Wednesday, December 1, 2010


What is Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero, to young Filipino-Americans who grew up here, surrounded by American heroes and the values they extol?

For Jaena Marie Chu, 14, and Hanna Michelle Montoro, 17, he was a man who fought against injustice, raising his people through peaceful protest much like American civil rights heroes Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King.

“They were extraordinary people who did small things, like riding in a bus, which had a big impact on the people around them,” Montoro said of her essay on Rizal and Parks.

Chu and Montoro were part of 23 young Fil-Ams chosen for the 2010 Dr. Jose Rizal Awards.

The Awards is now on its 18th year.

Launched on June 19, 1993 – Rizal’s birthday – it became part of the annual Philippine Festival timed with the celebration of Philippine Independence. It was slowly pushed back to the Fall fit into the Fil-Am community’s busy calendar events.

“You have Rizal’s blood in your veins,” Roberto “Bobby” Tamayo, chairman of the Rizal Awards committee, reminded the awardees.

Joel Vazquez, 16, who goes to Bowie High School in Maryland, said he admires Rizal for the way he fought for equality for Filipinos when they were oppressed.

“I hope that I too will find the courage when that time comes,” he declared.

This year was an impressive crop.

Kelvin Moncera, 18, couldn’t attend the awarding rites (his father Jensen stood in for him) because he was busy tutoring other students at the University of Maryland-College Park, where he is biochemistry freshman. He graduated as class valedictorian at Oxon Hill Science & Technology High School. Kelvin is completing his investigation of the invasive properties of Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells (MDCK) at the John Hopkins University. He will be UMD’s exchange medical scholar to the University of Kingston in Britain next year

4th grader Jacob Filon of Claremont Immersion School in Arlington, VA won this year’s National Geographic Bee in his school and helped raise over $2,000 for Habitat for Humanity and the Lego Building Block Blitz.

7th grader Bernadette Ferrer of Lake Braddock Middle School in Burke, VA is part of the National Junior Honor Society and volunteers as a piano and violin musician in nursing homes.

The roster of awardees are Katherine & Kayla Argente, daughters of Liezl & Leon Argente of Beltsville, MD; Nariella Fernandez, daughter of Noel & Monica Fernandez of McLean, VA; Eliza Buan, daughter of Paul & Angelina Buan of Bowie, MD; Jacob Filon, son of Peter & Suzanne Solis Filon of Arlington, VA; Mavis Joy & Marc Daniel Manaloto, children of Noli & Manolisa Cornel Manaloto of Fairfax, VA;

Jenelle Virginia & Jaena Marie Chu, daughters of James & Gene Chu of Laurel, MD; Natalia Fernandez, daughter of Noel & Monica Fernandez of Beltsville, MD; Joseph McHenry Cajayon Chavez, son of JM & Tita Chavez of Annandale, VA; Bernadette Ferrer, daughter of Sifrino & Marian Ferrer of Burke, VA; Alfred-Enberg & Krizia Ivana Tan Udquim, children of Jose & Lizette Udquim of Lorton, VA;

Mark & Michael Ramada, sons of Drs. Antonio Ramada & Melinda Sebastian of Annandale, VA; Joel James Vazquez, son of Larry & Cynthia Vazquez of Bowie, MD; Tatiana Lozano, daughter of Butch & Ma. Theresa Lozano of Leesburg, VA; Hanna Michelle Montoro, daughter of Emmanuel & Asuncion Montoro of Woodbridge, VA; Kelvin Jens Moncera, son of Jensen & Gloria Moncera of Fort Washington, MD; Ruth Joy Relador, daughter of Ronaldo & Grace Mary Relador; and Amanda Andrei, daughter of Codin & the late Mercedes Tira Andrei of Leesburg, VA.

Tamayo expressed the hope that the 250 young Fil-Ams who’ve received the award would “continue the legacy of celebrating young talent, and that when your time comes in the future, that you will be here, standing like me, to confer honors upon the young.”

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