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I Felt Small At The TOYM Awards by Bo Sanchez

December 2006

Yesterday, I received the TOYM award from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Malacanang. Gosh, I never knew how beautiful Malacanang was! The ceremony hall had the most magnificent wooden chandeliers I’ve ever seen. It also had “banig”-inspired walls that was simply exquisite. (I’ll show a video on Preacher in Blue Jeans in the next few days.)
Thankfully, I had a really nice Barong Tagalog that Adrian Panganiban made for me for our Concerts two years ago, so I wore it to fit the regal hall around me.
But believe me, the impressive physical surroundings were nothing compared to the phenomenal human beings around me that day: The other TOYM awardees.
I felt small. My companions are giants.
Through them, I regained hope for the Philippines. If there are Filipinos as great, passionate, and sacrificial as these, then wow—we as a nation can rise up from poverty.
Friends, if there’s one thing that is common in all these incredible people, it’s their passion. They love what they do—and they’ll go to the ends of the earth just so they could serve others.
Ladies and gentlemen (drumroll please), let me introduce to you the Most Outstanding Young Men and Women of the Philippines (in alphabetical order):

1. Mike Cacnio
One of the top sculptors of the country. His art pieces are owned by royal families around the world. Ang galing talaga ng Pinoy! We’re a very gifted people. Mike also has a deep faith in God and a love for God’s people, being a minister himself for the last 19 years.

2. Mariella Sugue Castillo
Dr. Yella turned her back on a very lucrative Pediatrics practice in New York, and went back home to work in PGH. Her passion in life is to save and defend abused children, having already helped 7,000 victims. She works tirelessly with policy makers, lawyers, universities, and baranggays to fight for the Filipino child.

3. Rafael Consunji
Dr. Rafael graduated from the world-renowned John Hopkins University, which named him “Most Outstanding Resident in Surgery”. But he too decided to go back and serve the poor at the PGH. He also founded Safe Kids Philippines, dedicated to keeping kids safe from accidental injuries.

4. Romi Garduce
He is the Philippines’ Most Accomplished Mountaineer. But he always climbs to raise funds for charity. When he climbed Mt. Elbrus in Russia, he raised funds for the coral reefs in Batangas. His Mt. Cho Uyo expedition in Nepal was for the Bukidnon children. Romi has climbed mountains in 6 continents of the world.

5. Benedict Hernandez
At 29 in the year 2000, Benedict led a start-up company, E-Telecare, when there were no real international call centers yet in the Philippines. Today, E-Telecare is one of the three largest and has the most international awards in the world. By 2010, this industry will give 500T jobs and earn $10B for the Philippines.

6. Rico Hizon
Rico is the first and only Filipino male news anchor to work for two of the most prestigious global news organizations—CNBC Asia and BBC World. As an international journalist, he interviews Kings and Presidents of nations. He too has a deep faith and love for God. Ang galing talaga ng Pinoy!

7. Leo Oracion
Many years ago, Leo climbed Mt. Banahaw in Quezon province and dreamed of climbing the highest peak in the world. And last May 2006, this triathlete fulfilled his dream. Leo became the first Filipino to reach the peak of Mt. Everest. (He signed my TOYM book with these words: Kaya ng Pinoy!)

8. Miro Quimbo
He is the CEO and President of the government-run corporation Pag-IBIG Fund. Under his fantastic leadership, he turned it around to become one of the Top 10 Corporations of the country—and it has helped more Filipinos own their own homes—than at any other time in its history. Yes, government can be excellent!

9. Windell Rivera
This Filipino Scientist created a diagnostic tool for ameobiasis, which has saved (and will continue to save) millions of people from being mistreated. His many accomplishments landed him in the Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare in the World from 2000 to 2006. A Filipino genius!

10. Samuel Soliven
He grew up among the poorest of the poor, selling whatever he could to study. He finished his studies with flying colors, but instead of a corporate job or going abroad, he become a teacher—and now a principal in Nueva Vizcaya. He has a Ph.d in Philosophy and named one of the Ten Oustanding Filipino Teachers.

11. Vivienne Tan
Seeing the need to push entrepreneurship as the solution to the country’s poverty, she founded the Entrepreneurs School of Asia. She wants to cause a paradigm shift among the young, to become “Job Creators” instead of “Job Seekers”. She started her own garment company at the young age of 26.

Friends, these are ordinary people, but they discovered their passion. May you find yours and make it your gift to the world.


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