people and the environment
Fishing is one of the main sources of income in the coastal province of Surigao del Sur. However, despite the efforts to preserve the marine resources, there have been illegal fishing activities detrimental to the province's ecosystem.
This led Ginebra Ako Awards para sa Kalikasan awardee Teodoro Canda to create a group of fishermen called Nagpakabanang Mananagat sa Tigao (Concerned Fishers of Tigao) or NAMATI.
They initially guarded a marine protected area with utmost dedication. Their effort later paid off when the marine sanctuaries and fishing grounds began to grow.
"Ang pangangalaga ng ating kalikasan ay hindi lang responsable sa mga organization," he said.
"Tayong lahat ng Pilipino, ako ay nananawagan na dapat pangalagaan din ang ating kalikasan kasi 'yan ang yaman ng ating next generation," he added.
He said there had been political interventions aimed at demoralizing his advocacy but he was grateful to be able to successfully overcome those.
"Sa dami ng experience ko na mabibigat na suliranin sa pagtatayo ko ng marine protected areas, mga paratang nila sa akin, 'yon ang nagbigay ng lakas sa akin na dapat magpatuloy," he said.
He said the Ginebra Ako award greatly validated the perseverance he has shown for his 24-year marine protection advocacy.
"Ito ang naglalarawan sa pagsusumikap ko sa pangangalaga sa kalikasan dahil 'yong nakikita kong tama na 'lalaban ako,'" he said.
Shaping minds that shape PH martial arts
Do things with excellence. This is the mantra of Ginebra Ako Award para sa Palakasan awardee Marquez Sangiao in training mixed martial arts (MMA) athletes in the Cordillera region.
Dubbed as "The Machine" of MMA scene, Sangiao is truly grateful to have played a key role of cultivating martial arts in the Philippines.
Under his supervision as the head coach of the well decorated Team Lakay, he has produced talents that garnered international and local titles.
"When you love what you are doing, walang mahirap," he said.
"Sana makapag-produce pa tayo ng disciplined na mga bata through martial arts dahil malaking tulong ang mga kabataan na useful sa kanilang komunidad," he added.
The coach said that more than being a contact sport, martial arts shapes the mental toughness and character of the athletes.
"Ang number na itinuturo ng martial arts ay iyong core values - discipline, respect, humility, [and] compassion," he said.
He said he hopes the Ginebra Award would serve as an inspiration to his students to train in martial arts with an unstoppable attitude.
"Siguro, ito ay mag-i-inspire pa sa mga estudyante na naniniwala sa akin na pagbubutihin pa nila," the coach said.
Giving voice through participatory theater
Since he was a child, Ginebra Ako Award para sa Entablado Joseph Keith Anicoche has had a liking for performing before a crowd, especially in front of his loved ones.
To make his performances more engaging, he would collaborate with the audience in the storytelling process. Through these interactive performances, he has organized leadership training and character empowerment programs.
Anicoche wasn't able to personally receive his award as he was still in New York for his theater grant. But present to receive the award on his behalf is his friend Noreen Parafina.
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