MANILA — Health Undersecretary Beverly Lorraine Ho and comics artist Manuel Luis “Manix” Abrera were among the 10 people recognized on Thursday as The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) for 2022, joining hundreds of recipients across the award’s 63-year history.
The TOYM honorees were announced at a gala night in Pasay City hosted by the award organizers Junior Chamber International (JCI) Philippines and the TOYM Foundation.
But unlike previous iterations, the TOYM recognized 21 finalists for this year before disclosing the 10 awardees.
The finalists were winnowed down from 117 entries and nominations, organizers said.
Ho, who leads the Department of Health’s Public Health Services team, was represented by her brother at the event.
She was named TOYM in the health and medicine category along with fellow physicians Ronnie Baticulon, a pediatric neurosurgeon; and Ramon Lorenzo Luis Guinto, a public health advocate.
Guinto reminded the audience of how climate change is growing to be the biggest threat to global health.
“As a physician, now I’m treating 2 patients, not just people but also the planet,” he said.
“And so this recognition is not just really an award but an inspiration for the decades ahead, because we have so many challenges that we’ll need to be confronting. And we need to all work together to achieve healthy people and a healthy planet.”
Abrera, best known for his Kikomachine comics, asked his father, veteran cartoonist Jess Abrera, to join him onstage as he received his award.
He is one of three TOYM honorees for literature, culture, and the arts this year.
Also awarded were Cordillera-based social entrepreneur Victor Mari Baguilat Jr. and Bicol-based writer and filmmaker Kristian Cordero.
All three emphasized the importance of telling stories from various parts of society.
“Dami-daming magagandang stories, napakayaman ng culture natin. At sinasabi ngang, the universe is not made of tiny atoms, it’s made of tiny stories. Napakasarap maging Pilipino, napakasarap mabuhay,” Abrera said.
Candon City councilor Joanne Ascencion Valdez and Sustainability PH founder Shawntel Nicole Nieto received TOYMs for the humanitarian, civil society or voluntary leadership category.
“This legacy of doing something, bettering our communities is not just ours to build alone,” Valdez said.
“Pagbalik natin sa ating mga komunidad, tuloy po ang trabaho.”
Physician and medical anthropologist Paul Gideon Lasco and University of the Philippines - Los Baños School of Environmental Science and Management dean Rico Ancog rounded out the honorees for education and the academe.
Lasco vowed to continue striving to live up to the ideals of the awarding body.
“The Philippines is not a small country. Ours is a country that’s full of talent, full of goodness, full of community and full hope,” he said.
“Our country deserves the best that we can offer it.”
The awardees will receive their TOYM trophies — designed National Artist for Sculpture and 1959 TOYM awardee Napoleon Abueva — during a recognition ceremony in Malacañang Palace at a to-be-announced date, organizers said.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan, who also chaired the board judges that selected the honorees, described the honorees as “fighting the good fight against the villains of society not just for themselves but for others as well”.
“The diverse backgrounds of the awardees show how competent and talented Filipinos are. And these are real people — modern-day heroes who do not need to be cloaked in fancy costumes nor be given superpowers,” Gaerlan said.
“Their power lies in the choices they make and the actions they take, coupled with the determination and commitment to create a difference.”
The remaining 11 TOYM 2022 finalists are:
* Entrepreneurs Francis Carl Reyes and Lawrence Tan for business, economics and entrepreneurship;
* Peace mission keeper Rohaniza Usman for contribution to children, peace and or human rights;
* Educator Ryan Homan, lawyer-educator Francis Tom Temprosa for education and the academe;
* Physician Weijin Sto. Domingo for health and medicine;
* Teacher/researcher Kenneth Isaiah Abante and nurse/entrepreneur John Paul Maunes for humanitarian, civil society or voluntary leadership;
* Entrepreneur/photographer Khrista Francis Desesto and missionary visual artist Kristine Ann Lim for literature, culture and the arts; and
* Department of Education assistant secretary for youth affairs and special concerns and health professional Dexter Galban for personal improvement and/or accomplishment
Established in 1959, the TOYM Awards recognize the achievements of Filipino men and women between ages of 18 and 40. Women were included in the recognition since 1984.
Previous honorees of the award — for a time dubbed The Outstanding Young Filipinos — include the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., future Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, singer Lea Salonga, and Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.