by Perry Diaz
The Twelfth Annual Gala Banquet and Ball honoring the Twenty Outstanding Filipino-Americans (T.O.F.A.) in the United States and Canada was another banner year. Held every year in Washington, DC, the prestigious event celebrated this year’s Circle of Leaders, a select group of 20 men and women nominated by various organizations including the 220 previous T.O.F.A. awardees.
T.O.F.A. was the brainchild of Mr. Nonoy Mendoza, the Publisher of FIL-AM IMAGE, the Filipino-American magazine based in Washington, DC. Mr. Mendoza’s vision of honoring the high achievers has passed the test of time. According to Mr. Mendoza, since its inception in 1990, “an impressive list of 240 Filipino-American centers-of-influence, high achievers and leaders representing the various consular jurisdictions of the Philippine diplomatic establishments in North America have been honored. The awardees, known as members of the ’Circle of Leaders,’ come from several states including: Arizona, Alaska, Guam, California, New York, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Ohio, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Delaware, Mississippi, Kentucky, Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, Illinois, Philadelphia, Minnesota, West Virginia, as well as from Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” Mr. Mendoza has remained focused in his search for qualified and deserving self-actuated leaders in the Filipino-American community.
Mr. Mendoza elaborated further, “The awardees are the role models of the Filipino-American communities. They are inspirations and pride of Filipinos. They are the reservoir of varied Filipino-American talents and expertise. They have participated and contributed immensely in building and rebuilding the great United States and the vast Canada.”
The 2004 Twenty Outstanding Filipino-Americans in the United States and Canada were honored at a gala banquet and ball at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC last October 22, 2004. The three-day celebration started with an evening reception hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Nonoy Mendoza at their hotel suite on October 20. The following day, the honorees were treated to a brunch at the prestigious National Press Club. In the evening of October 21, the honorees were invited to a reception at the Philippine Embassy hosted by Deputy Ambassador Evan Garcia.
In the morning of October 22, the honorees were accorded a chartered tour of the nation’s capital followed by a sumptuous lunch at a popular seafood buffet restaurant in Arlington, Virginia.
The gala banquet and ball was an elaborate ceremony. Each of the 20 honorees were introduced and given an honorific medal and a plaque of recognition. The following are the 2004 Twenty Outstanding Filipino-Americans of the US and Canada:
* Dr. Nerita R. Ulep, MD of Rockville, Maryland.
* Mr. Isagani C. Puertollano of Union, New Jersey.
* Ms. Editha B. Fedalizo of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
* Dr. Benito O. de Lumen, PhD of Berkeley, California.
* Dr. Yolanda Truckenbrodt, PhD of Dayton, Ohio.
* Ms. Emilie Gaborne Dearing of Fairfax, Virginia
* Dr. Baby Bleza-Guinto, MD of Valley Spring, New York.
* Ms. Carmencita Pintoy Kenney of Baltimore, Maryland
* Dr. Jose Bejar Cruz, PhD of Upper Arlington, Ohio.
* Ms. Tessie Calderon Alarcon of Leesburg, Virginia
* Mr. Perry Diaz of Elk Grove (Sacramento), California
* Ms. Venus Tomaneng of Virginia Beach, Virginia
* Mr. Antonio H. David of Washington, DC
* Dr. Vilma P. Helms, PhD of Dayton, Ohio
* Dr .Vicente O. Enciso, Jr., MD of Phoenix, Arizona
* Ms. Crispina Diaz-Unabia, RN of Downers Grove, Illinois
* Mr. Larry B. Hidalgo of San Jose ,California
* Dr. Vicenta P.G. Maquez, MD of Smyrna, Delaware
* Dr. Joseph M. Arzadon of Falls Church* Dr. Ofelia V. Dirige, PhD of San Diego, California
Congratulations to the 2004 awardees! I hope that they would continue to serve as role models in our community and contribute to the well-being and development of the Filipino-American community.